Issue #4 – Supernatural Creatures – Abstracts

Halszka Leleń

University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn

The Ambiguous Identity of a Dog as a Mongrelized Storyteller in John Berger’s King (1999)

The dog named King, the central character and narrator of John Berger’s “King” published in 1999, is the offshoot of many apparently incongruent genre conventions as well as the offspring of the ambivalent prejudice and praise of the species encoded in the English idioms. This presentation aims to overview the contributing elements which gave rise to the Bergerian shift in character-narrator shaping and to discuss the function of such perspective for the novelistic format adopted. The discussion points out the central role of the ambiguity of King as a dog, demonstrating the post-fantastic nature of his characterisation rooted in the conventions of magic realism. The patterns used to shape King, the dog, as one of the community and at the same time the Other are discussed. He is a befriended dog who becomes almost a family member for the beggars and, at the same time, he is the other, different species. He is both one of the homeless and at the same time the independent one, the stranger who sees more because of the distance inscribed into his nature of a rambling dog. Such is also the function of the fantastic in his shaping, as it is sometimes not quite clear that he is just a talking dog, derived from the tradition of animal fable. He might as well be taken as a mentally challenged human being who lost his identity. The merging of perspectives on all levels of the novel contributes to the dialogic quality of the narration in the Bakhtinian sense, to which the central ambiguities inscribed in the shaping of the quasi-fantastic dog add the quality of uncertainty and polyvalence.

key words: John Berger, point of view, dog as narrator, genre conventions, English dog idioms, post-fantastic characterisation, magic realism, ambiguity of character

James Moir

Abertay University, Scotland, U.K.

Of Monsters, Myths and Marketing: The Case of the Loch Ness Monster

This paper examines the status of the Loch Ness Monster within a diverse body of literature relating to Scotland. Within cryptozoology this creature is considered as a source of investigation, something to be taken seriously as a scientific or quasi-scientific object to be studied and known, particularly in light of its elusive nature. In terms of mythology the creature is bound up with Scottish cultural identifications through references to a rugged wilderness landscape and to iconic, if stereotypical, images of tartanry, bygone castles, and folklore. Both sets of ideas have been used with great effect to generate a diversity of literature: from books and scientific papers that chronicle the sightings and “hunt” for the creature as well the possible case for it being a line of long-surviving plesiosaurs, through to children’s literature that deals with the mythic element that is so often used to appeal to childhood imagination, and on to a plethora of tourist marketing booklets and brochures.

 

key words: Loch Ness, monster, Scotland, myth, marketing

Sviatoslav Piven

National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”

Threats or Victims: The Ambiguous Nature of Supernatural Creatures in Andrzej Sapkowski’s and George R. R. Martin’s Fantasy

Many postcolonial readings of fantasy fiction focus on exploring complicated relationships between different fantastic races that inhabit a certain secondary world. However, such studies often overlook interactions of these races with the supernatural animals and beasts that live alongside them. Fantasy narratives like Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher Saga and George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire depict fantastic settings where the relationship between the inhabitants of the world and the supernatural creatures is just as important as the interracial relations because it is based on similar principles of interaction between the Familiar and the Other and can be used to characterize them. Therefore, this article will address the following issues: how the supernatural creatures are perceived in their respective secondary worlds; what attitude prevails in this perception; and why it prevails above other reactions.

 

key words: supernatural creatures, the Other, fantasy, Martin, Sapkowski

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