Friday, December 6, 2013

Philip Pullman on Storytelling: An Excerpt from His Introduction to the Brothers Grimm

I love Philip Pullman. I found His Dark Materials engrossing, and I enjoyed his quirky fictionalized biography of Jesus as well. Because few books exercised such a formative role in my imaginative life after I began to read than did Grimms's fairy tales, I was delighted to discover that Pullman has done a re-telling of the Grimms's stories.

Here's an excerpt from his introduction to that collection:

I believe that every story is attended by its own sprite, whose voice we embody when we tell the tale, and that we tell it more successfully if we approach the sprite with a certain degree of respect and courtesy. These sprites are both old and young, male and female, sentimental and cynical, skeptical and credulous, and so on, and what's more, they're completely amoral: like the air-spirits who helped Strong Hans escape from the cave (p. 379), the story-sprites are willing to serve whoever has the ring, whoever is telling the tale. To the accusation that this is nonsense, that all you need to tell a story is a human imagination, I reply, 'Or course, and this is the way my imagination works' ("Introduction," in FairyTales from the Brothers Grimm [NY: Penguin, 2012], p. xx).

The photo of Philip Pullman at a 2005 book-signing is by Adrian Hon and is from Wikimedia Commons. 

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