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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

How the Coalition Killed the Gruffalo

Ok, so that's a bit of a stretch.  But our forests and woodland are an integral part of our story heritage - and our 'greenest government ever' wants to sell them off.  You can read more about that - and about a campaign against this thoughtless move - here.

Without woodland, European folklore and myth would not be what it is.  And what it is leads in a glorious and psychologically-satisfying line to the Gruffalo.  (Did you think I'd forgotten my sensationalist title?)

From the hiding place of our national rebel hero: Robin Hood, to that other well-known Hood who shouldn't have strayed off the path, the forest lurks in our psyche as a place of darkness, of secrecy and of danger.  And Julia Donaldson's contemporary classic uses these same resonances, set as it is in the "deep dark wood".
Plaque available from http://www.angelsandfairies.co.uk/ 

Where would our national consciousness be without the tales of Sherwood and its outlaws?  Or the impish figure of the Green Man?  Or the fairy tales of the Grimms, Perrault et al?  The forest is a central trope in our literary and mythic heritage, hovering in our unconscious as a symbol of depth, danger and daring.  Losing it would obviously have terrible consequences for our ecosystem and our leisure time, but also for our identity as a nation.

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