i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Garden of Love

March 21, 2005

When reading Katherine Mansfield's The Garden Party, I did take note of all the references to the garden and the different types of plants - the bare dirt where the daisies had been, the 100's of blooming roses, the karakas-trees that would be hidden by the marquee. I didn't necessarily make the Adam / Eve connection but I don't find it to be such a far-fetched metaphor.

The garden described in the story reminds of a wonderful place that lives on in my dreams and memories: Mill Creek Park in Youngstown, Ohio. Maybe one day I'll write a story set in Mill Creek Park based on the Adam and Eve story?

Anyway, the thing about the mythology is cool but I wonder: will I ever make those connections? I'd have to seriously bone up on some mythology of yore in order to pick up references to it. I might be able to catch a reference to the god of war or the goddess of love and I wouldn't miss a reference to those spinners of fate the Moirai... but anything else? Whoosh! Right over my head.

Kids don't read mythology these days, I'm afraid. In fact, kids don't read much of anything. This is, of course, a very sad thing. It is also a fascinating thing because I wonder what we will use as cultural reference points 50 years from now. An interesting question, eh?

Moira at 08:18 AM :: Comments (3) :: ::

It's true that kids don't read mythology these days, but Buffy and Xena and Batman, and The Matrix have remixed elements from those old stories into new contexts, just as the ancient poets used to weave a slightly different version of the old stories for the occasion. So if you wanted to hint to a reader that you were using mythological content, you might start out with references to a familiar genre -- such as a fairy tale or a Western -- and then, for the reader who is paying attention, add further details that clarify that your core reference goes back even further than that.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at March 21, 2005 10:28 AM

Ah, but if you weren't up on the mythology content, how would you ever know where the story originally started? These days, someone might catch a reference to Buffy but not to Peresphone (or whoever).

Posted by: moira at March 21, 2005 01:56 PM

As an author, though, you can use a more familiar cultural reference to get the attention of your readers, and then more obscure references for the very careful readers. The casual reader might not "get" the reference, but the story would still have the emotional impact that it gains from using the inherently dramatic relationships and events described in classical lit. The metaphors work on some level even when they aren't consciously recognized by the reader.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at March 21, 2005 02:52 PM
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