Luxemburgensia / „The Pleasure of Drowning“ by Jean Bürlesk is a promising debut
In his first collection of short stories, Jean Bürlesk revisits fairy tales, local myths and fantasy tales, giving them a contemporary twist while adding a pinch of humour and irony. Despite the inconsistent quality of the stories, this is a promising, if somewhat flawed debut.
A long, long time ago, writers started debunking fairy tales. Ever since Vladimir Propp’s „Morphology of the Folktale“, in which the Russian formalist describes the (repetitive) common patterns and functions of these short narratives, writers have rewritten these formative stories over and over, giving them a contemporary edge, weaving the originally rigid storylines or binary characters into more complex, ambiguous plots while adding unexpected outcomes to foreseeable happy endings. For instance, it has become rather unlikely in contemporary rewritings of fairy tales that the prince gets to marry the princess simply by virtue of having saved her. It has become equally improbable that they’ll go on to live happily ever after – probably because a writer keen on using precise words knows that „ever after“ simply doesn’t mean anything.