Sunday 9 July 2023

The Academy of Pan Kleks

What I dislike about Jan Brzechwa's fairy tale about pan Kleks and his school is that fact that it tries too hard to remind that it's a fairy tale. 

If you haven't read it or watched the films, here's the gist - a boy lives his life and he's not very happy, then he goes to study in Pan Klek's ("Mister Inkblot", if you translate it to English) Academy and he's much happier there, because he learns all kinds of freaky stuff like flying and talking to animals and all that, what's not to love. 

There are doors to other fairy tales at the Academy. The boy visits some of them, meets H. C. Andersen who tells him "Hey, don't cry over the poor freezing girl right here, it's a fairy tale, I made her up, she's not really freezing!" 

And as things get closer to the end of the story, Kleks himself is weakening and shrinking, and tells his students that "well, our fairy tale is going to end soon, so you'll need to go home". 

The writer is practically shouting "It's not a fantasy story! It's all make-believe! The kid is going to wake up in the end and realize it was all a dream!" 

Which is kind of understandable, because in socialistic times, writing fantasy stories was not healthy. Socialistic realism was the lich-king of literature. 

And this is Jan Brzechwa, 

born in Zhmerynka (current Ukraine), died in Warsaw (Poland).

The book ends with the boy trying to break a spell on his friend, and the friend transforming into Brzechwa himself - the guy you can see above - who tells the boy "Kid, did you really believe all that stuff? I'ts fairy tale, I made it all up! Me, the author of this book!"

Yes, Jan. We got it. 

But anyways, there are some fun ideas that just beg to be stolen and used in the book. 

A barber who steals freckles from his clients because he sells them to a weird old guy who puts those freckles on his own face, and sometimes eats them. 

A prince who gets transformed into a bird, and can't explain to his relatives that it's actually him, because the bird can talk but the prince was hit over the head before his transformation, developed a speech impairment, and still has this impairment in his bird shape. 

A doll that becomes alive and then is confronted by the fairy Queen of Dolls, and stands up to her. 

A very Gaimanesque concept of a magic item that becomes human and runs its own agenda before it's time for it to turn back into its original form, and fulfil its function. 

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