Orlando Furioso: Canto 2, 31-45

10/23/2009 § Leave a comment

“This thief-whether he was a mortal being

or infernal fiend I cannot say-.”

Next up are many stanzas exalting Bradamante and stuff. But the gist of it is that she is celebrated throughout the countryside and sister to Rinaldo. She is held in as high esteem as her brother Rinaldo. She is loved by Ruggiero whom she has only met once. The crusades definitely seem like they were a bogus time for love.

So Bradamante wanders through the woods and leaves one weeping knight (which was Sacripante whom she bested earlier in the first Canto)  near a river only to discover another. She comes upon a white knight who laments and whines about how his love was stolen by a knight on a winged horse. Also he thinks that Bradamante is a man by her outfit.

Turns out that the knight was leading some cavalry to meet King Charles. He was also escorting a lady; a lady he loved. And lo! in the air he saw a knight in armour on a horse with wings circling high above.

The flying horse swoops and the knights scurry away like cockroaches when a light is turned on. The lady, startled, is snatched into the air. The valiant knight missed the whole thing and didn’t realize what had happened until her screams came calling from up above.

Then, this is the best, though he knows he can’t follow a winged horse from the ground he abandons his army and leaves it leaderless. So he just starts wandering aimlessly looking for his love who was snatched by Pegasus’ uncle. Then, after six days he finds a valley and a mountain beyond with a castle on top. The castle is made of steel “forged in the fires and chilled in the streams of hell.”

No stairs. No door. Just sheer castle walls. He lingered and cried and wept and just at that moment, as if he had been singing the Smiths Please, Please, Please, when his despair was at it’s greatest, two cavaliers escorted by a dwarf came into sight. The knights were none other than Gradasso and Ruggiero!

*sorry no 8bit pictures today. Next time.

The Griffin and the Minor Canon

10/17/2009 § 1 Comment

“I have had a contemptible opinion of you ever since I discovered

what cowards you are, but I had no idea you were so ungrateful…”

The Griffin

Lately I have been moderately obsessed (if one can be moderately obsessed) with American writers. Add this to my regular obsession of fairy-tales and I’ll practically flip my lid. So when I discovered Frank Stockton a while back one might have mistaken me for a human shaped Tupperware with an upside down lid. Needless to say I’ve been reading a lot of Frank Stockton…along with my regular regimen of literature which currently includes City of the Century and Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, which is, to my happy surprise, quite good. I’ll try to post about both when I finish.

I wish I could say that Stockton wrote tales with the beautiful, whimsical, heart-breaking quality in which Oscar Wilde fashioned his tales, because that’s what I always want with more recent fabulists, but I cannot say that. Few people can write like that. However, whatever Stockton lacks in ornate prose he more than adequately makes up with originality and sheer likability; and also some good old fashioned American sense.

The Minor Canon, one of the titular characters in the story is a well-liked, average, member of the clergy, just trying to do the best for his town. Just a regular guy really. Then along comes this Griffin who has never seen what he looks like but hears of a carving of himself in a village. He heads to the village and the townspeople freak out and hide. The Minor Canon is the only one to face him and after his initial fear, which never truly subsides (for it isn’t often one confronts a Griffin), he finds the creature somewhat exasperating as the Griffin decides to follow him around constantly, enjoying his kindness and common sense which much of the village lacks.

The story is fun. Lots of fun. The plot is fun. Basically, everything is fun. The sparse dialogue is always entertaining, being made up of little quips that the two characters often exchange.The ending is abrupt and kind of sad, and even though kind of out of left field, made me like the story more.

Of his stories it is my favorite, though all of them are worth a read. A Tale of Negative Gravity is also unique and parochial (as I’m sure the Nobel Lit board would agree with). What’s wrong with parochial? The Bee Man of Orn, is also a good and quick read. Both of these have illustrated editions by Maurice Sendak.

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