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国際化推進のための公開講座 “THERE BE FAIRIES HERE AND ANCIENT MAGIC: An Irish Landscape of Fairies and Myth” 開催報告

2024年5月16日に宮代ホールで、英語文化コミュニケーション学科・大学院英語英文学専攻共催の「国際化推進のための公開講座」“THERE BE FAIRIES HERE AND ANCIENT MAGIC: An Irish Landscape of Fairies and Myth”が開催されました。ご来場くださった皆様ありがとうございました。

以下、本学科David McNeill教授によるご報告です。

O.R. Melling’s website describes her as a writer, artist and “world-wandering adventurer” so perhaps it was only a matter of time before she wandered to Japan. Born in Ireland and educated in Canada, the author has a dedicated fan base in this country: Seven of her books, starting with The Druid’s Tale (1983) have been translated into Japanese and published by Kodansha. A group of her readers, clutching copies of these treasured books, turned up to hear her talk at Sacred Heart University on May 16th, along with students and literature professors who grew up reading them as young adults.

Melling guided the audience through her stories, which are set in the Irish countryside, and tap into its Celtic mythic past. Lakes, fairy forts and other physical remnants are portals into this mythological world, she said, and her female characters often endure long arduous journeys of growth and transformation through the landscape. The talk was illustrated by images, maps and beautiful photos of the novels’ settings, including Achill Island and the Hill of Tara, the traditional seat of the high kings of Ireland. For years, the author explained, fans of the books from North America, Germany and Japan have been turning up in Ireland to traipse the paths taken by her fictional characters.

Melling had a youthful energy and drive. She peppered her talk with a few words and phrases of Japanese, including telling her wide-eyed audience that she has nine brothers and sisters – a typically large Irish family. The power of myth in the Irish landscape, she said, was not to be easily dismissed. Roads had been diverted around fairy trees, traditional sacred grounds for the ‘sídhe’, or fairies; farmers would often not chop them down and “bad stuff happened” when they did, she explained.

Melling said she was overwhelmed by the reaction to her books here. Readers have come from as far away as Hokkaido to meet her. When her most successful book in Japan, The Hunter’s Moon (1993) was published, she said, she heard that its fans gathered dressed as fairies. Nobody went that far in the Miyashiro Hall but everyone who was there came away enchanted, nevertheless. Melling said she would love her books to be released as manga or illustrated novels. Perhaps the next time she is in Japan will be to launch a new book.