Thursday, 14 April 2016

Matthias the Shooter’s Stories

The title of this week’s tale may appear mundane enough, but the tales contained within are disturbing. We meet the hulders living alongside Christian folk—though under the ground—and who are irritated by the Christian children’s noisy play to such an extent that they threaten them in order to quieten them. We are also introduced to the concept of huldrin, when the hulder-folk enchant Christians, robbing them of all volition and energy. It is a serious condition that takes a long time to recover from. Finally, we meet our friend the nis, who doesn’t take kindly to being thrown around by the ears.

An interesting moment in the frame narrative is Matthias’s belief concerning the origin of the subterraneans—that they are fallen angels whose sin was not severe enough for them to be sent to Hell.

But if the pleasure lies in seeing the hare killed and torn by the dogs, this ought rather to stir pity, that a weak, harmless, and fearful hare should be devoured by strong, fierce, and cruel dogs.

Thomas More, Utopia, 1516

The talk of hare coursing in the text still gives this poor translator a slight headache. I am not competely certain that I have made correct usage of the terminology. If you are able to offer any corrections or improvements, please let me know in the comments.

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