Thursday, December 04, 2008

Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children





Cautionary tales are ubiquitous in popular culture; many urban legends are framed as cautionary tales: from the lover's lane haunted by a hook-handed murderer to the tale of a man who shot a cactus for fun only to die when the plant toppled onto him. Like horror fiction generally, the cautionary tale exhibits an ambivalent attitude towards social taboos. The narrator of a cautionary tale is momentarily excused from the ordinary demands of etiquette that discourages the use of gruesome or disgusting imagery because the tale serves to reinforce some other social taboo.

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