Gary Westfahl on “Back to the Egg”

By June 27th, 2012

Beyond the Wall contributor Gary Westfahl shares his thoughts on his essay, “Back to the Egg,” below.

As a critic, my natural impulse is always to go where other critics rarely go, so when Jim Lowder invited me to write an essay about George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, I immediately thought about examining its most obscure elements–the three prequels that Martin had written about the characters of Dunk and Egg. Why, I wondered, would an author in the midst of crafting a vast fantasy epic bother to write prequels, which could only serve to further delay its completion? Why, for that matter, did so many other fantasy writers similarly dabble in prequels? These seemed like questions worth exploring, and they became the focus of my essay, which ultimately turned to the theories of scholar Northrop Frye to find some answers. Then, as the title for an essay about some little-known Martin stories, I thought it would be fitting to borrow the title of a little-known Paul McCartney album, Back to the Egg, although Lowder advised me to remove any specific reference to the former Beatle.

Since I was given a suggested length limit (which I ended up exceeding anyway), I realized that I couldn’t deal with all of the interesting issues raised by the Dunk and Egg stories; I specifically regret not being able to speculate about possible film adaptations. After all, as Game of Thrones continues to attract large numbers of viewers, producers will inevitably start looking around for similar properties to adapt, and depending upon the particulars of the contracts that Martin signed with HBO, the Dunk and Egg stories might be available. Further, while the violence and sexuality of the television series make it strictly material for adults, an adaptation of the prequels would be perfectly suitable for younger viewers. A Saturday-morning version of Game of Thrones for the children who aren’t allowed to stay up and watch the real thing? Why not? I think the characters of a maturing knight-errant and the brash young boy who serves as his squire would be ideal for such a project, and I definitely think it’s an idea that merits some serious consideration.

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