the snobbery

That reminds me:

It actually cracks me up every time. Okay, I guess in 2015 more people would think of a white-haired guy who’s good at swordfighting as “Geralt of Rivia” rather than “Elric of Melniboné” (thank you CD Projekt RED; now do poor ole Mike a favour and licence Elric out for your next series? LOL). But.

What’s really up with white hair? Okay Drizzt do’Urden has it because he’s a drow. Then there was the (male) PC from the original Divine Divinity by Larian Studios, which came out in around 2002 (i.e. after all the books, be it MM or pan Sapek, were written, but way before TW the game was out): and he has white hair, too. Without any backstories, though. Maybe the female PC has, too, but I play a male wizard because he’s got a nice voiceover and the nicest-looking model (no stupid “thief masks”, and his clothing isn’t stupid skimpy).

There’s also the whole anti-franchise vibe in that thread. Y’all know I’m a darn picky reader (and I have good foundations because I studied lit classics, like, a lot and in-depth; I may have forgotten plot details of those works, but I still have the literary analysis technique up and running), but there are some lovely novels in the Forgotten Realms series (mostly Paul S. Kemp’s stuff); I’m an almost complete stranger to Dragonlance, but I’m reading Soulforge now, and it’s damn.good.period.

And when I say “good”, it’s a very meaningful “good” because as I bragged a few lines above, I read as a literary critic. My “good” combines writing style, character development plausibility, social relevance yadda yadda yadda.

So, just goes to show that I am not a fan of stereotyping the hell out of everything.

And yet. Speaking of the suspicious-things-in-common. Yes the White Wolf thing (but c’mon, why the hell Elric is dubbed the White _Wolf_ is a bit beyond me – he’s more of a Fox, if anything; while it surely works for Geralt simply because his witcher medallion is a Wolf one, so people put two and two together… hence nickname). Yes the Conjunction of the Spheres thing (a Million thereof in MM’s cosmology; an unnamed number in that of pan Sapek’s – but hey, looking for another name for this makes no sense IMO).

But I have never seen it spelled out anywhere that the dead giveaway of Geralt being a deconstructed Elric (an anti-Elric of sorts, just as Elric was an anti-Conan) are the witcher potions.

The original Sapkowski stories about Geralt were all deconstructed fairy tales. Deconstructed, like, big time.

If you remember, Elric is damn dependent first on his herbs (and only goes off them because something else helps him sustain the ahem quality of life), to the point of them being essential for his mere survival.

A witcher is dependent on his elixirs (actually, dangerous poisons that a non-mutated organism cannot process) as well, but only in combat against monsters. And yet, it’s a matter of survival, too.

See the connection?

Then. Elric is a “moral mutant” when compared to his fellow Melniboneans: he’s got some of that morality, unlike them (apparently it’s a random “naturally occurring” thing in his case, that having a metaphorical heart). And Geralt, being a witcher, is a physical mutant, and it’s not a natural mutation, but one induced. Then again, the popular belief (probably based on the original design of the witchers, and they were designed by some mage hundreds of years ago) is that the witchers’ mutations kill their ability to feel emotions – which is not true in case of Geralt (he’s one huge walking emotion actually, and even though he doesn’t really “whine”, it’s still more than evident in too many ways because he cannot freakin’ control his feelings – he’s never been taught how to, y’know). So… full circle.


4 thoughts on “the snobbery

  1. I always attributed all those pretty, white-haired men to the influence of anime and manga. Shows you where most of my fantasy reading has been in the past ten years or so…

    1. But the thing is, none of these guys are ever actually described as ‘pretty’, neither do they come from books published that recently. Elric is a sixties child, Geralt and Drizzt come from the 80s.

      The DivDiv game character isn’t what I’d call ‘pretty’ either, and there seems to be no Japanese influence about the game (the dev studio is from Belgium).

      1. I think Geralt and Drizzt are on the pretty side, scars and all. I admit I tend to assume a lot of Japanese influence in gaming since they’re industry pioneers.

        My lack of familiarity with much of classic fantasy is due to having read so little of it, and most of what I read later on was derivative of older works or anime/manga.

        I also wonder if the white hair has roots in local folklore or mythology. From what I’ve read and watched from China, South Korea, and Japan, the white hair often functions as a mark of “otherness” to differentiate a character from regular humans. I’m not familiar with European folklore, but maybe there was a bit of crossover in that regard?

        I’ve never given this a lot of thought, I guess, because I rarely notice it.

        I wasn’t into Dungeons and Dragons, so many of those references go flying over my head. I finally bought a R.A. Salvatore book so I could find out who this Drizzt guy was that everyone was talking about (it’s still sitting in my TBR pile, though, and my classic fantasy street cred remains abysmal, ha!) I was like, “what the heck is a drow, anyway?”

        I remember reading Ari Marmell’s “The Conqueror’s Shadow” (I commented on it here, toward the bottom of the page) and seeing criticism about its lack of originality and reliance on D&D tropes. But since my familiarity with D&D is minimal, that simply wasn’t an issue for me. I had a few quibbles with the story, but its reliance on D&D wasn’t one of them.

        1. The funny thing is that whether Geralt is any handsome is a subject of much debate in the fandom.

          In the books, it’s Dandelion who is consistently described as ‘good-looking’; whenever we run into any ‘assessment’ of Geralt’s looks, it’s either a neutral ‘not that young, although not really old either’, or downright negative like ‘that witcher with that revolting mug of his’. The negativity mostly comes from commoners, though, who aren’t too fond of witchers all in all, and Geralt isn’t a likeable sort of a person towards them either (vicious circle), so they may be biased.
          Besides, he’s sure exotic-looking enough because of the mutations (cat eyes – and those are of a ‘dark’ colour in the books; pale skin and that white hair – and as it’s explicitly described that his beard is white, so brows and lashes are most likely white as well), so that alone can tip the balance against him.
          Oh yeah, Geralt doesn’t like his own ‘mug’ either =)

          For all his sexual conquests, it’s been shown that ‘normal’ women aren’t always willing to spend any time with him because those eyes alone will scare them off big time. He’s a huge hit at the sorcerers’ ball in IIRC Time of Contempt, on the other hand; but it’s not clear if those lusty sorceresses want to bed him because he’s so exotically attractive to them, because they like witchers in general (sorcerers can physically sense the innate magic emanated by witchers, and some of them, like Triss, enjoy that sensation a lot) or because they simply want to spite Yennefer.

          What we know for sure is that Geralt is tall and lean; his features are not ‘soft’, and despite witchers’ hardly ever aging, his face is lined because of his emotional trials.
          That’s basically all =)
          // I’m not _that_ great at remembering things, but I actually made a quotation compendium of sorts to base my fanart on =) //

          Drizzt, being an elf, could probably look ‘pretty’ to a human eye, but I don’t remember it being stressed. He’s kinda short, though, because FR elves are like that.

          As for Salvatore’s books, I hope you will be able to look past his lack of writing style and related literary qualities. He’s a very capable storyteller, plot-wise an’all, but the way he tells those stories of his is beyond drab, to me.

          And a drow is a particular type of dark(-skinned) elf from an underground matriarchal society. =) The weird word ‘drow’ comes from Germanic/Scandinavian folklore actually, where a similar word was used for ‘evil’ nature spirits.

          As for white hair in European folklore, I am not a real expert, but out of what I know, I don’t remember it being any prominent or having any symbolic meaning. I guess you’re right about the differentiating aspect of the colour as used by Moorcock and later, even though specific Japanese influence doesn’t seem to be the case in any of these.

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