Saturday, 2 June 2007

'The Magic Pudding'

"A peculiar thing about the Puddin' was that, though they had all had a great many slices off him, there was no sign of the place whence the slices had been cut. `That's where the Magic comes in,' explained Bill. `The more you eats the more you gets. Cut-an'-come-again is his name, an' cut an' come again is his nature. Me an' Sam has been eatin' away at this Puddin' for years, and there's not a mark on him".
Norman Lindsay's "The Magic Pudding" was written in the middle of the First World War, though actually published in 1918.

The story of the Magic Pudding is one of the great stories of the hazards of having something for nothing. The interesting thing about this is that it repeats in Australian terms a universal theme. (Growing up in the UK I remember 'The Magic Porridge Bowl").

The Magic Pudding was a pudding which could be steak and kidney pudding, or it could be a plum duff, or an apple dumpling; you just had to turn the dish around and whistle twice and it changed to whatever you wanted. It was absolutely unlimited in supply, and the pudding enjoyed being eaten and in fact pleaded to be eaten.

The theme of inexhaustible abundance is one which also runs through popular thinking about economics in all societies. These stories are all part of a very deep folk tradition, related also to the story of the three wishes. There is always a catch, a hidden trap, or a built in punishment for being too greedy. The magical gift is not to be abused. He of course realised that children love hearing or reading about eating delicious things and lots of them.

..."Round a bend in the road [the noble society of Puddin' owners] came on two low-looking persons hiding behind a tree. One was a Possum, with one of those sharp, snooting, snouting sort of faces, and the other was a bulbous, boozy-looking Wombat in an old long-tailed coat, and a hat that marked him down as a man you couldn't trust tn the fowl yard. They were busy sharpening up a carving knife on a portable grindstone, but the moment they caught site of the travellers the Possum whipped the knife behind him and the Wombat put his hat over the grindstone.
Bill Barnacle flew into a passion at these signs of treachery.
`I see you there,' he shouted.
`You can't see all of us,' shouted the Possum, and the Wombat added, `Cause why, some of us is behind the tree."

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