The husband and I are reading Pat Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind together. The bulk of the book is the protagonist Kvothe recounting his youth and essentially fleshing out the man behind the Legend, relaying the sources of many a story about him. Still Kvothe, a figure of Legendary/mythic proportion (of which we have yet to fully realize), exists within a realm of already conceived mythical figures that would pre-date him. The Name of the Wind recounts songs and stories of varying folk lore, some specific to regions or a people, and some shared by everyone (the Chandrian, Lenre and Lyra, etc).
Sean and I got to talking about the myths, fairy tales, and folk lore observed by fictional characters within a novel. Some feel more borrowed and cobbled together than others, but regardless, they can be as wonderfully entertaining and as real as a tale that comes from some other country only heard about, but never seen. A folk tale can blend quite nicely into fiction unless it is very presently culturally observed, like the man who gathers bad children in a bag near Christmas and carts them off into the woods to be brutally murdered; I was afraid of him up until we moved to a different country. Still I worry a bit that he will be waiting for me when e’er I return.
I have read little in the Fantasy genre (thus far), nor do Sean and I tend to read the same books, but I think it natural anyway that the conversation would move from Rothfuss to Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. There are many charming and terrifying tales told in the realm Tolkien created and historicized. The song of the Ent wives is a particular favorite of mine, or of the maid Nimrodel.
After Tolkien, Sean reminded me of the story he’d read in a Gene Wolfe novel that he liked so much. We since have gotten the 2nd half of The Book of the New Song: Sword & Citadel so as to read it again, and to collect it. I found the chapter/story, “XIII: Foila’s Story—The Armiger’s Daughter,” on-line last night, here. We also learned it shows up in at least one of Wolfe’s short story collections.
A collection… There are collections of fairy tales and folk lore and myths from around the world. Is there an anthology of lore/tales collected from “fictional” places?
What tale would you like to see in such a collection? I like Jesse Ball’s tale in The Way Through Doors about the man who meets the devil on the road home to his wife and makes an arrogant and unwise deal. Or of the queen (?) who loved a count who did not return her affection so she hunted down the ugliest woman in the known world and made him marry her in their kingdom of ice. Course, the protagonist is making up stories, it is not a part of some fantastical place other than his own imagination. It isn’t Middle Earth, or Narnia, or where ever it is that Kvothe lives, or within the Wheel of Time, or A Song of Fire and Ice, or the Dark Tower …
What tale would you like to see in such a collection? Do you have a favorite fairy tale, folk tale, or myth conceived in some cultural setting in a fictional realm?* Would you limit it to Fantasy/Sci Fi, or could we include others, like Psychological fiction for example?
*Going to have to work on that wording of that question; fictional is a tricky word. How would you more eloquently word it? What would you call such a collection of tales (if it doesn’t already have a known name)?