Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cauldron of Story

I was reading the book From Homer to Harry Potter recently, and was reminded of Tolkien's notion of the "cauldron of story." My memory is that this comes from his essay "On Fairy Stories," but I'll confirm that and make the proper annotation later. This cauldron is where every writer goes (in his mind) to get ideas for stories. It consists of all life experiences, all stories and tales that have ever been read or written. So when the writer dips in the ladle, even his own original stories are infused with the essence of tales that have gone before. So we have Beowulf peeking out from the pages of The Lord of the Rings, and medieval heroism creeping about in Order of the Phoenix. It's why, when a Tolkien fan sees a large crane moving uprooted trees across the quad, the immediate notion is that it looks like the march of the Ents across Isengard.

Anyway, I find myself drawn to this idea - it's comforting, in a way, to know that even the most original and unique stories are part of something deeper and larger. And if I ever write a story or tell a tale, that too will be added to the cauldron - a tiny bit of my own flavor to season some other author's imaginings someday.

1 comment:

Mrs. Beaulieu said...

I think you might have found a third reader.

I found you searching for socratic discussion questions for my 35 lit/writing homeschool students. I'm trying to teach them to recognize elements of the Cauldron of Story. (love From H to HP)

But the Heffalumps really caught my eye. My high schooler still loves to read Milne. Then you love HPotter also (we're going through the series for the 3rd time here, and the house is getting dirtier by the hour).

I also LOVE the cabinets, you have fabulous taste; I do admit they look just like mine :)

Keep blogging!

-Lisa in OH
mrsbeaulieu.blogspot.com