Thursday, December 19, 2013

Goblin Market: A story of beguiling goods

I've always been fond of poetry, although perhaps not to the extent my grandmother was.  I certainly enjoy a few well turned words on occasion, and I absolutely revel in fantasy.  I love reading about humanoid* creatures that have extraordinary powers and ill motives.  So, it should come as no surprise that one of my first selections for this blog is a book of poetry with the word "goblin" in the title.

I was not remotely disappointed.  Goblin Market and Other Poems is a very enjoyable collection of the works of Christina Rosetti.  I came into this reading experience mostly cold.  I did not know anything of Rosetti or her poetry.  She is a very fine writer, her words are gorgeous.  "Goblin Market" is as a luscious feast of imagery.  Her descriptions of the goblins were very different from any I've come across before in that they were "little men" and were depicted as greatly varied.

As far back as I can remember, I've always had a concept for "goblin."  My understanding of what the word means has been influenced by the Labyrinth The Lord of the Rings, King's Quest VII and Magic: the Gathering.  It's interesting to note the difference between those franchises, but I find it even more fascinating to learn of her depiction more than a hundred years ago.  Goblins with animal features who sell fruit for silver coins or a lock of blonde hair seem whimsical and mischievous more than beastly.  They are creatures to beware nonetheless.  They certainly drive a very hard bargain.

The story unfolds line by line, and though I am no English teacher, I can tell that it is heavily laden in symbolic meaning as a coming of age story for two young sisters.  I'm still not certain I really understand all of the meaning behind it.  I'm pretty dense when it comes to deciphering symbolism, and I will not spoil my limited understanding of the text by Googling for answers.  I'm sure I wouldn't like what I find.**

And my enjoyment of the book did not end with "Goblin Market."  There are many other wonderful, well worded poems contained within, most of which are short stories in disguise much like the first.  Each one is different from the last, and each adds an interesting takeaway.

As to the format in which I read this book, I have to say, I was not terribly pleased.  Although the book was very easy to obtain and it was free (I read an Epub file from one of the sources I posted  in Radical Paths to Reading), I recommend a physical copy of this book or a digital one purchased from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  The reason for this is the poetry was frequently interrupted to inform me that it was "Digitized by VjOOIC" which was very disruptive.  However, if you can tolerate that, it is available through said source.

I wish I'd read this one much sooner.  Going back to my first post, the theory that I do not read enough good books, I'm already beginning to see that there are plenty of "good books" yet to be read.  Still not Mark Twain, but I'll get to that later.

 *"Humanoid" is among my least favorite words.  It's a lovely concept, but goodness, that word is ugly.  Any word with the syllable "noid" in it is doomed to failure.  I wish "humanesque" was a word.  Maybe I should go with "nonhuman sentient creatures" but then it doesn't really get across other similarities beyond sentience.  And it's a cumbersome phrase.  I suppose I could have gone with "fae" and it would have covered most of the ones common in fantasy, but it would have completely neglected space aliens and mermaids.  And we can't have that, now can we?

**It seems as if there is an unwritten law in great literature and nursery rhymes that there should be dark symbolism hidden in nice cheery pleasant stories.  Frankly, the world is nasty enough without it in my opinion.