Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Reading Notes: Russian Folktales, Part A

The Treasure

This goat mask is supremely creepy and I imagine the pope looked somewhat like this.
(Jullbock from wikimedia commons)

  • There is a certain lack of information given in the beginning. The story just starts off strong and keeps going with almost no context
  • It seems a bit odd that the old man could not get anyone to lend him money, not even the pope. It seems like the pope should be generous? I wonder if this is a little theme in Russian fairytales
  • I feel bad for the old man. All of the people in his town seem terrible and greedy
  • What kind of town does this man live in where he feels like he has to dig his own wife's grave?
  • Okay the money seems like the least of this man's problems to be honest
  • I love that the second the pope gets the money he decides to be a good pope
  • The story is written with small spurts of dialogue, which I enjoy. It feels like a very basic storytelling technique but it works well. I think I could emulate this. 
  • Somehow the story has escalated such that there is now a man dressed in a goat skin. What is actually happening?
  • Maybe it's just me, but it feels sacrilegious for the literal pope to put on a devil costume and to scare an old man who just buried his wife. Also I am supremely grossed out. 
  • I like the idea of adding a slightly gross element to a story, though. I have already talked about trying to write something scary, but I have never thought about writing a bit of gore. I think I could come up with something as weird as this story!
  • It is poetic justice that the goat skin fused with the greedy pope. I can not say that I enjoy the ending, but it is somewhat satisfying.
Overall, this story was weird, but it gave me a good sense of the Russian storytelling technique. It reminded me of the Brothers Grimm storytelling style with the dark twists at the end and the overall dark themes. I enjoy this type of story, but it still makes me feel odd inside. 

Russian Fairy Tales by W. R. S. Ralston (1887)

Monday, November 30, 2020

Famous Last Words: Almost There!

This is how I feel at this point in the semester. I feel like the last piece of the puzzle is ready to be put into place but I just have to do it!
(Image from Pikrepo)

Your reading for this week: 
The reading went well for me this week! I actually enjoyed reading from the Canterbury Tales unit. I thought reading The Promise of Dorigen was thoroughly enjoyable and was the story that I based my re-telling on for the week. The second story I wrote about was The Prioress's Tale: Little Hugh and was a blood libel. I was sort of shocked while reading this anti-Semitic tale, but it was good to see that side of history. I liked the way both stories were laid out and I thought I would try to emulate some aspects in future writing. 

Your best writing for this week: I thought my best writing for the week was in my telling of The Promise of Dorigen when I wrote The Diary of Arviragus, which was my twist on the tale. I definitely experimented this week with telling the story from a different character's point of view, which is something I have not done. I also twisted the story to be in a different format, the diary, which was also something new. I really enjoyed writing this way and I think keeping in the groove of just sitting down and writing it was helpful.

Other people's writing: I actually read a lot of people's retelling of the story of Gellert, the dog who saved the baby from the intruder, but his master thought he killed the baby so he killed Gellert. I thought Tink did a wonderful job with her retelling. She also switched the character point of view for this story and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Here is her story!

Your other classes: My other classes are going pretty well. I am nearing the end in all my classes and at this point I am just trying to push through to the end of the semester. I am completely over this semester and this year in general, so I am just ready to be done. I want a break so badly but I cannot take one until I am done with all my work. I just need to get it all done at this point. 

Outside of school: While I did not attend any events on campus, I did go home for Thanksgiving to see my family. We had to do a socially distanced Thanksgiving dinner, which was really weird. My sister and I were the "servers" and we were masked and gloved while distributing food. It was odd but we got it done. I am so ready for the pandemic to be over!

Next week: This next week I am hoping I have time to sit down and finish a lot of work for this class and my other classes. I want to just be done with everything so I may try to have a marathon work session this week! 

Week 13 Review

As I scrolled through the announcement feed I thought this graphic perfectly summed up what I was feeling at the end of the semester. All I want is to take a break, but I simply cannot do that until I get all my work done. It also made me laugh!

I also thought this video would bring more people the joy it brought me when I first saw it. With the year we are having I think it is important to find joy in the little things in life, such as watching a happy man do a dance in the snow. Dancing is always therapeutic for me and I do not think I am alone in that. Enjoy this beautiful little video!

Growth Mindset: Conversation with Bella

Fixed vs Growth mindset

For this growth mindset conversation I prepared a few talking points before I chatted with my roommate, Bella. I tried to give her an overview of the idea of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset and how that effects your life. She was very receptive to the conversation and genuinely seemed like she wanted to know more, so that was encouraging. Though she had never heard of the term "growth mindset" before, she had definitely heard of some concepts related to the topic. I wanted to make sure I hit the points about taking criticism and using it to improve your activity/performance/whatever you're doing because she will be the first to admit that she has trouble taking criticism sometimes. To my surprise she was very open to having a candid discussion about how she could improve in this area. I had some more points prepared on the way we see "failure" in our lives as well. I told her about the ways we can take our failures and learn from them instead of being down on ourselves. I think she really enjoyed talking about this and the conversation was productive!

Friday, November 20, 2020

Week 13 Story: The Diary of Arviragus

Dorigen and Arviragus when they were reunited at last.

May 12, 1523
Dear Diary,

Oh how in love I am! My beautiful love, Dorigen, has just accepted my hand in marriage! We are betrothed and I am absolutely ecstatic. I cannot express how ardently I love this woman. She is so stunning. I have never seen such a face and dare I say I will never see such beauty as she. I have vowed to be fair and true to her for all my days, even when I must depart from her gracious presence. I have never been this happy in all my days!


May 30, 1524
Dear Diary, 

I am feeling very ill on this day, my friend. You see, I have just broken the news to Dorigen that I must depart across the sea. How blissful this past year has been! I am fully distraught at the thought of leaving my dear Dorigen, but I am called by my duty as a knight of the kingdom to seek glory and honor in arms! I have to go, but I have vowed to return just as soon as my tasks are accomplished. I only pray now that Dorigen will not weep for me, but that her days will be filled with friendship and happiness as she awaits my return. The day when we are reunited will be glorious!


July 9, 1524
Dear Diary,

I have made it across the waters! I now seek to accomplish what I have set out to do as quickly as possible so that I can return to my love once more. I have a tournament in just two month's time, and I must spend every waking minute until then training for it. I must win!


September 31, 1524
Dear Diary,

I am pleased to inform you that I have won! The kingdom has claimed a righteous victory on this day for me and my comrades have taken the top prized in the tournament. I was the jousting champion, not to brag, and I am very proud of my accomplishments. Oh, how I cannot wait to be reunited with Dorigen and inform her of the news! She will be so proud of me. She is always so supportive. I love her dearly. In one week's time I will set sail back across the seas so that I may arrive at home before the year's end!


November 13, 1524
Dear Diary,

I made it safely across the waters without mishap, and I was reunited with my love! As we embraced, she disclosed to me something truly horrific, and something I had never in my wildest dreams imagined she would ever say. You see, while in my absence, this pitiful squire man apparently confessed his love for Dorigen. She told him that she was already madly in love with me, but he would not leave her alone. In an effort to be rid of his nuisances, she told him that when the rocks at the bottom of the cliff from which I sailed away were covered up, which would never happen for they are very visible even at high tide, she would be with him. Her, knowing this would never happen, did not give this man another thought until one day he came back to her and told her to look over the cliff. The rocks were gone, and she had made him a promise. I do not know what to do, diary. She promised him, but she is my one true love! How can I lose her now when she was so close to me only moments ago? This is truly the worst day of my life. 


November 14, 1524
Dear Diary, 

After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that she must be with the squire. She has made a promise and I do not take those lightly. Though it pains me more than anything in the world has ever pained me, I must let her go to him. I pray now that by some miracle he does not make her follow through on her word, for I do not know if I can bear to spend another day without her by my side. 


November 15, 1524
Dear Diary,

It happened! I sent her off to him but she has returned to me! According to Dorigen, the squire knew he could not keep her away from me. She was too distraught and although she wanted to honor her promise, he knew she would be miserable for all her days. Oh, glorious day! I have sent a letter to the squire to thank him for his generosity, and I only hope that he can find a love of his own now. But for now and all of my days, I have Dorigen. I am perfectly and completely happy.


Author's Note:
Hello reader! This is the retelling of the Canterbury tale titled "The Promise of Dorigen." The original tale is written from from a third person point of view, but is mainly focused on Dorigen's story. I toyed around with the idea of doing a gender swap, but ended up wanting to write from Arviragus' point of view instead. The original tale does not really give the readers any indication of how Arvirgaus is feeling when all of the things go down between Dorigen and the squire, so I thought this was a fun way to implement his side of the story into the tale. I had a lot of fun writing this and I hope you have fun reading it!

The Chaucer Story Book by Eva March Tappan (1908)

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Reading Notes: Canterbury Tales, Part B

The Prioress's Tale: Little Hugh


  • This is an anti-Semitic "blood libel"
    • "Blood libel, also called blood accusation, the superstitious accusation that Jews ritually sacrifice Christian children at Passover to obtain blood for unleavened bread." -Britannica
    • This is literally something I have never heard of, and it is surprising that I haven't
  • These stories were apparently extremely common among Christian communities, though I would argue that these were not true Christians
  • According to Britannica, in "1144 an English boy, William of Norwich, was found brutally murdered with strange wounds to his head, arms, and torso. His uncle, a priest, blamed local Jews, and a rumour spread that Jews crucified a Christian child every year at Passover. A century later an investigation into the death of another boy, Hugh of Lincoln (died 1255), sparked anti-Jewish fervour that resulted in the execution of 19 English Jews." 
    • The death of Hugh of Lincoln is what this story is based on

This is the real shrine to Little St. Hugh
(image from wikimedia commons)

Story Notes:
  • This story starts of problematic and stays problematic
  • The writer wants to draw the reader into the Christian narrative and create a deep attachment to Hugh
    • does this with his description and the interactions with the older boy
  • Almost every line is singing the praises of the little boy, and I understand that he is innocent in all of this, but the way the writer portrays him feels a bit odd
  • Okay. So the writer is insinuating that Jews are in cahoots with the literal devil. Got it. 
  • So the Jews killed Hugh by "cutting his little throat" and now they are disregarding the grief of the mother. Sounds reasonable (please hear my sarcasm)
  • I know this is supposed to be great imagery and convince me to hate Jews, but it is really just making me hate the writer
  • So because one man killed the little boy, all of the Jewish people are to be hanged for it? Seems sketchy.
  • It also seems sketchy that the little boy had his throat sliced but was still singing. I understand that it is because of the power of "Christ's mother," but did people really believe this?
  • He was laid to rest in a solid white temple. Okay.

Overall thoughts:
    I hated this. It is deeply troublesome to me that people would have actually bought in to this anti-Semitism, even though I know it was so prevalent. I think reading stories like these is really important to understanding the historical eras you are dealing with when you are studying any text, but it also is important to remind us of ways of thinking we cannot go back to. As problematic as this story was and as gross as I felt reading it, I think it was good that I read it. I understand better how the writing was so skewed to one school of thought, and I now know exactly what I would never want to emulate in my own writing. 

Britannica on Blood Libels
The Chaucer Story Book by Eva March Tappan (1908).

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Reading Notes: Canterbury Tales, Part A

The Franklin's Tale: The Promise of Dorigen

  • Starts in the classic way of saying "there once was..." I enjoy tales that start this way.
  • The knight, Arviragus, was fair and true, which is all a knight should be.
  • I like the fact that there is a love story. I don't think I've written a love story for this class so I will be interested to see what elements I can pull from this tale
  • This is a classic story of love and tragedy.
  • The story is centered around the broken heart of the young woman, Dorigen. I don't love how the story ascribes to the classic tropes that young women are crazy or hysteric when they don't have their man. I understand that this was just the writing style of the time, but perhaps I could change things up in such a way that there are no sexist and outdated ideas in my story for the week. 
    • I think doing a gender switch could be good for this. 
  • Her friends seem like good people trying to draw her out of her depression.
  • There is good imagery about the garden, but it could stand to do a little more showing, rather than telling, the reader about the beautiful florals. 
  • I don't like the young squire and his unrequited love. I think it is a bit creepy when people so desperately pine over someone they don't have that they literally die? Call me crazy, but that does not seem like the most rational option here. 
  • When he is begging her to love him at the end of the story it is just kind of cringe-worthy. 

Dorigen and the squire
(Image by Mary Eliza Haweis, from wikimedia commons)

The Promise of Dorigen (cont.)

  • I'm proud of Dorigen for outright rejecting the squire. I think women are often written so that they succumb to the will of any man that wants them.
  • Okay, I should have seen it coming that there would be some twist where the squire would make some miracle happen so that the rocks would sink and Dorigen would have to be his wife. I do not like him.
  • I'm glad Arviragus actually came back and was good to Dorigen. She deserved it. 
  • I truly do not care about the squire's pain at all. He wants another man's wife and she already said no. 
  • I hate that the squire's brother is in on the scheme. Men.
  • I do not like where the story is going. I think the magic is going to work in the squire's favor.

The Promise of Dorigen (cont. again)

  • This magician seems sketchy, and I truly hope he does not end up fulfilling his promise to Aurelius. 
  • Okay this story is actually turning out to be extremely sad. I desperately want Dorigen to be with the man she wants to be with, rather than having to fulfil some promise she made in a desperate attempt to get rid of an annoying man. 
  • I feel so bad for Arviragus. I hate this. I understand that he wants her to honor her promise, but didn't she make a promise to him first by promising to be his wife forever?

The Promise of Dorigen (end)

  • Okay my hatred for Aurelius lessened a little bit when he understood that Dorigen was in pain and let her go back to Arviragus. 
  • I am very pleased that the story ended with the two lovers rightfully together.
  • I also like the fact that the magician released Aurelius from his bond because he was heartbroken.
  • As for the question at the end of the story, "which of these three men were the most generous," I think Arviragus was the most generous. He was willing to give up his wife in order to have her keep a promise. 

The Chaucer Story Book by Eva March Tappan (1908)

Reading Notes: Russian Folktales, Part A

The Treasure This goat mask is supremely creepy and I imagine the pope looked somewhat like this. (Jullbock from wikimedia commons ) Observa...