Setting question: President Odin:

Total posts: [52]
26 MorwenEdhelwen21st Apr 2013 06:29:55 PM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
@montmorency: Odin's presence in the saga and Eddas seems to symbolise fate itself ensuring that Sigurd kills Fafnir.

The dragon (in the case of Fafnir) symbolises greed, especially greed for wealth. It's no accident that he transforms from a dwarf to a dragon after killing Hreidmar, his father, for the treasure.

Dwarves are traditionally underground-dwelling spirits associated with wealth, mines and craftsmanship.

edited 21st Apr '13 6:31:58 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
27 montmorencey21st Apr 2013 06:46:17 PM from the quaint town of Grimm, Bismarck and Gauss
Wait, wait, wait, what? The Dragon used to be a dwarf, but then he killed his father for a treasure and transformed into a dragon?

edited 21st Apr '13 6:46:35 PM by montmorencey

Complicated - because simple is simply too simple.
28 MorwenEdhelwen21st Apr 2013 07:05:19 PM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
@Montmorency: Yep.
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
29 montmorencey21st Apr 2013 07:15:18 PM from the quaint town of Grimm, Bismarck and Gauss
Okay, so basically your theme for this character is, laconically phrased: Greed corrupts. Patricide is bad and makes you a monster.

The detail of Fafnir being a dragon, specifically, is actually completely unimportant. The 'dragon' in the original story is an expression of Fafnir's corruption.

To break away from the original in a retelling, this is the point at which you ought to else could you express Fafnir's corruption?

If it's cyberpunk, maybe he's become a cyborg. In Urban Fantasy, yes, he might have turned into a literal dragon. He might have gained some sort of special magical power that corrupts him further and further, turning him in some other sort of monster. Maybe he just goes by the title 'The Dragon of X' because people are just that terrified of him.

edited 21st Apr '13 7:15:43 PM by montmorencey

Complicated - because simple is simply too simple.
30 MorwenEdhelwen21st Apr 2013 07:26:51 PM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
[up]It's both cyberpunk and urban fantasy. Dungeon Punk, in other words. So maybe he turns into a biological-mechanical dragon, like Tolkien's dragons who were sentient warfare machines created by Morgoth originally.
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
31 montmorencey21st Apr 2013 08:07:39 PM from the quaint town of Grimm, Bismarck and Gauss
Okay, disclaimer. I'm one of those people who have to pick everything apart at the seams and examine each thread under a microscope and I tend to be quite blunt, to the point of Brutal Honesty. It is absolutely not my intention to be condescending or rude or...anything. I'm trying to help. But if I get too harsh and cross too far into Drill Sergeant Nasty territory, or if you're just fed up with me, just give the word and I'll shut up.

Having said that. You have to break out of that tendency of measuring everything by what Tolkien did. He's a great writer, but he's a) not the only one, b) not the God of Literature and c) if I wanted to read what Tolkien did, I'd just read Tolkien, plain and simple.

Of course a bio-mechanical dragon is a spin on the original idea, but it lacks a bit in inertia, if you ask me.

You asked once what the difference between a rip off and 'inspired by'/ a reimagining is.

A rip off takes the source material with all its elements, changes a couple of minor details such as setting and character apearances, maybe some minor plot points, but leaves the bulk of the story intact.

A reimagining, or a story that is inspired by another story, takes the original, boils it down to the fundamental concepts contained within it and uses those concepts as the seeds from which to grow a new story. Or maybe it approaches the original from an entirely new angle.

Take the Arthurian Legend, for example. It's been retold, reimagined and adapted a hundred times. There's the series Merlin which took the characters from the original legend, but introduced an entirely new dynamic to the Arthur/Merlin relationship by making them the same age rather than having Merlin be an old wizard in a pointy hat and Arthur's mentor. Queen Guinevere was a maid and a seamstress that Arthur falls in love with, rather than a political match.

Marion Zimmer-Bradley retold the Arthurian Legend from the point of view of Morgaine, Arthur's half sister and created a very different story from Mommoth's popular epic.

There are other adaptations, but those examples should suffice.

You have to think away from the source material, not toward it. Let's say that I had read the tale of Kullervo. Why would I want to read your story? What is so different about it that it should peak my interest?
Complicated - because simple is simply too simple.
32 MorwenEdhelwen21st Apr 2013 08:14:08 PM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
[up] He actually frees the evil mistress from the bears and wolves that he set on her. She actually has a reason to hate him (she lost a child, and he reminds her of the lost child).

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
33 montmorencey21st Apr 2013 08:23:36 PM from the quaint town of Grimm, Bismarck and Gauss
That's exactly the sort of 'minor change to the plot' that I was talking about earlier, with an alternate ending attached to it. It's not enough to induce me to sit through an entire novel, because until we get to that point, I'll be bored by reading what I've already read before. Converesely, if it comes up early in the story, I might be intrigued, but unless this puts a drastic spin on the story, I'll put the book down at a later point and will be annoyed with you for wasting my time with a false promise.
Complicated - because simple is simply too simple.
34 Jabrosky21st Apr 2013 08:26:55 PM from San Diego, CA
I have to second montmorencey's sentiment that re-imaginings should diverge from their source material in substantial ways. In fact I can't imagine why any writer would want to retell an existing story if they didn't want to put their own distinct spin on it. If you really wanted to be so faithful to the original source material, you would get into the printing rather than writing industry.
35 MorwenEdhelwen21st Apr 2013 08:29:58 PM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
[up] [up] It does come up fairly early. The incident with the bread and the knife actually happens in one of the earlier poems.

so looking at Kullervo again:

A young boy is born into slavery after a pregnant slave woman is spared during a fight between two brothers. The boy's incredibly strong, with dangerous magical abilities, so his mother's master/his uncle attempts to kill him. The attempts fail and eventually the boy is sold to another household, where he is mistreated by the mistress. Eventually he snaps after his last token of his original family is ruined and kills the mistress. His life then gets progressively worse.

edited 21st Apr '13 8:44:27 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
36 montmorencey21st Apr 2013 08:39:01 PM from the quaint town of Grimm, Bismarck and Gauss
Yes, but what about later? How does this substantially change the story? Is it maybe a psychological study? That can be very interesting. I'm thinking of Cassandra by Christa Wolf, which explores Cassandra's psyche and motivations in depth and is quite distinct from the corresponding mythological passages. But again, Wolf made several substantial changes to the original myth to get there.

Maybe you should read some popular reimaginings and compare them to their source material in order to see how other people dealt with the problem. Make a list of how they changed the source material in order to weave their own, unique story.

If you're not up for reading a hundred novels, I'd suggest some carefully selected AU fanfics in a fandom of your choice. Some of them are simply brilliant and would make for awesome novels if the author changed the names of the characters to avoid copyright issues.

(In fact, a reimagining is pretty much AU fanfiction...)

edited 21st Apr '13 8:39:43 PM by montmorencey

Complicated - because simple is simply too simple.
37 MorwenEdhelwen21st Apr 2013 08:43:45 PM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
[up] Yes, it's a psychological study in first person. Also, touches on colonialism and things like that (ie the Sampo)

That's the Cassandra where she was raped, right?

edited 21st Apr '13 8:46:15 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
38 montmorencey21st Apr 2013 08:47:14 PM from the quaint town of Grimm, Bismarck and Gauss
All right, so that can work. But then you absolutely have to treat the source material as a metaphor to a substantial degree.

Re Cassandra: Among other things. It's been seven years since I've read that book, I'm foggy on the details. I just remember that it was quite well done, if a trifle postmodernist, which isn't a style that usually agrees much with me.

edited 21st Apr '13 8:49:30 PM by montmorencey

Complicated - because simple is simply too simple.
39 MorwenEdhelwen21st Apr 2013 08:50:12 PM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
I remember reading a version of the Kullervo story where the stone in the bread was meant to symbolise Kullervo's mistrustful nature.

Here it is

Isn't "Wicked" also a psychological study?

edited 21st Apr '13 8:55:28 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
40 montmorencey21st Apr 2013 08:54:13 PM from the quaint town of Grimm, Bismarck and Gauss
Mh, since I haven't actually read the epic, I have no idea what you're talking about [lol]

But it's probably a valid interpretation. In that case, you might for example consider expressing Kullervo's mistrustful nature in a different way and opt to either leave the stone-in-the-bread-part out entirely, or give it a brief shout out, or tell it in a drastically different way.

Edit: Yeah, that part definitely expresses his mistrustful nature. But it also alludes to the loneliness such mistrust will bring for Kullervo. What do you plan to do with the woman of stone?

edited 21st Apr '13 8:57:33 PM by montmorencey

Complicated - because simple is simply too simple.
41 MorwenEdhelwen21st Apr 2013 08:57:36 PM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
Then the shepherd, Kullerwoinen,

''Drew his knife to cut his oat-loaf,

Cut the hard and arid biscuit; Cuts against a stone imprisoned, Well imbedded in the centre,'' Breaks his ancient knife in pieces;

When the shepherd youth, Kullervo,

Saw his magic knife had broken,

Weeping sore, he spake as follows:

"This, the blade that I bold sacred,

This the one thing that I honor,

Relic of my mother's people!

On the stone within this oat-loaf,

On this cheat-cake of the hostess,

I my precious knife have broken.

How shall I repay this insult,

How avenge this woman's malice,

What the wages for deception?"

AFAIK the stone in the bread is just that in the original.

edited 21st Apr '13 9:00:26 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
42 montmorencey21st Apr 2013 08:59:14 PM from the quaint town of Grimm, Bismarck and Gauss
Oh, that's a different passage from the one I just read.

I think we have to stop cross editing like this. How about we wait three minutes after each post to make sure that the post stays that way?

So, I haven't seen Wicked, but from what I read about it, it's a psychological study and a very well done deconstruction, yes.

The passage you quoted doesn't seem to so much signify Kullervo's mistrust as give him a reason to be mistrustful and vengeful.

I was referring to this:

Kullervo doesn’t understand why she would give him this task, fit for a child, not for a man. Neither does he understand when she later visits him, bringing him a freshly baked loaf of bread. A token of affection, or just a new mockery? – This loaf is the way you think it is. It’s like you, or like me, the mistress says, encouragingly. But Kullervo does not dare to break the bread. – If it’s like me, there’s a stone inside. – Tomorrow, I’ll bring you another loaf, the mistress says. This one I made in my likeness. And she returns the following day, carrying with her another loaf. Kullervo refuses to try either one, and she knows her good intentions were to no avail. A loaf with a stone inside is what you’re looking for in this world. One like yourself, she comments, sadly.

You already have a woman here, one made of stone. You made her yourself, for yourself. You piled her up, made a stone face, stone eyes, stone fingers, arms of birchwood. [...] It makes me sad to see that you’ve made yourself a woman out of rocks and wood, grasses and tree bark, to lie beside you. Poor you. There’s no room beside her for another woman, a live and breathing one. You’re hard. You’re afraid of softness, afraid of love. Hate is what you love, the mistress says.

edited 21st Apr '13 9:02:39 PM by montmorencey

Complicated - because simple is simply too simple.
43 MorwenEdhelwen21st Apr 2013 09:05:17 PM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
That's a good idea about the cross editing. The woman of stone and symbolism of the stone being associated with him rather than the mistress was probably invented by the writer of that reimagining. The passage I quoted is from the earliest full English translation of the Kalevala.

In the case of the Kalevala passage I think the stone in the bread represents the mistress' deceitful nature. She appears nice and soft like the bread but inside there's just a stone. Originally, she's the daughter of a powerful sorceress, who's described as a very gentle, kind-hearted person, but once the Kullervo poems happen, she's something else.

edited 21st Apr '13 9:11:33 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
44 montmorencey21st Apr 2013 09:10:17 PM from the quaint town of Grimm, Bismarck and Gauss
But those are two completely different takes on the matter.

In the original, Kullervo experiences and actual slight and this gives him reason to be mistrustful and vengeful. And [up] about the mistress.

In this retelling, the mistress seems to have honestly good intentions, but Kullervo's inherent mistrust prevents him from accepting the loaf and results in him rejecting her.

And this exactly the sort of important change I mean. These are two very different Kullervos and Mistresses.

edited 21st Apr '13 9:11:15 PM by montmorencey

Complicated - because simple is simply too simple.
45 Wheezy21st Apr 2013 09:15:37 PM from Tampa, FL. Again.
(That Guy You Met Once)
Either that knife was as fragile as glass, or that guy cuts bread really damn hard.

Either way, have you read American Gods? It covers a lot of the same themes you mentioned in the first post, and does a pretty good job of explaining why Odin came to America, and why he would be so hungry for power despite being so far away from his homelands.

Also, hate to say it, but if he heads a Mega Corp., that might be just as much power as if he was the actual president. He might not even need the latter title.

edited 21st Apr '13 9:18:18 PM by Wheezy

46 MorwenEdhelwen21st Apr 2013 09:28:14 PM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
[up][up]So let's discuss both ideas then: Fafnir's Bane (Sigurd Fafnirsbane) and The Pearl Of Combat (Kullervo). Even more obvious than taking superficial inspiration from an original source is taking inspiration from someone else's retelling (that retelling I quoted is one of several that add an erotic element to the mistress/Kullervo relationship) and while that's definitely a radical idea, I just don't see it that way. I see it more as an abusive parent-child relationship where both of them obviously have issues.

And the Sigurd story I see as one about fate, heroism, honour, greed and wealth.

@wheezy: No, but I have heard of it.

edited 21st Apr '13 9:33:03 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
47 MorwenEdhelwen22nd Apr 2013 02:00:24 AM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
Another note; what about all the Cinderella retellings out there with the evil stepparent and step siblings, a ball and magical carriage and some variation of a fairy godmother? If you look closely at Kullervo, it's basically a male Cinderella story, complete with scraps for food and being forced to wear rags.
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
Do those Cinderella retellings have magical carriages and a Prince's ball in post-apocalyptic America? You can't change major aspects of the story but keep some of the more iconic aspects of the original story for the sake of being faithful even if those original aspects don't fit with the changes.
49 MorwenEdhelwen22nd Apr 2013 03:08:29 PM from Sydney, Australia
Aussie Tolkien freak
There's one retelling of Cinderella in a cyberpunk setting which has the ball and evil stepmother, but no carriage.

BTW, here's my favourite retelling of the Kullervo story: The Story of Honto Taltewenlen. I was actually aiming for something similar to that with The Pearl Of Combat.

edited 22nd Apr '13 4:11:28 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
The Cinderella question was rhetorical. You were suppose to consider the other thing I said.

Total posts: 52