Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"American bears are, for the most part, more assertive and autonomous than English bears."

Andrew Sullivan has a post up linking to comparisons of bears in English and American popular culture. Unfortunately, its analysis leaves out the Bulgy Bears, three minor but nonetheless charming and wonderful characters in Prince Caspian in C.S. Lewis's Narnia series. Among other things, they feed Prince Caspian honey and help fortify him for the journey ahead.

The eldest of the Bulgy Bears also informs Caspian that, by tradition, bears always served as marshals of the lists. Peter smiles and says that he cannot understand how the Bear could have remembered that when so many other things have been forgotten, but that he is indeed right. A dwarf protests that the Bulgy Bear is likely to suck his thumb and go to sleep in front of the enemy. But Peter stands fast and tells him that he trusts the Bear to fulfill his duty. The Bear does suck on his paw during battle and thus looks uncommonly silly, but the Narnians nonetheless win their battle. The whole story always struck me as kind of charmingly Burkean (as opposed to annoyingly Burkean), and the Bear's devotion to liberty over Miraz's totalitarianism is of course admirable. All in all, a fine example of a spirited British bear -- and one whose politics Andrew Sullivan perhaps ought to approve of more than I do.

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