Monday, April 09, 2012

Reader's Diary #817- Cyrus Macmillan: Rabbit and the Moon Man

Looking for a story about rabbits or bunnies yesterday, I ended up discovering a Canadian writer I'd not heard of before: Cyrus Macmillan. From Prince Edward Island, Macmillan was not only an author but also a politician, once serving as Minister of Fisheries under Mackenzie King.

Today's story comes from a book of MacMillan's titled "Canadian Fairy Tales," originally published in 1922, and available for free and in its entirety through Project Gutenberg.

Actually, this is not so much a collection of fairy tales as it is a collection of folk tales. According to the introduction, the stories were collected from oral tales passed down by Canadian Indians, the early peoples of Canada. According to Macmillan, "the effort to save [Canadian lore] from oblivion needs no apology." Of course, just as we know that the term "Indian" in reference to the Canadian aboriginal population is rarely used anymore, it's not difficult at this point in the future, to make some possible objections-- apology or not. First the question as to who these "Indians" were exactly remains to be seen. The Dene of the Northwest Territories? The Haida Gwaii of British Columbia? Mi'kmaq of New Brunswick? It's one thing to acknowledge that indigenous oral stories belong in our collective folklore, it's quite another to lump them all together as if the stories passed down by all "Indians" are the same. The 2nd comes from the identity of the anthologist himself. I don't know enough about Macmillan to say whether or not I trust his faithfulness to the original stories, though I did find myself remembering some criticisms of Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus stories and was on guard.

That all in mind, I can simply judge the writing of Rabbit and the Moon Man as if it was written solely by Macmillan itself, and in that regard, I did enjoy it. It was entertaining and light, about a young trapper who develops a plan to catch his snare thief in action. Unfortunately it could have been a bit of a mystery, but the title reveals the culprit. The lack of mystery doesn't distract too much and it's otherwise a nice origin story (why the moon has the face it does, why white rabbits have pink eyes).

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Perogyo said...

Oooh, a book of Canadian fairy tales, good find!

I reviewed a supernatural story today that is from the Philippines, called The Tale of Tonyo the Brave.

Teddy Rose said...

It's always fun to discover "new to me" Canadian authors. I was contacted by a newer Canadian author and he sent me his collection of short stories. I reviewed the title story:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It always veers into dangerous territory when white people start telling the stories of others, but I'll reserve judgment until I have read this.