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Mrs. Todd's (Pastoral) Shortcut

Fred Porcheddu
Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
Vol. 19, No. 1 (72) (2008), pp. 5-24
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24352402
Page Count: 20
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Abstract

This essay demonstrates and discusses the conformity of "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut," a modest tale in Stephen King's 1985 Skeleton Crew collection, to the formal tradition of pastoral narrative founded by the Greek poet Theocritus in the third century BC. Elements which mark King's story as a pastoral range from the superficial (its rural setting and its characters' names) to the thematic and conceptual (its message of wholesale retreat from the busy world, and its inclusion of a "singing match" in which King's latter-day shepherds tell competing stories of uncanny experiences from their youth). The essay also discusses King's deliberate concealment of his pastoral motives via his authorial note on the story, and asserts that our ability to observe the story's formal characteristics allows us to broaden and enrich our sense of the vast pastoral tradition itself.

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