Affiliation with UVic English: Faculty; Emeritus
Special Book: Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Describe why this book has special significance for you?
The first edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales I was given is a wartime production: the print is minute, the 302 pages not white but browned dingy. The cloth cover, in frog’s-breath green and an art nouveau design, and the twelve tipped-in black and white pictures on shiny paper by Arthur Rackham do not redeem its unattractiveness.
But at the age of five, I was enchanted when I heard and then read it: taken aback but pondering rather than alienated by the violence, intrigued by the strange morality, the sibling rivalry, the part played by not-so-dumb animals, the vivid presence of homely inanimate objects, innocence and wickedness closely allied, the huge tasks on the road ahead. The stories were charged with emotional power.
I identified absolutely with The Three Children of Fortune:
Once upon a time a father sent for his three sons, and gave to the eldest a cock, to the second a scythe and to the third a cat. “I am now old, “ said he, “my end is approaching and I would fain provide for you before I die. Money I have none, and what I now give you seems but of little worth; yet it rests with yourselves alone to turn my gifts to good account. Only seek out for a land where what you have is as yet unknown, and your fortune is made.”