I realise this is waaay too early to start posting musings and opinions – this blog only has two subscribers so far after all – but nevertheless I read something yesterday that got me thinking. Followed by a long train journey today where I was too exhausted for reading, and I had plenty of time in which to think. So whether anyone is reading this or not – and if you are please comment if you have opinions – I decided to put pen to paper (metaphorically at least).
Now the thing that got me thinking was a passage in Jorge Luis Borges’ The Book of Imaginary Beings – an early ‘encyclopedia of fantastic beasts’ – or a modern version of a medieval bestiary – depending on your opinion (I go with the later). Unlike most similar encyclopedias I’ve read, Borges treats the creatures he deals with as firmly imaginary and openly discusses their symbolic origins, changing symbolism, and use in fiction. But I’m not writing a review of this book yet (I’m still only on ‘D’ and reading one entry a day), no, what got me musing was this passage regarding ‘The Western Dragon’:
Time has considerably tarnished the prestige of Dragons. We believe in lions as reality and as a symbol; we believe in the Minotaur as a symbol, though no longer a reality; the Dragon is perhaps the best known though also the least fortunate of fantastic animals. It strikes us as puerile, a creature of childhood, and its puerility contaminates the stories in which it figures. But we must not forget that this is a modern prejudice, perhaps inspired by the excess of Dragons found in fairy tales. Continue reading