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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Brown - The Young Dragon - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Mermaids, dragons, trolls, princesses, princes, and fairy godmothers!  Julia Brown's book, The Mermaid's Gift and Other Stories from 1912 has all of these and more.
My personal library's focus is on folklore, but public domain  literary tales deserve to be kept alive, too.  For my work, it must be worth telling and fit the interests of my audience.  Today's story and the book it comes from are good examples of that process: what works and what needs revision or rejecting.

The title story is an interesting contrast to Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid."  Unfortunately the book not only is out of print, but it has yet to be digitized and put on line.  Buying or borrowing it currently is your only way to read the entire book.

Personally I would have to condense the title story for retelling and, at 60 pages, even with a double spread, it's too long for this blog.  It would benefit, in my opinion, from condensing.  Let's face it, literary tales of 100 years ago may have a more leisurely and different style of writing.  It's plot and characters, however, are worth discovering.  I won't say more as I don't want to give away just how it is an interesting contrast to Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid."  That may be something leading you to seek it out.

In contrast, I love dragons and found Brown's story of her young dragon told in a style that adds to the fun of a young dragon testing out the conservative views of some elders against those of his more liberal father.  There's more fun to the story than that, but here you can see for yourself.

Unfortunately none of Julia Brown's works, if there were more, are yet digitized.  With a name like Julia Brown all references I could find were clearly still living 100 years after this book was published.  If she has descendants, perhaps they will appreciate this evidence of her creativity and whimsy in my efforts at  Keeping the Public in Public Domain.
This is part of a series of bi-weekly posting of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories. 

Currently I'm involved in projects taking me out of my usual work of sharing stories with an audience.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  This fall I expect to return to my normal monthly posting of a research project here.  Depending on response, I will decide at that time if "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my monthly postings.

1 comment:

Jean Fitch from jlfstudio said...

Thanks Lois for highlighting a childhood (and as an adult too) favorite. I was lucky enough to have this book passed down to me from family who read it and cherished it in turn. It's one of the few things that survived my childhood and gave me a lifetime love of reading.
A shame it hasn't yet been digitized so others can easily find it and enjoy it.