We all love stories. But if asked to explain what it is that make them loveable, we tend to be nonplussed, like St. Augustine when asked to explain what time was. Doris Vella Camilleri devotes a first chunk of her book to exploring the different things that different kinds of stories do. She focuses most of all on the kind of story that is usually said to involve the ‘magical’ but which she prefers to call the “miraculous”. Indeed, these stories bring out a relationship between our world and a superior order of existence.
They do not display factual patterns of events like science or history but underlying motivations of ongoing struggles between forces of good and evil. In the bulk of her book, Doris Vella Camilleri probes into the variations which the same folktale themes undergo (on the way she happily discovers a more beautiful Maltese version of one classic tale) and into the even more diverse interpretations of the same story. She provides a great deal of stimulating material for teachers and intelligent mothers with which to enrich their story-telling and for grown-up children who wish to re-think childhood experiences of an enchanted world in view of moral choices.
Peter Serrracino Inglott
PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY