marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

Bittercon: Fairy Tales, Familiar and -- Not

How many fairy tales do you really think you can count on being familiar to somone?

Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears -- not many more, I think.

And how many hundreds of thousands of fairy tales have been collected?  Not even counting those that vanished with their tellers?
Literacy and fairy tale collecting bear some of the blame; it couldn't have happened without them.  Joseph Jacobs complained, "What Perrault began, the Grimms completed." when he brought out his own collections of English and Celtic fairy tales -- and if you look at his tales, you will see he had a little success in restoring English fairy tales to English children.

But not all of it.  For one thing, they also allowed fairy tales to spread and outlast their speakers.  For another, even if readers were limited to well-known collections, they would know a lot more.  Grimms' collection offers hundreds of tales.  Even some of Perrault's dozen or so are unknown.  And that's not even counting such collections as Jacob's, or Asbjornsen and Moe's, or Thomas Crane's, or many more.

I read all of Andrew Lang's coloured fairy books while a child.  Dozens and dozens of fairy tales.

And, it's not always happy for the writer.  You have only so many fairy tale tropes to play with.  "Sleeping Beauty is a vampire" for instance, is so common as to be a cliche of its own.

Or else you can play with others, and count on no one picking up on it. I've been complimented for putting a "feminist twist" on fairy tales by -- having the heroine rescue the hero.

Yeah.

You know, reading The Blue Fairy Book would cure that misperception.
Tags: bittercon, fairy tales, fairy tales (retelling), writing
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