Is anything more two-faced than a looking glass? Even the words—mirror in English and miroir in French, espejo in Spanish and spegel in Swedish—have roots hinting at our ambivalence toward an invention that sprang from nature and was perfected in the scientific age. Mirror and miroir are derived from the Latin mirare (to look at), which is a […]
In his TEDSalon NY2013 talk, “The Unheard Story of David and Goliath,” Malcolm Gladwell posits that the long-held belief that the Biblical tale is a “metaphor for improbable victories” is false. Any reader able to place the story in its proper context will see that when the Philistines put forth their champion, the giant Goliath, […]
“My daughter can spin straw into gold.” The miller’s boast captures a king’s interest and the innocent, ordinary girl must do the impossible—or die. “Rumpelstiltskin,” as told by the Grimms in 1812, is a familiar story whose origins go back hundreds of years. In variants, such as the British “Tom Tit Tot,” the daughter spins […]
On April 26, 1986 reactor number four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in northern Ukraine exploded, throwing up enough radioactive material to contaminate much of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe. Thousands of people were evacuated from the 30 km Exclusion Zone, abandoning homes, schools, entire villages, and a way of […]
In 2010, I wrote a blog post for my personal website that I called “Teddy Bear Country,” in which I attempted to answer my daughter’s question: “Why are bears like babies?” She meant, why are bears so often portrayed in an infantile fashion, as in modern versions of “The Three Bears,” and the ubiquitous teddy […]
“According to Hindu belief, a thumb-sized being known as the innermost self or soul dwells in the heart of all humans and animals.”1 Hans Christian Andersen’s “Thumbelina” is believed to be an original tale, inspired by “Tom Thumb.” The tiny girl is not heroic in the sense that Tom Thumb is; he battles an ogre, and […]
Fiction writers and storytellers are forced to be aware of time because they must make it flow. If the story takes place during 24 hours or several hundred years, time must flow at a pace that can be experienced by the reader or listener. In action-packed stories, time passes like the beating of a drum, fast and furious, steady…and it’s over. In stillness, something different is experienced, and time can nearly be stopped.
An interview with British author and folklorist Katherine Langrish.
In the northern hemisphere, many of us are longing for the arrival of spring, and there are no more welcome heralds of spring than birds—the increased movements of those that braved the winter and the return of those that sought warmer lands for a time. Birds are enigmatic. They are wild animals and yet they […]
In April 2011, French designer Christian Louboutin sued American design house Yves Saint Laurent over the latter’s manufacture of red shoes with red soles. In his defense, Louboutin claimed that the use of red soles is his exclusive signature. The suit was thrown out of court, with Yves Saint Laurent lawyers claiming, “Red outsoles are […]