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Bowdlerized fairy tales

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  • Steve Hayes
    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/09/21/fear_of_fairy_tale s/?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed6 First quarter: Fear of fairy tales The glossy,
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 23, 2008
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      http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/09/21/fear_of_fairy_tale
      s/?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed6

      First quarter:

      Fear of fairy tales
      The glossy, sanitized new versions of fairy tales leave out what
      matters: the scary parts
      By Joanna Weiss
      September 21, 2008

      Probably because she'd expressed a firm interest in fairy wings and
      dresses made of tulle, my 3-year-old daughter got a plastic Rapunzel
      playset last year as a gift. It was a collection of bedroom furniture
      and three small dolls: a girl with a retractable braid, a smiling
      prince, and another girl, apparently a playmate. And it came with a
      small companion book, "Rapunzel's Tower Room," which began, "At the
      edge of a forest village, there was a tower owned by a kind witch."

      The book went on to spin the tale of a charmed girl named Rapunzel,
      who spent her days in the tower sewing dresses with a friend. She
      loved when the witch came to visit and teach songs, including one that
      made Rapunzel's hair grow longer. But tension arrived: One day,
      Rapunzel looked out the window and saw a fair in the village nearby.
      She wanted to go, but the witch was off tending to her garden and
      couldn't let her out. Fortunately, a prince riding by in his carriage
      called up to her, "Rapunzel! Why aren't you at the fair?"

      This was not the fairy tale I vaguely recalled from my childhood - the
      one with the mother who gives up her child, the vindictive witch, the
      powerless girl trapped high above the ground. This new version was
      sanitary and safe in a way that modern parents will easily recognize.
      In an age when some families ban the word "killed" or come up with
      creative euphemisms to mask the death of goldfish, it's not hard to
      see why a toy company would reduce Rapunzel's story to its prettiest
      parts. Real life, presumably, packs enough trauma for children to
      think about later.

      Yet something important is lost when a child's introduction to fairy
      tales comes in such whitewashed form. It's not just Rapunzel: In toys,
      movies, and books, the old fairy tales are being systematically
      stripped of their darker complexities. Rapunzel has become a
      lobotomized girl in a pleasant tower playroom; Cinderella is another
      pretty lady in a ball gown, like some model on "Project Runway."

      "Fairy tale" may be our shorthand for castles and happy endings, but
      these classic stories have villains, too - nefarious witches,
      bloodthirsty wolves, stepmothers up to no good. And scholars have come
      to see the stories' dark elements as the source of their power, not to
      mention their persistence over the centuries. Rich in allegory,
      endlessly adaptable, fairy tales emerged as a framework for talking
      about social issues. When we remove the difficult parts - and
      effectively do away with the stories themselves - we're losing a
      surprisingly useful common language.

      "There's a very important reason why these tales stick," says Jack
      Zipes, a German professor and folklorist at the University of
      Minnesota, who has written such books as "Fairy Tales and the Art of
      Subversion" and "Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales, Children, and the
      Culture Industry." "It's because they raise questions that we have not
      resolved."

      (end of excerpt)

      --
      Steve Hayes
      E-mail: shayes@...
      Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/litmain.htm
      http://methodius.blogspot.com
    • Yvonne Aburrow
      ... http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/09/21/fear_of_fairy_tale ... Eeuuww, they can t do that to Rapunzel, that s utterly vapid. The
      Message 2 of 4 , Sep 24, 2008
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        --- In eldil@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Hayes" <hayesstw@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/09/21/fear_of_fairy_tale
        > s/?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed6
        >
        > First quarter:
        >
        > Fear of fairy tales
        > The glossy, sanitized new versions of fairy tales leave out what
        > matters: the scary parts
        > By Joanna Weiss
        > September 21, 2008
        <snip>

        Eeuuww, they can't do that to Rapunzel, that's utterly vapid.

        The witch character has to be a threshold guardian or Rapunzel can't
        come into her power.

        Interestingly Cinderella (the Perrault version) is a bowdlerized
        version of Aschenputtel (brothers Grimm version), which has much
        darker and earthier elements. And Bowdler was the bloke who took the
        "rude bits" out of Shakespeare.

        I am sure that Clarissa Pinkola-Estes (author of the excellent "Women
        Who Run with the Wolves") would have a thing or two to say about this
        ... what to call it ... emasculation? evisceration? ... of Rapunzel.

        Yvonne
      • charles_wms_soc
        Just to say that if others have difficulties with the Taliessin poems, the C.W.Society s small book of, so to speak, supplements to Lewis commentary, edited
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 25, 2008
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          Just to say that if others have difficulties with the Taliessin poems,
          the C.W.Society's small book of, so to speak, supplements to Lewis'
          commentary, edited by Anne Ridler, will (we hope) be reprinted by
          Apocryphile in a few months' time.
          Richard Sturch---
        • Steve Hayes
          ... Thanks very much for that... I ve just read them casually before, but find that I see much more in them when reading Lewis s commentaries. Also, the first
          Message 4 of 4 , Sep 25, 2008
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            On 25 Sep 2008 at 13:56, charles_wms_soc wrote:

            > Just to say that if others have difficulties with the Taliessin poems,
            > the C.W.Society's small book of, so to speak, supplements to Lewis'
            > commentary, edited by Anne Ridler, will (we hope) be reprinted by
            > Apocryphile in a few months' time.

            Thanks very much for that... I've just read them casually before, but find
            that I see much more in them when reading Lewis's commentaries.

            Also, the first time i read them, I wasn't sufficiently familiar with the
            Arthurian literature to make much sense of them. And even trying to read the
            Arthurian literature -- Malory, Tennyson etc just confused me.

            Eventually I read through a couple of retellings, to try to set the scene as
            it were, and the Mabinogion, and a few other things. It's not just Williams
            and Lewis but so much other literature that is linked to to it or has
            allusions to it that I was quite unaware of when I first read their novels.

            I could understand the references to Merlin in "That hideous strength", and
            apprecialed the way Lewis handled the encounter between modern and pre-modern
            man, as he did with sinful and sinless creatures in "Out of the silent
            planet", but the reference to Mr Fisher-King passed right over my head.

            It made me aware that much of English literature cannot really bwe understood
            without being familiar with

            1. The matter of Britain
            2. The Bible
            3. Shakespeare.

            And the Inklings themselves seem to have been pretty familiar with all three.



            --
            Steve Hayes
            E-mail: shayes@...
            Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/stevesig.htm
            http://people.tribe.net/hayesstw
            Blog: http://methodius.blogspot.com
            Phone: 083-342-3563 or 012-333-6727
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