Hans Christian Atlantic
Broadway, books and the big screen: Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” has enjoyed a considerable fanbase throughout its 178-year existence. If you were in South Korea last year, chances are you caught the soap operafied version of it called The Idle Mermaid. Subtle differences abound, namely the reimagining of Prince Eric as a celebrity chef suffering from prosopagnosia (did we mention this was a soap opera). All these adaptations stem from the notion of a sea princess so awestruck by humanity, she abandoned everything for the world above. But what if the opposite were to happen?
The Shadow over Innsmouth
In one of H.P. Lovecraft’s best-known tales, student Robert Olmstead encounters the mysterious New England town called Innsmouth. Everyone he questions refuses to discuss it, warning him to stay away, much like the ocean dwellers who caution Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Eventually, Robert learns that the elusive residents have been interbreeding with a race of fish-frog beings, the city folk transforming into eternal mer-creatures soon after adulthood. Did we mention the twist where Robert discovers his lineage and the metamorphosis that comes with it? Interestingly, these former humans are called Dagon…
Dagon the Deity
The name Dagon dates back to about 2500 BC, referencing a Sumerian god of fishing and fertility. A significant figure in the Philistine pantheon, Dagon was often portrayed as half-man, half-fish, sort of like Centaur meets Red Lobster. His most prominent appearance in Western literature occurs in Book 1 of Milton’s Paradise Lost:
“…Next came one
Who mourned in earnest, when the captive ark
Maimed his brute image, head and hands lopt off,
In his own temple, on the grunsel-edge,
Where he fell flat and shamed his worshippers:
Dagon his name, sea-monster, upward man
And downward fish…”
Anyone up for a Long John Lovecraftian run?
This edition of Fairy-Tale Files brought to you by intern Stephanie Williams and poetry editor Jon Riccio.