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Fairy Tales

Bad Retail: A Romantic Fiction (excerpt)

[…] these quilted snatches are viewed as past moments – of clarity, beauty, civilization, and spiritual elation – that must somehow be retained and restitched in a sense, spliced onto the present, […] as if they were alive, as if they were types of intelligent, deathless energy, and this so as to allow the past, with a nourishing insistence, to feed the present.

(Oppenheimer 1998: 84, ‘Goethe and modernism’) Read more →

American Gothic

Chaos, Anachronism and Modernity in Eyvind Earle’s Sleeping Beauty 

The philosopher of anachronism, Jeremy Tambling, has argued that what is ‘postponed’ appears as anachronistic.  Drawing a metaphor from the world of modern travel, he writes that jet-lag (décalage horaire or ‘time-gap’ in French) ‘places one time (that of the body) inside another [time], literally postpones it’ (Tambling, 2010: 16).  The Beauty in Charles Perrault’s famous story for children, published in 1697 – the first of its kind to be called La Belle au Bois Dormant (‘The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood’), is herself an anachronism, a body ‘postponed’ – a figure from the ancient past recalled to life. And the Prince, who helps her to rise, is struck with embarrassment.  For, though she is fully dressed (and quite magnificently), she is dressed just like his great-grandmother – in the fashion of a century before – and wears a ‘point-band’ peeping over her collar (Perrault, 1992: 89).    Read more →

The Wizard of Oz at the Glasgow Britannia Panoptican

The creator of The Wizard of Oz, Lyman Frank Baum, was born in 1856 in Chittenango in upstate New York, the son of a wealthy business man and investor who had made his fortune in Pennsylvania oil. Throughout his life he would have a number of careers, including as a newspaper journalist and as a playwright and actor working in theatres that Baum’s father owned; he also managed a fancy goods store known as ‘Baum’s Bazar’ in South Dakota, and worked as a travelling salesman for a china and glass company. In his spare time, Baum made up fantastic stories to entertain his children and these were so good that his wife Maud encouraged him to write them down. He succeeded in getting a number of his books for children published the most successful of which, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, made its first appearance in print in 1900.

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(In)Edible Beauty

We do not begin with a siren singing (that comes later) but with a human passenger in want of his sea-legs.  In the opening scene of Walt Disney’s cartoon version of The Little Mermaid (1989) (amidst a range of nautical-themed pratfalls), the Prince’s comic old retainer balks over the side of a galleon, his face coloured a septic shade of green. Read more →

Of Mice and Brides

The mind which plunges into surrealism relives, with glowing excitement, the best part of its childhood…From childhood memories, and from a few others, there emanates a sentiment of being unintegrated, and then later of having gone astray, which I hold to be the most fertile that exists. (Breton, 2010: 39-40)

Andre Breton, ‘The Manifesto of Surrealism’, 1924 Read more →