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March 31, 2023

Eggs! Cracking open Myths and Legends

Eggs! Cracking open Myths and Legends

Where in all the fantasy worlds is the best place to hatch from an egg?

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Ever wondered why we have a bunny collecting eggs at Easter? In this seasonal podcast Julia Golding and Jacob Rennaker take a crack at the long history of eggs in myths and legends, venturing from there into fantasy stories. Where can we find Humpty Dumpty, and what do Dorothy and Oz have to do with eggs? We find Tolkien and eggs scrambled together with the Kalevala and encounter plenty of other eggs within the world of Harry Potter. We also take a deep dive into the idea of the Easter bunny. What are the common themes between all of these mythical worlds and beings? And, of course, where is the best place in all the fantasy worlds to hatch from an egg?

[Music] Hello and welcome to Myth Makers. Myth Makers is the podcast for fantasy fans and fantasy creatives brought to you by the Oxford Centre for Fantasy. My name is Julia Golding, I'm an author but also a director of the Centre and today with me is our friend and frequent podcast partner Jacob Renneker. Now today as we come towards season of Easter, we had a request to think about the role of eggs as they appear in the shops and they look beautiful with all their foil wrapping. What is the association between eggs and fantasy? So we're going to do a great stir up our eggs together and find out if we can create anything beautiful out of them as a result of this conversation. So hello Jacob. Hello Julia, good to be here. Okay so we've agreed to start right back at foundational myths. When you think of eggs and those sort of myths and legends kind of eggs, have you got any particular go-to ones that you think are of interest? Yeah and for me usually the older the better. So, the ancient Egyptian has a variety of different creation myths and there's different you know, kind of schools of creation that develop. One of them is the Hermapolitan theology and with that one, you had kind of this group of this - the Agdoad, And it's this kind of like godhead sort of thing. It's like everything was all together at once, kind of this - yeah, cosmic allness. And then this is before individual gods are created. But the first thing kind of within this fullness is this cosmic egg. And then from that egg, everything is born. The Ra, the sun god, is born from this egg. And so then everything else kind of-- and I don't know if that's because the sun kind of looks like an egg yolk to it. - So there we are. The ancient Egyptians have solved for us the problem of what comes first, the chicken or the egg. - The chicken or the egg, exactly. - Obviously, guys, it's an egg. So we don't have to debate that anymore. I think that idea of an egg holding the potential of life is what we're sort of picking up there. You can see other mythologies or religions, early religions that have this as part of their foundational myths. I mean you've got it in the Greek stories. I see that it's mentioned in the Kaleva, which is like the Finnish, northern version. So it does lend itself. It's Chinese. Oh yeah? Okay, what do the Chinese myth? sort of any differences? - Yeah, well, it's all kind of, so there's really close similarities between like the Orphic egg in Greek and the Chinese myth of Pengu, which is a Taoist monk development. And so in both of those, you really have this kind of cosmic egg that exists at the beginning, and then you have hatching from that kind of a hermaphroditic deity that then kind of from which like life springs. So, you have both of those in the Greek and the Chinese versions which is a really interesting correspondence there. The Finnish, yeah, the Finnish, the Kalevala, that one is particularly of interest to the Oxford Center for Fantasy clearly because Tolkien was captivated by that, wrote his - the story of Kalevala and uses that to really - in a letter to W.H. Auden, he wrote that the beginning of his legendarium was an attempt to reorganize some of the Kalevala, this myth. Especially the tale of Kalevo, the hapless into a form of my own, which that specific one, Kalevo shapes strongly the story of Turin, Turambar that we have in the Silmarillion. So, yeah, the - "Cauldwell" is a great one. I actually have a section of that if you want to hear what Tolkien was so captivated by. He didn't actually really mold this into, or kind of incorporate it into his creation myth, but it's nice nonetheless. - Okay, let's sit back and enjoy if you'd like to read that to us. I presume you're going to read it in an English translation. - This is an English translation, yes. I'll be reading it in Finnish. Finnish, from what I understand, is quite difficult. So, it's been bumped a little bit lower on my language list to learn because of the sheer difficulty. But anyway, here it goes. "One egg's lower half transformed and" - so again, this is the original cosmic egg - "One egg's lower half transformed and became the earth below, and its upper half transmuted and became the sky above. From the yoke the sun was made, light of day to shine upon us. From the white the moon was formed, light of night to gleam above us. And the colored brighter bits rose to be the stars of heaven, and the darker crumbs changed into clouds and cloudets in the sky. - Yes, that's someone who's really looked at an egg. So occasionally you do get those little other bits, don't you? But particularly it's a fertilized egg that's-- yeah. So yeah, that's really-- that's fascinating. course, there's two things to say about that really. One is one of the famous riddles that Tolkien invents is "A box without hinges, key or lid, but inside a golden treasure is hid." Spoiler - I'm afraid I've given you the answer. But it clearly feels it's part of that culture that he's working through. But the other thing there, I think, is that we're talking about the idea of an egg and creation being a really old idea. But actually, one of the things I was...I have a real interest in the history of science. The person who came up with the Big Bang Theory, Georges Lemaître, who was a priest in the mid-20th century, but one of these priests who was also a scientist. One of the images he talked about was like a cracking of an egg to get that idea of a lot coming out of a point. So we could have actually ended up with the big egg crack or something instead, but they went with the big bang instead, which is probably, you know, works a bit better. So it is an image which even much more contemporary scientists have reached for to explain this idea of you've got a sort of moment of a point of intense creativity that explodes into the universe as we know it, 13 point something billion years later. Okay, so myths and legends. We're now going to blend that into the world of fairy tales and legends where eggs have a more of a specific role as opposed to a sort of archetypal creation role. The first one I thought of was, of course, the Golden Goose, which...I mean, I think the Golden Goose appears in a number of fairy tales, but the one I was thinking of is a minor character. Oh, she. Sorry. Sorry, Golden Goose. He is a minor character in Jack and the Beanstalk as one of the things that is stolen from the giant. But of course, there are other fairy tales where Mother Goose or the Golden Goose, not Mother Goose, actually stars. So have you got a favourite fairy tale with eggs involved? >> BWK That was a good one. I do like Hans Christian Andersen's The Woman with the Eggs. So it's the Aesop's version at least of the Goose with the Golden Egg, you know, kind of like explicitly as the futility of greed, right? So, the goose is laying these eggs instead of just like waiting for the natural process of eggs to develop, then you know, person cuts it open and then tries to get the eggs but in doing so, ruins the mechanism for producing this goodness. So, it's yeah, the kind of futility of greed. How it comes across in the woman with the eggs in Hans Christian Andersen is there's a woman who has this - I can't remember if it's a duck, because it was a chicken, some sort of creature, avian creatures laying eggs and they're particularly good eggs and it lays - she lays all of these different eggs and she's taking them - the story takes place essentially in this woman's mind as she's going to the market. So, she has these eggs, she's balancing them on her head and she's thinking about how am I gonna - like I want to invest this, okay, so if I sell all of these, do I trade? Do I take do I take the money back home or do I invest in more chickens and can I get more? And then once I get more chickens and more eggs, then can I trade up and get a farm? And then can I get a castle? And maybe could I get a prince to be interested in me? And then could I have all of those riches? And so, she's thinking more and more grandiose ideas of what she can do with this basket essentially of eggs on her head. And she's so enthralled with what could be that she trips and dashes the eggs on the ground. And so she doesn't have any eggs to deal with. So it's not quite, it's kind of dealing with greed in a different sense, kind of intellectual greed. It's like count your chickens before they hatch. I mean, that's the adage, isn't it? Which I think all investors of cryptocurrency or any investments, in fact, because stocks go up, go down as well as up. It has that sort of, it should be the foundational myth of every stock exchange around the world. Everyone should read this before they're allowed to invest. So have you got any other fairy tales before we move on to a sort of more long form stories? No, those are the ones that kind of, I don't want to say sprung, I guess hatched immediately to my rescue. So this is obviously a podcast where it's going to be terrible puns all the way through. So, but if you're listening and you thought, oh, obviously, why didn't you mention such and such? Do let us know because we like to actually hear from you when we do our little chats. So going on to fantasy stories, I was suggesting we take them chronologically. The first egg, most famous egg, arguably, is Humpty Dumpty, he of All the King's Horses and All the King's Men, who of course appears in the Alice in Wonderland stories. I think he's he in Alice Through the Looking Glass? Yeah, he appears in that one, which suggests he was already a figure from nursery rhymes, I think. I mean, sometimes you're not quite sure where Alice comes first off. I think he was already well known. And in a wonderful illustration, of course, with him sitting up on a wall. And I think there you've got this playfulness of the nursery rhyme world. And of course, the key thing about that is, in a very gentle way, teaching kids that you can't mend things that you broke. If you break your toy, all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again. I'm sure many a parent has used that little rhyme when I know something's been dropped on the floor, the ice cream's fallen off the cone, and to make a child laugh. And there is an element of that as a gentle sort of message that these things are delicate, you know. So that's what I take from the Humpty character, and of course he's not the world's brightest soul. - Yeah, but what's interesting about Humpty Dumpty is his use of language and like how he kind of, I don't want to say fashioning language, but it's more like twisting and bending language to fit his own purposes. And you actually have Tolkien referring to Humpty Dumpty in his essay or his presentation, this later turned into an essay on fairy stories. He says that, you know, he says like, if I can invoke the powers of Humpty Dumpty when he's talking about, you know, creating the term sub-creation and like talking about fantasy as a mode of expression. So, Tolkien is familiar with Humpty Dumpty and specifically for Tolkien, at least at that point, what interested Tolkien was Humpty Dumpty's kind of silly use of language and insisting upon a word meaning something that it isn't commonly - in the way that it's commonly used. Yeah, so a kind of version of Mrs. Malaprop. Malapropism, which is the literary idea of a comedy. You use a word that shouldn't be used in place, but yet it can have a wonderful creativity about it when it happens. And of course, Tolkien was a reader of bedtime nursery tales, so he knew all of this from his own parenthood. Is Humpty Dumpty going out of fashion? I remember as a child that we had a program which every child here would have watch because everybody watched the same programs - called Play School, which was for the little kids. They had a soft toy called Humpty Dumpty, who was like a character in this thing. I've seen Humpty Dumpty used as a political - particularly because Trump and Dumpty rhymes - I've seen it used in a political satire sense, which we're not going there, but um, although it would be quite interesting because what they're picking up on is ideas of fragility and things, isn't it? So it lends itself to satire, but I don't know, are people using children's rhymes as much at home? You've got a younger family than me, and mine are all grown up. Does he make the these days. >> Yes, he does, simply because he's part of a, we have a book that has stitched nursery rhymes. So picture somebody that's done this, it's just marvelous depiction of different nursery rhymes and Humpty Dumpty is one of them. And so yeah, no, I know it was part of a rhyme that they used in one of his swim classes, they used Humpty Dumpty. So it's beyond just the walls of my home. And I know there's a recent, fairly recent children's book, kind of a picture book called "After the Fall," kind of a story about resilience. So it's about the putting together. So kind of challenging the traditional, right? You know, that you're shattered. So it's kind of dealing with trauma, like the after, what happens after things have broken? How do you move forward? So yeah, yeah, a nice time. - You have to be a bit hard boiled in life. Yeah, another terrible pun. - It's good, it's good. - Okay, so moving on from the world of Alice in Wonderland, where do we go next? Well, have you got one that you'd like to lob in at this point? - Yeah, at this point, "Osma of Oz." So from the "Wizard of Oz," the Oz series. And in that particular tale, you have Dorothy and friends being turned into ornaments by an evil gnome king, as evil gnome kings are want to do. And they're trying to rescue the royal family of Oz. And the one thing that gnomes fear most are of course, hen's eggs. So, thus begins a treacherous quest to find hen's eggs to frighten the gnome king into releasing the royal family of Oz. MADDIE - I did not know that, that's very pleasing. So thank you very much. So I've already mentioned the appearance of the riddle about eggs in The Hobbit, but we also of course get Gollum's great love of eggs, eggsies. So I think this is all down to a kind of British cuisine of like fried eggs and breakfast food. Though I think Gollum eats his raw. So there's a presence of eggs there. And I'm trying to think in the Narnia stories. I'm drawing a blank. I couldn't. Yeah, I couldn't. Yeah, I couldn't. I was racking my brain as well for Narnia references to eggs and I couldn't think of any unless it was for breakfast purposes. There's probably something in the Void of the Dawn Treader. You know, you feel that one of those little... Anyway, again, this is a chance for those of you listening who can catch us out to write in and say, "You've missed the most obvious thing going, guys." So one area where I did think about eggs in relation to fantasy stories are more recent ones. So there's a Harry Potter one and there's an Eragon one. So let's take the Harry Potter one because I think they came out more or less...maybe Harry Potter started first. In Harry Potter, of course, you've got the idea of one of the quests in the Olympics they have in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is to seek the golden egg, which you have to go underwater to get. Then Harry has to work out how to hear the message inside the egg. I think actually, this use of egg is different from many of the others because it feels more like a Fabergé egg, like from the world of, you know, Fabergé eggs appear in, you know, detective stories about the Russian court and things like that as a desirable item that's been handicrafted to be particularly valuable. I feel that that egg feels from that tradition more than a, it's not a real, like, not going to crack into anything else. It's not an animal egg. But I do like that image of you have to - again, I'm sure everybody's read it by now - you have to listen to this egg within the element in which it is spawned in order to unlock the puzzle. And that seems a particularly pleasing way of dealing with the how do you make this egg into a part of your clues that you're gathering. Yeah, and just to, in case there are Wizarding World enthusiasts who will be up at arms, they're retrieving, they initially retrieved the golden eggs from the dragon's nest. Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. No, you're fine. Because they do, but they do take it. Yeah. So they're going, so the first, the first trial was trying to get the eggs. So there was put in with like a regular clutch of dragon eggs. So they have to sneak in there, right. And grab it. And then that egg, And then it becomes, to give them an advantage to the second trial. And so that's when they had to take it, figure out, and they just like screamed when it was out, and you know, above water, but then like finally going under, then it made sense and gave a clue. - You are so right. I haven't read them for a while, having my kids been grown up. - In a while. - Yeah, but you have given me a chance to remember another egg, which I think is in the first book, which is Norbert. - Yes, exactly. - 'Cause this is where we get into a rich strain of dragon eggs here. - Yes, yes, dragon eggs. And he's also, Hagrid has a particular soft spot for animal eggs because he also, uh, aragog eggs. So like it's creatures of any kind, uh, Hagrid recognizes eggs as being something that's, you know, vulnerable and worthy of protecting and preserving and nurturing because that's kind of at the core of his, uh, his nature. And so, uh, yeah, so he's, so lots of eggs for Hagrid, Norbert in particular, right, in the first book. book. Yeah, and I think this is where we get that thing about Hagrid having a sort of, I suppose, traditionally maternal role of, I don't know if it, I think in the animal kingdom, both male and female birds will incubate the eggs, but the idea that you have to protect it, it makes him feel, it gives him that softer side. And of course he's completely oblivious to the danger of the creatures he's hatching, which is very fun. So Eragon, I'm afraid I have to admit I think I've only read the first Eragon novel in the trilogy, so I don't know if it goes on. But I do remember vividly the excitement of finding an egg, the boy finding an egg and that being the start to adventure. It does seem like a classic quest trope that you find something of potential which would then launch you into a whole series of other adventures. Are you an Eragon fan? Is it something that you read? (EP) No, it's not something that I was really, that I really got into. But I understand, from what I understand, I mean it's, it's more or less the similar vein as what happens in Game of Thrones where you have your, your long dormant, right? Those final kind of three eggs that then ultimately hatch and kind of introduce a new era to a world. So I'd say that Game of Thrones, and to compare Eragon to Game of Thrones, I don't necessarily recommend that, you know, both for younger audiences to read or for bedtime stories. I think Eragon's okay, isn't it? I mean, it's kind of, um, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It's, uh, YA or, or yeah. That one is, yeah. I just don't know if I would, I don't want anybody to get the impression that if your child loved Aragorn or if they liked Aragorn, they'll love Game of Thrones. I don't want to make sure that they, and they might, but that's up to you as a parent on what exactly you introduce, right? One or two years, right. See, my children was kind of young at, well, they're just becoming adult at the time Game of Thrones was on. And I remember them trying to steer me away from watching it because they thought It's too tough for mum. It's not my cup of tea anyway. But yeah, so it worked the other way around in our household. So what we haven't seen whilst we've been talking is any association between rabbits and eggs. Now I am under the impression, going to the Easter theme, that this is something that started in America because I've seen, you know, that thing on where the president appears with the Easter bunny and it may come from another folklore that's been imported into America. I don't know. Yes. But I'd like to know. Yeah. Well, I just want to put it out there that it's one of the weirdest of our traditions. Okay. Where's it come from? Explain. So, here is yeah, so there's a fantastic article on this by the American Library of Congress, which is kind of like the national repository for American books and other world books. And so, this historian there goes through a really deep kind of examination of American folklore and tracing it back where exactly it came from. So, according to our historian friend, it's coming initially from a reference from the venerable Bede, so coming from the UK. Up north in the UK. Yeah. And so Bede, this is the only reference to Ostra, a kind of Anglo-Saxon goddess. And so this goddess isn't referenced, isn't documented in, you know, non-Christian, any non-Christian sources, this reference by Bede, right, a Christian, is the only reference to this talking about this particular goddess. And then that's kind of picked up on by Jacob Grimm when Grimm, the Grimm brothers Grimm are putting together, you know, they're compiling their folk tales, linguistics of the German country. And so in their book in 1835, the German mythology, so Bede is about like about 700-ish ADCE. And then so this is, you know, a thousand, almost a thousand, one thousand years later, the Grimm brothers actually proposed that uh, ostra that Has one reference from uh, the venerable bead. Um must have been a local, you know, a British kind of localized version of a more widespread germanic god goddess named ostra Um, and it's related to the word east, right? Okay um, but it's difficult to say if there was how broadly that goddess Astra was in German myth largely. They're picking up on it but there aren't real good records of it being widely spread. So, we don't know if it's just kind of a further taking one reference, obscure reference to a possible goddess, Anglo-Saxon goddess, tying it to broader Anglo-Saxon culture and trying to find connections. And so, here's where it kind of comes in into American tradition is 1874. You have, well this is this one's actually a German tradition then that's kind of building off of the Brothers Grimm. This 1874 work is another book on German mythology who examines the tradition of the Easter Hare, H-A-R-E. And that's so this author, Adolf Holtzman, actually proposes a connection between the Easter Hare and the Ostra Goddess mythologically. So that's what's happening over in Germany. And then in America, there's some heavily German populated areas like Pennsylvania in particular where you have German immigrants. In 1883, H. Krebs, in the first volume, there's an English journal on folklore. Here's what he says talking about Easter eggs, now tying eggs, bringing us back to our topic of eggs, Easter eggs with the Easter hare from German. And so, originally, the hare, this is where this kind of generates from. So, somehow, this is making this connection that the hare seems to have been a bird that was related to Astra. The Astras, this goddess of kind of like spring, this proposed goddess of Easter and spring, uh, in among the Germans, it's claimed that she has a bird emissaries and that there's a tradition that one of her birds, this goddess transformed into a quadruped, right? A four-legged animal. Um, and for this reason that the hare in grateful recollection of its former quality as a bird and swift messenger of the spring goddess is able to lay eggs on her festival at Easter time. So that's what you get, rabbits and eggs. -It's a stretch there, isn't it? -Yeah, this proposed connection to like, this is like the game of telephone, but somebody like three people, like two or three people down the line have had a little too much to drink, right? And then there's kind of like, maybe, I thought somebody said something like this, it must have been something greater like this, and then it develops and snowballs and then anything's fair game apparently at this point. And then rabbits are laying eggs. There's an Easter goddess. And now, you can purchase colorful eggs and spend your hard-earned money buying chocolates and whatnot to appease your children who will be demanding it from you. Yeah. I mean, obviously, it gets taken over by the powers of marketing and commerce at some point to end up as a bunny and everybody has to buy them. But I think there's a more basic connection which perhaps explains the link. We are the pagans of the Easter festival, as opposed to the Christian one, which was chosen to fall at this point because it's the turning point of the year. You can see why it's...but there's the fecundity idea. So rabbits lay a lot of little rabbits, bunnies. And this time of year, the birds are laying a lot of eggs in the Northern Hemisphere. So let's put those together and you give the rabbit the job of going around collecting the eggs. So you can sort of see that and it's, you know, okay. Even to this day, adult children in my household insist that we do an Easter egg hunt in the garden with a bar strip. They don't put rabbit ears on or anything like that. It's not, it's the actual finding of the eggs, which is the tradition here. And of course you then get, you know, three months later you find some of them have been forgotten when you're digging in the garden. So it has a, I think it's almost got bigger over here than it used to be. Because when I was little, it was much more about you got one Easter egg at Easter. Whereas now it's, you got to go on hunts, lots of stately homes around the country, like big Easter egg hunts in big massive estates. know, it is, it has got as many as it's grown. I don't know if that's like folkloric or mythological inflation, right? Well, a commercial, right? Anytime the money's involved, like it's always going to cost more, it's going to balloon, you're going to have to buy more. And I think that actually ties into some of the like broader themes that we see that you mentioned earlier about like, what, what do eggs represent? And I know, like, with some people, friends that I had, their parents put, you know, put actually money in the eggs or like candy in those plastic eggs, right? So, it's finding the treasures that are inside the eggs. And so, when you're looking at eggs, it seems like you didn't know - so, you didn't know what was actually going to be in it or if it was a candy, what type of candy was it going to be, the candy that you actually liked or is that going to be one that you're going to have to you know, con your younger sister into trading you for to get the actual good one, right? But this idea of like potential, you know, there's new life you mentioned there, the correlation between springtime, abundance, fecundity, like you said, then this idea within the egg of potential that we saw at the beginning of our discussion here with the myths, right? So, everything in the world being involved, being compounded, compacted into something so small that then can develop. And I had something with C.S. Lewis use this imagery in I thought a really moving way of an egg, kind of a silly way, but also a moving way in mere Christianity when he's talking about kind of personal transformation and development, this idea of potential, right? Is it okay if I read a little snippet from this? Yeah, no, let's have a bit of C.S. Lewis. All right, so he says, we can only, and we're again referring to personal transformation, permanent kind of positive forward movement into something more bigger than yourself. He says, "We can only do it for moments at first. It is hard, but the sort of compromise we're all hankering after is harder. In fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird. It would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present, and you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg, we must be hatched or go bad." >>ALICE: Yeah, so there's a - what that actually is picking up on, which I'm sure you'll know, Jacob, but there was this phrase around at - when he was at school, of being a good egg. You'd say of somebody, "They're a good egg." Like, "They're a sound chap." It's that kind of idea. So he's nodding to that phrase, which was still used, but now it's got slightly, It sounds very posh. It's a good egg. It's got that sort of public school feel to it. I was reflecting on this because I've written a lot of books and I was thinking, "When have I used eggs myself?" I've used them in two ways in fantasy. One is the dragon egg potential. My first series of fantasy books was called The Companion's Quartet. In the second one of those. Two of the dragons are having a clutch of eggs and when they hatch, one of my main characters is connected or paired up with a golden dragon. So that's the idea of who becomes her lifelong friend and living beyond her life, because obviously dragons have long lifespans. So I've used that and the idea of that incredible gift that you get a dragon's egg. I've also used it to comedic effect. I wrote a time travel story in my Mel Foster series. It's called Mel Foster and the Time Machine, which uses the Fabergé egg idea. So the thief in this story has - well, stand back a little bit. HG Wells is the time traveller, which is like the time machine. It's a very famous time travel story. But at the beginning of that story, there's a prototype which he sends off randomly into the past. He's not actually traveling on it. And I was thinking, "Where does that go?" So my character's finding this prototype and the thief is using it to steal items and leaving behind in their place, as a sort of mockery, I was here, a piece of fruit. So he steals the biggest diamond on the Queen Victoria's crown and puts an orange there and he goes and steals a Fabergé egg in the Tsarist court and he leaves a pineapple and so on. So I use the idea of the Fabergé egg being the thing that if you're a gentleman thief, you'd want to steal. So I had, unbeknownst to myself, been linking into this tradition. You know, what he's seen goes all the way through myths and legends. So just to wrap up our discussion as we head towards Easter, we need to think now in our little game of where in all the fantasy worlds is the best place for something. I wonder where in all the fantasy worlds is the best place to be actually hatched from an egg. So the idea here is I suppose you might be a bird, but you could be a dragon or some kind of snake or a human, if you think that's possible, where would you like to hatch out and find yourself? Yeah, this is a good question. I think when I think about this, and as I think about this more broadly, looking at like being hatching from an egg in, you know, transmedia, like different across not just in novels, but in other storytelling modes. And I mean, you have Pokemon go right where you're with your phone trying to like catch, you know, gather eggs collect them nurture them and catch them um, I don't know that I don't think I don't think I would want to allow myself to have Leave my fate up to somebody with a cell phone So probably not pokemon go. Um, but perhaps something, uh more I was thinking uh, uh, jim henson's fantasy world of sesame street So, we have these creatures, right? So, like, I think I would consider that a fantastic word where you have talking, you have monsters, talking animals of different sorts that live side by side with humans. And so, big bird, one of my favorite kind of like, almost like personal totems, uh, identifying with growing up. So, the giant, enormous bird, uh, who hatches and has his own nest there on the street and interacts with other children and adults. So, just like the world of Jim Henson, it's like accepting, understanding, not afraid to like shy away from - they're not shying away from the difficult difficulties of life, of emotions, right? Of loss even. But it's just kind of like a neighborhood, a community where people want to understand, sometimes don't, but ultimately they try and then everybody kind of together comes through on the other side stronger as a community. So Jim Henson's world of Sesame Street is where I think I would want to hatch from as an egg. - And I've just, this has given me a chance to think of one enormous area that we've neglected, which of course is the phoenix, the phoenix egg. So that's my pick. I'd like to be a phoenix egg because of course you come back again. You could be the Phoenix in Harry Potter, but of course it comes also from older cycles of Middle Eastern tales and all over. So I would choose to hatch as a Phoenix egg, but I'm getting a little bit of a benefit of eternal life there. So it's a bit of a cheat. But let's do a nod to the Phoenix, which I think is probably worth a program all of its own. - Well, yes, and actually along those lines for my tip for this round is actually the, it's a book that has this gorgeous illustration, it's on the cover actually, of the Phoenix. This is Jim Kay's depiction of the Phoenix from his illustrated Harry Potter book. So this is Harry Potter, a History of Magic. It's a book that kind of catalogs a number of different exhibits that the British Library has done on different mythological creatures, kind of pairing those with elements, mythological elements from J.K. Rowling's works and the Wizarding World. So there's a section here, and Jim Kay, if you haven't seen Jim Kay's illustrated versions of the Harry Potter books, they are phenomenal. They are treasures to be sure. And one of them, he does a detail of all the different dragon eggs that are mentioned. and they're incredibly ornate and colorful and just a delight to actually have it right here. So you have a variety of eggs, different shape sizes. You have even like a little kind of scale there to show you exactly how many inches they are. So one wonderful book that kind of combines the historical mythological with the fantastic and the creation has pages from Rowling's personal writing, sketches, outlines and that sort of thing. So if you're a creative and or just somebody who likes myth, this is kind of where both of those worlds meet, where you can see kind of the creative process and how it intersects with world myth and ideas that we have about different fantastic things. - That's lovely. And of course it reminds me of one aspect about eggs, which we haven't mentioned, is you don't know what you're going to get, absolutely, until it hatches. So it's a wonderful surprise, which is a bit like creativity. You don't know what you're gonna get until you hatch the idea. My tip actually is connected with the inklings rather than eggs, which is I've got fascinated recently by Dorothy Elf Sayers. Now she is a well-known as a crime writer, but she was very similar in some ways to C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams in that during the late '30s, early '40s, she became a public broadcaster on Christianity she wrote plays a bit like T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral for the various - there was like a revival of the mystery play idea in that mid-century period. And she's absolutely fascinating. She's one of the figures I've actually managed not to read until recently, but I'm finding her absolutely fascinating and enjoying reading my way through the Lord Peter whimsy opus, which he starts off being a bit of a twit, upper class twit, kind of that figure. And he gets more and more interesting. And by happenstance, because I happen to have the last book in the house here in a very old, I read the last book first. And what I'm really fascinated about is that in that story, once the ne'er do well has been arrested, it doesn't stop there, but she stops to consider the effect of having to put - because in those days there was a death penalty - the responsibility of the detective for taking somebody to the gallows and his feelings of guilt and stress, particularly because he's a PTSD sufferer. And I thought, "Yeah, that is really interesting because we're so used to the handcuffs. Leave them away. I would have gotten away with it. If it hadn't been for you meddling kids, we're used to that. But actually to keep the story running and saying, "Oh, what happens next?" was fascinating. That's interesting. Have you read her book, Mind of the Maker? It's coming in the post. Fantastic. Okay. There's one of her plays, Zeal of the Lord, has a similar idea of creativity in it. which is very, having picked up on our conversation about Tolkien and creativity, a lot of the ideas chime very well with Tolkien. Though I think they knew of each other, but they didn't actually, they weren't friends. The friendship was between C.S. Lewis and Dorothy L Sayers. Anyway, so that's my tip. Have a look at Dorothy L Sayers. You can either go for her detective stories or have a look at her Mind of the Maker if you're interested in the creative process. Or a biography, because she is a fascinating woman. I found out she was in the first cohort of Oxford women graduates to be awarded a degree. They picked seven people in 1920 - seven women - to have the ceremony and she was one of those seven. But it took Cambridge Shame on you, Cambridge, my first alma mater - took them until after the Second World War to confer degrees. And a little sidebar story here is I met a wonderful old lady at a party who had taken her degree in - finally taken her degree in 1992 because she'd been in the - they thought, "Oh, all those people who took degrees before the end of the 40s, they're still alive, but we haven't actually given them a ceremony. So they wrote to all these old ladies, because they were old by then, saying, "Would you like?" Thinking about five people would turn up. They had enough of these elderly ladies who were all very firm. They all turned up for two days worth of graduation, bringing the whole of Cambridge to a stop as everyone applauded, which is a lovely image of I'm waiting for the reward, having to delay gratification there. Anyway, so thank you very much, Jacob, for discussing the theme of eggs. So I hope everyone enjoys. If you get an Easter egg, I hope you enjoy it, or your Easter egg hunt, or your Easter bunny even, if that's your thing. But thank you very much, everyone, for listening. Thanks for listening to Myth Makers Podcast. Brought to you by the Oxford Centre for Fantasy. Visit to join in the fun. Find out about our online courses, in-person stays in Oxford, plus visit our shop for great gifts. Tell a friend and subscribe wherever you find your favourite podcasts worldwide. (upbeat music)