Thursday, 16 June 2016

Narrative Points Of View

Hrolf Kraki's Saga is dark and devious. I need a break from it. However, A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine, that I want to reread, is on loan to a friend.

Poul Anderson's War Of The Gods (New York, 1999) begins and ends with "The Gods themselves..." (p. 9). For the purposes of this narrative, these gods are real. The intervening story recounts what happens among men because of a conflict between the gods.

Anderson's Hrolf Kraki's Saga (New York, 1973) begins but does not end with the telling of the tale in a Christian court centuries later. For the narrator and most of her audience, these gods are a heathen error to paraphrase a patronizing phrase used by the bishop who must be consulted as to whether it is fitting to tell the tale. Thus also, Snorri had to make clear that all of his story occurred inside inverted commas.

Anderson's "Star of the Sea" begins with a goddess and ends with a prayer to the Mother Of God. Here we understand that these beings are believed to exist. The intervening story recounts what happens among men to change their beliefs while retaining certain images.

Of the goddess:

"...she rose watch over her sea. Upon her brow shone the morning star."
-Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 467.

To Mary:

"Pure as yourself, your evenstar shines above the sunset...
"Ave Stella Maris!" (p. 640)

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I remembered the bishop's comment you alluded to from HROLF KRAKI'S SAGA. And I did not find it "patronizing." The bishop also said that even if the pagans were in error later generations could still learn from them.

I would also point out that it was CHRISTIANS who preserved most of what we have of Classical and non Classical literature, legends, myths, etc. This contrasts sharply, I would point out, with how ISLAM treats such things: with utter contempt and scorn and a horrifying desire to destroy and wipe them out. And from time to time we see Muslims doing PRECISELY that: such as the wanton destruction of the Buddha statues in Afghanistan or the ruins of Palmyra.

And let me say at once I know not all Muslims are such fanatics. But the teachings of Islam potentially allows for such things!