Hi everyone I’m delighted to offer you a new episode of The Art of Enchantment podcast, in which I talk about fairy-tale and myth retellings (and running away to join the circus, and mothers who create, and so much more) with Matilda Leyser, author of
That was a very interesting talk. I wish the presenters had named the recent books - "retellings" of Greek myth - that they criticized. It would have been interesting to consider my own opinion of any of those books which I had read.
My favourite fairy tale retelling are Jackie Morris’s books ‘the wild swans’ and ‘east of the sun, west of the moon’. They are my favourite books.
I have now listened myself! Thank you again for the invitation Sharon.
What I didn't say but believe is the extent to which myth runs through and under everything, and even those things we frame as 'facts' are informed by it. The patriarchy is itself a kind of myth - one by which our culture holds great store. Behind the image of the 'author as creative genius' which I name in this interview is also the capitalist myth of 'the self-made man' - the idea of being a singular origin of greatness, rather than a participant in an unfolding conversation. I wrote about this in a blog about this just before my novel came out, because I felt uneasy about the notion of 'authorship' to which I was meant to subscribe. It's called 'How My Book Came To Be' - an origin myth for the work. You can read it here: https://matildaleyser.co.uk/how-my-book-came-to-be/
I love Sharon's proposition that archetypes have a life of their own. It's akin to what I trying to express now - the myths are there, shaping our lives, whether we pay heed to them or not, so it's a good idea for us to become conscious collaborators with them.
I will listen to this soon! And since you asked - My absolute favorite retelling is The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec. It is a truly artful reweaving of various Norse myths. I keep trying to write something else about it and stumbling for words... magic! The author clearly has some direct experience of Norse magical practice and altered states for oracular seidr work, she gives it voice in the clearest, most accurate, and resonant way I have heard.
What I found of great relieve is how Matilda shifts the core of storytelling from conflict to change. Conflict can be part of transformation but this strange emphasis on conflict and following from that the endless stupidity of good against evil has run its course.
I try to follow in my storytelling too. I can’t even imagine how i could dictate, lead or construct a plot. Those attempts to consciously manipulate belong to a way that bypasses how our metaphoric minds work best. Hints about the complex reality we are in need a living habit of listening in. Every reading, every writing, every telling must do this. Even if an old pattern is used only a new weaving brings it close enough to touch the fabric.
Looking forward to reading Matilda’s book.....
Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful conversation between you and Matilda.
I feel that for writers to open themselves to the archetypes represented through myth and story, is the beginning of an adventurous relationship, (which fortunately you share). Through opening to the profound invisible with an open mind, willing to write it all down, is to discover and birth never ending stories. May your heartfelt words bring courage to others to engage with story that it may flow differently through each yet touch us as one.
The new stories we are to live in our changing world await.....