chapter  6
19 Pages

Games, Gifts and Taboos

The Art of Rule-Bound Interactions
WithPiotr Spyra

Chapter 6 is an overview of the various forms of deals and contracts with fairies that humans enter into in medieval romance. A detailed discussion of pledges made unwittingly or misunderstood by the human side grounds the analysis of Sir Launfal, Sir Orfeo, Thomas of Erceldoune and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight both in the anthropological context of pollution laws and the Derridean aporia of the gift. The chapter addresses fairy taboos, understood here as counter-gifts, and the paradoxical mixture of the rule-bound and the arbitrary that characterizes the actions of romance fairies. The motif of time warp, or heterochronia, is also presented as correlated with their general liminality and interlocked with the potentially ambiguous terms of agreements between fairies and humans.