» fairy tales

Goldenhair (and it’s all Cinderella’s fault)

Sick of me writing about books you don’t have access to? Well, this week’s reading, “Sixty Folk-tales from Exclusively Slavonic Sources”, is online and free! You lucky dog. There were many things that struck me about the selections I read from this book, but one of the most immediate was the complexity of the stories. Not only is there a quest, but the quest has three parts. And then there’s a secondary quest, and that one is usually even more challenging. I’m not sure why it is that the fairy tales we’re used to aren’t set up this way. Perhaps they’ve been simplified, or there may be a basic difference between the oral traditions of Eastern and Western Europe that affected the development of their folktales.… Read More

Dancing and War

This week’s reading for my individual study was an anthology of fairy tale retellings. As is generally the case with anthologies, some stories were stronger than others, but the ones that really struck me tended to recontextualize the source material in a wholly unexpected way. We’re used to retellings from the villain’s point of view, excusing his or her actions. We’re also used to feminist reworkings of popular stories like “Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella” in which the heroine is given a much less passive role. These are not the kind I’m talking about.… Read More

Just Deserts

One of my readings this week in Marina Warner’s From the Beast to the Blonde focuses on the symbolism and origins of the Bluebeard story. In a chapter titled “The Ogre’s Appetite”, Warner discusses many different iterations of a common theme: the serial murderer. What with Perrault’s fairy tales, medieval legends, devoured Catholic saints, and historical child killers, it’s pretty clear that society has been morbidly obsessed with these stories for centuries.… Read More