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09 May 2010 @ 09:49 pm
What is a Gnome Anyway?  
We all know what vampires are.  Sure there are variations, depending on which universe we are living in at the moment.  But we get the idea.  They are humanoid beings that drink blood to stay alive.

Same with werewolves.  They change at the full moon into a wolf-like creature.  Some are true wolves, some are more of a cross between human and wolf.  But again, we get the gist.

I could go on all day discussing the different types of fantastic creatures out there.  But there is one enigmatic creature in particular that bears a blog post of its very own.  One that is so insidiously innocuous, we may fail to notice his presence until it is too late. 

I am speaking, of course, of the gnome.

What is a gnome, anyway?  Sure, we all get the same picture in our head.  The little plastic guy on Aunt Ethel's lawn, wearing his pointy red hat and sporting a white Santa-beard.  But who are these often overlooked little fellows?

In "The Chronicles of Narnia," C.S. Lewis' gnomes live underground and vary quite drastically from each other in their physical characteristics.  

Frank L. Baum's "Oz" series refers to them as Nomes, dropping the silent "G."

More recent still are the imaginings of J.K. Rowling.  Remember Harry helping the Weasley family rid their lawn of an infestation of gnomes by spinning them until dizzy and tossing them as far as possible?  Ginny even bewitched one as a joke to serve as the topper on the family Christmas tree.

In Libba Bray's newest book, "Going Bovine," a lawn gnome again figures prominently - even making the cover!  Of Course, in this case, he's actually a Norse God - but a gnome nonetheless.

Still, do we really grasp the true nature of a gnome?  I went to my fellow Inkies for input...

Cindy Pon is most familiar with gnomes from role-playing games, so I took it upon myself to do a little research here.  It seems gnomes in role-playing are highly intelligent, likeable, sneaky, and make excellent engineers.  I don't know about you, but I had no idea of the things of which these little fellows were capable.

Kate Coombs said:

"What I find myself curious about is the difference between a gnome and something that seems similar, like a goblin, a pixie, or (in some tories) a dwarf.  Brownies and hobs, too."

Well, in order to find the answer we can look to both Dawn Metcalf and Christine Brodien-Jones who pointed me to a little known book ironically entitled "Gnomes" by Wil Huygen.

Dawn described the book as being like "an anthropologic study of pointy-red-hat & bearded garden gnomes."

Christine said:

"Gnomes are tiny humanlike creatures who live in the corners of forests and barns and always wear a pointy red cap.  According tot he book "Gnomes," this cap 'is made of felt and is solid from its tip to the top of the head...The gnome never removes it except in darkness before going to bed and probably (although we have not seen this for ourselves) when taking a bath.  A gnome without a cap is not a gnome, and he knows it.' Huygen says they are twilight and night beings, not to be confused with elves, goblins, trolls, river spirits or wood nymphs."

I think the main point here is that we shouldn't underestimate these little fellows.  They may be small and wear pointy hats, but they seem to be gaining momentum.  I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe they might just have a master plan.  Take a look at this frightening video I found. 

Next time you go to the garden center or visit Aunt Ethel take a look.  Is the gnome population growing?  Was that where you last saw the one with the spectacles and curly-toed shoes?

Tell me, where have you seen gnomes lurking about?

Mirth & Matter: The Journal of Elizabeth Bunceelizabethcbunce on May 10th, 2010 10:47 am (UTC)
There used to be a wonderful animated children's show called "David the Gnome," starring Tom Bosley as the voice of David. I believe it was a European import.

...And then there are the Underwear Gnomes from "South Park."
Caroline Hootonhooton on May 10th, 2010 10:49 am (UTC)
I've always had a bit of a soft spot for gnomes. My grandparents had 2 cement gnomes in their garden, one of which had the expression of a psycho killer. Seriously, if you were a child with a hyeractive imagination (like moi, pour example), then you'd be convinced that the damned ugly thing came alive at night and murdered small children.

Anywho, for me a gnome must have a pointed hat, buckles on the shoe and be holding either a gardening implement of some kind or a cornhob pipe. They may also fish.

I have a scene in my Never-ending WIP of Revisions (trade mark pending) where my gnomes are actually golems created to protect a house (with the help of some topiary peacocks). They are bad-ass. Although this does not stop one of them getting kicked into a hedge.

Viva Les Gnomes! Viva Les Gnomic Revolution!
Caroline Hootonhooton on May 10th, 2010 10:50 am (UTC)
Erm ... I seem to be deploying v. bad French in that last comment. I suspect it's because as I was typing I was thinking of the travelling gnome in Amelie. Apparently no gnomes were hurt in the making of that film (and the postcards from the gnome were one of my favourite parts in the whole movie).
Devadeva_fagan on May 10th, 2010 11:25 am (UTC)
I loved that same Gnomes book as a child. You could really imagine the fantastic was real when reading it.

Now we have a gnome living in our bookshelf at home:


We're hoping he finds a friend to keep him company one of these days.
charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com on May 10th, 2010 12:55 pm (UTC)
that Gnomes book was a Huge thing back when it came out (in the late 1970s, I think)...I loved it, and still have my copy!
Skylarkskyewishes on May 11th, 2010 08:15 am (UTC)
I just realised you were talking about the Gnomes of Bism! I always remembered them as the 'Earthmen' because I think they get called that too. Please excuse my prior comment.
ctrichmondctrichmond on May 10th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
Elizabeth, I loved "David the Gnome"! My brother and I watched it all the time when we were kids.

My husband believes that we have gnomes living in our apartment. Whenever I notice that my leftovers are gone, he blames it on the gnomes. :o)
mguibordmguibord on May 10th, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
I thinks it's interesting that gnomes have been so completely delegated to lawn ornaments- they must resent that :-)
I think there's a Goosebumps book- Attack of the Lawn Gnomes. Maybe they have been driven to violence by society's obvious disdain and decorative stereotyping.
And I agree that video clip is... creepy!
Lisa Greenlisagailgreen on May 10th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
Elizabeth - I can't believe I missed the whole gnome episode from South Park! I bet that was funny.

Hooton - I love the sound of badass gnomes. That was also my favorite part of the movie Amelie. Viva La Revolution!

Deva - I now own the book and it is so neat! It's getting harder to find gnomes in stores, I think that might be part of the master plan.

Charlotte - I can't believe I didn't know about it until researching this post. It is an awesome book!

C.T. - I'm with your husband! You must be a good cook.

M - I'm so glad the newer generation is on to them (Goosebumps book). Maybe they can do something before it's too late...
charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com on May 10th, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC)
I just remembered that I actually referenced that Gnomes book in my review of R.J. Anderson's Spell Hunter....

Lisa Greenlisagailgreen on May 10th, 2010 04:37 pm (UTC)
So you did! See? Those gnomes are popping up everywhere...
(Anonymous) on May 10th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
Lisa, what a fun post! Here I thought the gnome was just from the "Don't forget your hat!" commercials.

By the way, it's Julie, not "Anonymous."
Lisa Greenlisagailgreen on May 10th, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC)
Hi Anonymous Julie you have much to learn... :)
liakeyes on May 14th, 2010 10:27 am (UTC)
They look rather like leprechauns, don't they?
Lisa Greenlisagailgreen on May 15th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
Lia - just don't let them catch you making that comparison!