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"How and to what effect does Elementals rewrite traditional forms of fairytale, myth and Biblical tale?"

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Introduction

"How and to what effect does Elementals rewrite traditional forms of fairytale, myth and Biblical tale?" There are many ways in which A.S. Byatt's collection of short stories modify and seem to change the conventional fashion of fairytales, as well as myths, legends and religious or biblical tales. Every story has an element of old fashioned folklore but at the same time, telling it in a new and modernised way, and each self contained story creates its own atmosphere in relation to this. As fairytales are in fact dark and that of the Grimm's tales, these stories relate more then, as within the narrative there is some factor of surrounding destructive power but also beauty, which rewrites the conventional fairytale, for example Cold. However, the myth which connects back to the epic Greek tragedies or love stories also plays its part, for example A Lamia in the Cevennes. Finally, as for the Biblical tale, Jael holds its own on religious imagery. As Charles May commented the short story has '...remained close to its primal mythic source' (The Short Story: The Reality of Artifice, 1995), and indeed Byatt attempts to do this. ...read more.

Middle

But as Byatt herself put it '...the wholly imagined worlds seemed simply good, the kings and princes... but these real imaginings, so to speak, had a contaminated quality...', (Passions of the Mind, 1991) Byatt suggests here that the power of fantasy actually can have a feeling of corruption (similar maybe to Angela Carter), which is what could be the primary source for these authors to rewrite conventional forms. The appealing idea of locating a story overseas may then connect back to traditional forms but also helps convey a newer and more modern type of tale. Indeed, it seems that the idea of these rewritten forms is to produce new tales for a new age or generation, and within these then, must be the recent issues in contemporary society, or at least around the time the book was written. Rebellion against society seems present in some stories, in particular Baglady. For the centre of the story rotates around class and the importance of image, as well wealth and exploitation. This story uses some sort of magical realism to convey the message about contemporary problems with our civilisation. For example, the name of the company - the 'Doolittle Wind Company', is important as it alludes to money ('do little'), yet uses a completely seemingly imaginative name. ...read more.

Conclusion

It takes the tale and through colour again, creates the destruction of human spirit through the depressing "destruction of Sisera". This striking imagery brings about a tender mood and is reflective of the characters career in the TV advertising industry with her struggle with her assistant director. But, the difference here between old biblical tale and this narrative is that the character remembers her religious tales not because of their morals but because "...the scriptures were both dead and nasty". A covert and perhaps poignant point that the character makes (and made more personal by the first person narrative) about the biblical tale is "...it's a story about the breaking of all the primitive laws of hospitality, and kindness, laws we learn even from fairy stories". This story then itself takes the biblical tale and places it into the perspective of an individual in our age and culture (and middle class), it could be said to be Byatts view of the tale in present time conveyed through this character. Elementals rewrites then, in numerous different ways, original forms of fairytales and so on, producing an unconventional new style of narrative. Yet, however covert or overt the tale of its roots in traditional form may be, the stories still maintain the effect of a mythical and magical impression of fantasy intertwined with elements of reality. ...read more.

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