From: "Alice K. Turner"
Subject: Re: (urth) Jack Vance or There are Doors? Date: Fri, 20 Dec 2002 21:00:41 -0500 Rat rote: > The Cugel stories are in the tradition of "picaresque tales" > (tales about rascals) and we've seen very few in recent times, though they > were common in Spain in the 16th c. You're supposed to both like and > disdain Cugel, and that's the strength of a picaresque tale, which exposes > the attractiveness of wicked behavior and makes us feel the humanity of > even wicked people, all the while entertaining us humorously and indirectly > showing us that wickedness is .. well .. wicked. It's a kind of realistic + > humorous moral tale that is hard to pull off, and Vance does it brilliantly. > Whether on thinks Vance is "great" or not, the Cugel tales are > deft and exquisite exemplars of a neglected genre of Western literature. Oh Ratty, picaresque tales are very much with us today! Without even using my waning brain power, I'm thinking -Tom Jones-(and then the movie), Felix Krull-, -On the Road- and a zillion Hollywood "road movies" including the great -Thelma and Louise-, movies that Jack Nicholson inhabits, with -Easy Rider- only the first of them. It's become a very American form, though the Irish -The Ginger Man- de rigueur in my college days, was another one. And on and on. Picaresque doesn't really mean rascally, it's more an unplotted tale that moves from adventure to adventure without much formal structure. But rascally helps! And the Cugel stories fit perfectly, though most of Vance is a bit more plotted. Let's see, in sf (which I'm less familiar with than some of you) Pangborn's -Davy-, some of Delaney I think, the Fafyrd and Mouser stories if they're thought of as a narrative (maybe that doesn't count, but it almost does). Nearly everyone here can probably improve on that list. For people planning to dive into Vance, let me remind you that our own mantis has written a useful (and cheap) guide that you can find by going to the website marked in his sig. -alga --