Thursday, 29 January 2009

literary mashups: gargoyles/carved stone grotesques

I now have a name for my literary mashups: gargoyles. David Barnett writes in a Guardian opinion piece entitled "When Shakespeare met Seuss: mashing up literature" the following:

Being a bookish-type, undoubtedly of frail disposition and chary of crowds and vulgarity, you might not be aware of the concept of mash-ups.

Generally, in the strange and frightening world of young people, this involves some enterprising soul taking two popular music records and taking bits from one - normally the vocals - and playing them over bits from another, usually the music.

At a loose end, I started trying the same trick with literature. Not with the texts themselves (think of the gargoyles you'd produce! Ian McEwan's dialogue blended with Thomas Hardy's descriptions … ) but with the titles.

The titles game, however, is merely a pastime comedy act, as the merged book post on Miss Cellania humorously reveals. A few of my favorites include:

"Lorna Dune" - An English farmer, Paul Atreides, falls for the daughter of a notorious rival clan, the Harkonnens, and pursues a career as a giant worm jockey in order to impress her.

"The Remains of the Day of the Jackal" - A formal English butler puts his loyalty to his employer above all else, until he is persuaded to join a plot to assassinate Charles deGaulle.

"The Invisible Man of La Mancha"- Don Quixote discovers a mysterious elixir which renders him invisible. He proceeds to go on a mad rampage of corruption and terror, attacking innocent people in the streets and all the while singing "To fight the Invisible Man!" until he is finally stopped by a windmill.

Hmmmm, I think I might try these out for real. But it's the gargoyles idea that I love. Gargoyles are carved stone grotesques - combinations of animals and people - whose purpose is to spout water from the side of a building, but who also mythically act as guardians of the buildings on which they reside. There is reason in that mythical connection, because the gargoyle's ability to direct a flow of water away from a building in the form of a waterfall protects the building from decay. I guess what I'm getting at is that literature needs its gargoyles to prevent its decay.

No comments: