Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘fairy tales’

uprooted_cover_picture

Most authors want discussion and buzz to swirl around their books upon release. Understandably so, attention leads to book sales and reaching a larger audience, but the flip side for readers is that the hype around a book can negatively impact the reading experience. As much as I like to think I give each book a chance based on its merits, there are undeniable instances where the articles, reviews, tweets and forum posts I see about a book have changed the way I approach the text. Hype played a big part in my making me dislike Naomi Novik’s Uprooted (2015) more than I probably would have otherwise. (more…)

Read Full Post »

kaguya_7-0

This is going to be a looser post than I usually write on this blog, mostly because I’ve had a hard time concentrating on any one thing so far this year. Call it a combination of seasonal affective disorder and ennui. What I have been doing is watching a lot of animated films and, of course, reading, and I’ve been mixing the subject matter from both in my brain a lot lately.

These thoughts were precipitated by reading Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber for the first time, a very short collection of stories that since its publication in 1979 has gauged a deep and lasting mark in fantasy, particularly the glut of fairy tale retellings of the 90s that still haven’t quite withered away. Even I’m in an anthology of retellings, but Carter was also playing into a cultural moment that had its earlier rumblings in Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy stories” and other authors slowly dredging up folk and fairy tale material out of children’s books to repackage for an adult audience. We can’t pin the fairy tale resurgence in fantasy solely on people imitating Carter, though she certainly had and still has her share of slavish imitators who try to mimic her baroque, layered prose and fall flat on their faces doing it. The stories in The Bloody Chamber range further, giving characters and atmospheres that, despite all these stories taking place in a vague 18th to early 20th century setting, are most commonly found in urban fantasy and paranormal romance. The trappings pass on, the core of why these stories work largely remain untouched. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Terri Windling was the best editor of the 90s; while she was in the business it seemed everything she touched turned to gold. I’m especially fond of the Adult Fairy Tales series she edited for Tor Books, which gave us novels like Charles de Lint’s Jack the Giant Killer and Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose. Her involvement seemed to bring out the best in writers. Snow White, Blood Red (1993) is the best multi-author anthology I’ve yet read; unsurprisingly, Terri Windling was involved. Together with Ellen Datlow, she assembled a group of stories that took direct inspiration from Angela Carter’s famous fairy tale retellings in The Bloody Chamber. Twenty-one adult fairy tales by twenty-one different authors. All of them are a delight to read.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Suzanne Magnanini. Fairy-Tale Science: Monstrous Generation in the Tales of Straparola and Basile. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008.

Fairy-Tale Science: Monstrous Generation in the Tales of Straparola and Basile is a book about marvels. Specifically, it’s about the discourse of the marvellous in early modern Italy and the way fairy tale favola engaged with that discourse to produce “science fictions”, tales where learned theories in natural philosophy merged into a genre previously known for nonsense (9). At this point, the attention of any sf fan should be piqued—science fiction in the Renaissance? Really? The answer is, not quite. Though Zoan Straparola and Giambattista Basile’s favola engaged with then-current scholasticism and the New Science in similar ways as the more modern form of the wonder tale, the questions raised and issues explored were quite different both thematically and stylistically. Suzanne Magnanini situates the literary fairy tale of the Renaissance in its intellectual milieu and synthesizes a vast amount of contextual information to come to some truly fantastic conclusions.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Ruth B. Bottigheimer. Fairy Godfather: Straparola, Venice, and the Fairy Tale Tradition. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.

I first encountered Fairy Godfather: Straparola, Venice, and the Fairy Tale Tradition in a Comparative Literature course on fairy tales and folklore that I took during my last year of undergrad. While I cribbed from it for an essay, I didn’t read it from cover to cover despite the professor structuring the opening sections of the course around Ruth B. Bottigheimer’s ideas. This was mainly because Fairy Godfather was stuck in the Reserve room of Rutherford library and therefore only available for three-hour loan. Now that the more intensive work for my final Master’s paper is finished, it suddenly popped into my head to give it a look—perhaps because I combed through seventeenth-century Polish and English market literature in my research on witchcraft, and the literary fairy tale came to mind.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Slavic Fairy Tales

One reason I haven’t bought an e-reader is my fascination with the book as a physical object. That, and because I buy nearly all my books used. Each one has a story separate from what’s contained within its pages. A book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with a note from 1915 inked on the inside cover. A 1919 edition of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. My copy of Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (probably the single most important book in my life) has pencilled scribbles in the early chapters—my dad’s Polish translations of various words from back when he was learning English; he remembered the Polish translation of the novel so well he thought it would carry over. He still has his Polish copy somewhere.

I’ve kept Klechdy Domowe (Domestic Fairy Tales) on my shelf, a collection of Polish fairy tales and legends. The book was a present for my sister in 1989, though I’m the one who ended up with it. Most notable are Zbigniew Rychlicki’s handsome illustrations, which have an oddly Slavic air about them.

(more…)

Read Full Post »