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Will Current Politics Affect the State of Fairy Tales?

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message 1: by Ronyell (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 95 comments I was wondering about would the current politics of today's world affect the state of the older fairy tales? For example, there were cases where certain older fairy tales like "Sleeping Beauty" were criticized for being "sexist" for today's audience and how some fairy tales were banned from libraries because they depicted magic in every story. Also, let's say that a country does not get along with another country, but the fairy tales that the other country reads about are from the same country that they have disagreements with. Would a hatred of one country prevent the fairy tales from that country from reaching around the world?


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I think world politics and changing times will definitely affect the writing and retelling of fairy tales. I don't think anything can stop them being retold though, they are more powerful than that.

Interestingly enough, the early versions of some of the tales, now held to being sexist, are viewed outside of their cultural times, and therefore misread (see my favourite fairy tale writers: Les Contes des Fees). Also the fairy tales (or wonder tales) have been rewritten (the Brothers Grimm an obvious example) and altered throughout the centuries, heightening some aspects and toning down others.


message 3: by Ronyell (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 95 comments I agree with both of you Abigail and Georgina that fairy tales will continue being retold since they are really popular with the audience and I would just see them really being retold in a more modern way than just be wiped out of existence because of how politics change in the world.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, and I agree, Abigail, about fantasy being the new incarnation of the wondertale or fairy tale. I find it interesting too, that during the Industrial Revolution, the Romantic Art movement began, and the Romantic poets and Gothic writers also flourished. It was a direct reaction to what was seen as a loss of magic, beauty and emotion in the industrialised world. Now we are seeing another resurgence of the magical and supernatural worlds, I think for the same reasons.

If Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was a statement about the Industrialised world (and also a result of her nightmares during her miscarriage) are zombies and vampires an expression of a deeper, similar feeling in our society?

I think you are right, Ronyell, they will be retold in a more modern way. I was delighted to find the collections of my favourite folklorist, Joseph Jacobs, in ebook form.

I think one thing that is very different, is that fairy tales are not passed on orally anymore (at least not as much). How often do we sit and tell each other stories? I know Disney has incorporated many of the old tales, but not to my satisfaction. I'm not anti Disney though, any retelling is good, to my mind, children can then investigate the origins further, as they grow up.


message 5: by Ronyell (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 95 comments Georgina wrote: "Yes, and I agree, Abigail, about fantasy being the new incarnation of the wondertale or fairy tale. I find it interesting too, that during the Industrial Revolution, the Romantic Art movement bega..."

I agree that even though Disney is trying to bring back the older tales, it's still not the same as just telling your children about the fairy tales orally.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

It's not. Disney sanitises them.

As a child I loved the brothers Grimm, now I'm not as impressed. I was a morbid child, the beautifully imagery and gothically gruesome deaths in the Grimm's versions always fascinated me. Now I know that they greatly altered the tales, firstly by their choice of what stories they included, and also how they recorded them, secondly by rewriting the stories after one of them (can't remember which one) converted to Christianity. Out went any sexual references, up went the violence.

Now Disney has made them saccharine sweet. Watching the original Disney Cinderella, is painful: the high pitched warbling singing, the spaced out Cinderella, I far prefer the Shrek version.

I'm enjoying new versions that I'm coming across though. I added this one the other day:
Cinder

"Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness..."

No I am not spamming. No I do not know the author. I'm putting it here to illustrate my point: a cyborg Cinderella. I love the idea. I'll be reading it as soon as possible so I'll let you know what I think of it. I'm wondering what will be changed in the tale, other than setting and imagery. What part of the story will be altered to reflect our era? I also find it interesting that it is set in Beijing, and according to Marina Warner, the story of Cinderella may have originated in China.


message 7: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Regarding the cyber updates, wasn't Spielberg's A.I. just Pinoccio?


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, you're right Old-Barbarossa. Although I have to admit I find Speilberg worse than Disney.

Abigail can we start a folder where we can set up a thread for each of the most common fairy tales: Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel etc? People could add links to either books or articles or just chat about meanings, interpretations etc.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Fantastic! Yes, Beastly Brides/Bridegrooms etc sounds great. :)


message 10: by Ronyell (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 95 comments Abigail wrote: "Georgina wrote: "Abigail can we start a folder where we can set up a thread for each of the most common fairy tales: Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel etc?..."

A folder devoted to tale-ty..."


That's great Abigail! I'll check it out!


message 11: by Freya (new)

Freya (flamecat) Georgina wrote: "If Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was a statement about the Industrialised world (and also a result of her nightmares during her miscarriage) are zombies and vampires an expression of a deeper, similar feeling in our society?..."

I believe I read in the news ages ago that at least one university here in England they offer a module on the subject of zombies, about how the youth of today are expressing their dissatisfaction with the way society is today i.e. making us all zombie-like. However I believe that when asked, "the youth" (massive generalisation) said that was not the case at all.

I believe that it is perhaps a mix of all things - an expression (either concious or unconscious) of how we view modern life and culture, where we see it heading in the future, or an expression of the fear we perceive the growing number of anti-biotic resistant illnesses out there etc. But equally it is perhaps just the cult thing of today, what is popular - we've had ghosts, faeries, vampires and werewolves. Zombies are perhaps the natural progression of topics to be covered in detail?

Apologies if I've waffled! Scrolling up it seems a lot of text!


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Zombies are interesting. It would be a fascinating subject to do a thesis on, bet there are people out there doing it already.

I think they are another form of the bogeyman. Bogeymen are used to control children's behaviour, through fear. I think the scissor man in Der Struwwelpeter is a classic example. (I hated it as a child.) There always seems to be a moral there somewhere too, (although I hardly think thumb sucking a sin).

In a post apocalyptic setting zombies are what happens when we loose civilisation and its social constraints, morals, etc. We become baseless creatures that feed upon each other. I think maybe Zombies are extra interesting at the moment as we look at the future of human kind. I think everyone shares a worry that it might be grim. Let's face it in The Road, people didn't have to turn into zombies to act like them, the conditions drove people to eat one another.

It's interesting too, that of all the supernatural creatures we have been fascinated by, Zombies are the most unromantic. And yes, what comes next?


message 13: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 65 comments Georgina wrote: "Zombies are interesting. It would be a fascinating subject to do a thesis on, bet there are people out there doing it already.

I think they are another form of the bogeyman. Bogeymen are used to ..."


When my grandmother read Der Struwwelpeter to me as a child, the story of little Pauline and her matches scared me so much that I did not dare try matches until I was something like in my 20s (and I really did think that the scissor man would come and cut off my brother's thumbs).


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

A sad little pile of ashes, and the cats weep tears for her. Der Struwwelpeter is a scary book! I was frightened for my sister as she sucked her thumbs. I was the day dreamer, head in the clouds, who falls in the water...

Although I hated Der Struwwelpeter, German children stories gave me my love of dark gothic tales.


message 15: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 65 comments Georgina wrote: "A sad little pile of ashes, and the cats weep tears for her. Der Struwwelpeter is a scary book! I was frightened for my sister as she sucked her thumbs. I was the day dreamer, head in the clouds, w..."

I really embarrassed my parents (I think I was around five or six at the time) when I asked a family acquaintance who had recently remarried if his new wife would be an evil stepmother (my mother had just read Snow White and other assorted Grimms' fairy tales to me, so I was curious, lol). But you know, I was never frightened of the Grimms' fairy tales I was read because they were not illustrated; Der Struwwelpeter was frightening to me not so much because of the words, but because of the illustrations.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

The Grimm's tales were always favourites, the darker the better, but you are right, Der Struwwelpeter was scarier. In many of the Grimm's stories, children are the victims and then the heroes of the stories. Der Struwwelpeter's villains are children, and the 'sins' for which they receive 'due' punishment are simple childhood foibles like thumb-sucking, daydreaming, fickle eating, playing with matches.

I loved Max und Moritz: Eine Bubengeschichte in sieben Streichen though :D


message 17: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 65 comments Georgina wrote: "The Grimm's tales were always favourites, the darker the better, but you are right, Der Struwwelpeter was scarier. In many of the Grimm's stories, children are the victims and then the heroes of th..."

Have you read some of the other works of Wilhelm Busch? "Die fromme Helene" is both hilarious and thought provoking (and I also like many of his shorter little stories). Actually, I think I like them better than "Max und Moritz" (Hans Huckebein, der Unglücksrabe, is a personal favourite).

I was a reading an interesting article about "der Struwwelpeter" in Klassiker der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur (worthwhile getting, although hard to find and sometimes ridiculously expensive for a paperback, it has some wonderfully informative articles) which claims that Heinrich Hoffmann actually meant "der Struwwelpeter" to be a parody of 19th century German pedogogy, so the "morals" preached should be taken with a major grain of salt (while I can appreciate where the author of the article is coming from, I am not so sure one can say that the story is only a parody, I think it has some elements of parody but that there was still a morality to be taught).


message 18: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 65 comments Abigail wrote: "Freya wrote: "But equally it is perhaps just the cult thing of today, what is popular - we've had ghosts, faeries, vampires and werewolves. Zombies are perhaps the natural progression of topics to ..."

Thanks Abigail, more books to add to my list :-)


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks, Abigail, added, and request sent to amazon for a kindle version. So frustrating when I can't get ebook editions!

Yes, I have 'read' Die fromme Helene, Hans Huckebein, der Unglücksrabe: Fipps der Affe : Plisch und Plum. My mother has lovely old copies that I spent enormous amounts of time reading. Of course I skipped any words I had difficulties with, but the pictures told the stories beautifully anyway. :)

Interesting about Hoffmann and Der Struwwelpeter meant as a parody. I certainly never felt it was as a child, but given his background and views, it could be true.


message 20: by Manybooks (last edited Aug 16, 2012 06:12AM) (new)

Manybooks | 65 comments Georgina wrote: "Thanks, Abigail, added, and request sent to amazon for a kindle version. So frustrating when I can't get ebook editions!

Yes, I have 'read' Die fromme Helene, Hans Huckebein, der Unglücksrabe: Fi..."


I did not find the stories a parody or humorous either, as a child (I wonder how I would feel about them today). But looking especially at the illustrations (as well as the stories themselves), they certainly are outrageous and quite over-the-top.


message 21: by Freya (new)

Freya (flamecat) "I've often wondered if the zombie fascination isn't from our cultures move away from traditional/religious beliefs about the afterlife. More and more we question the existence of 'souls' or 'spirits'. Zombies were once people, but now they're just animated bodies, driven by the most basic instinct (hunger). Maybe they represent the fear that being "human" doesn't really mean anything. That deep down we're all just complex animals driven by instincts. Maybe zombies are what we fear we really are. "

Beth, that is another really interesting take on the current fascination there is with zombies - thank you :) that has given me some ponder time!


message 22: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 09, 2012 03:59PM) (new)

They read the tales out of context, and then apply current cultural and socials mores.

I've been reading Marina Warner on the French women writers of the Cabinet of the Fairies. The tales where true love wins and the woman gets to marry the man of her dreams, were a comment on the enforced marriages of the time. But when the tales finally reached Disney, via so many retellings, they were made saccharine sweet.

Beth said: In a few hundred years, when folklorists are studying OUR stories and what they meant, they'll be looking (as we do now) at the ones which embody something of our own fears and morals. If someone retells/reinterprets an old story and it truly represents something of our collective ideas, truly captures something psychological which relates to all of us, then it becomes valuable to us all over again. If they do like so many, simply re-vamp the surface level stuff in an attempt to SELL it again, I think in time it will be forgotten."

Great passage. Spot on I think.

Also loved your ideas on Zombies! My daughter reminded me the other day of their Voodoo roots. (The Omega Man zombie looms in my mind) But the voodoo origins also ties in well with your ideas, Beth.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, the roots of Voodoo lie in Africa, not sure which regions or countries though. It's a pretty interesting faith or religion, from what little I've read.

My stance on Disney, or whatever retellings happen along the way, is that it's better that the tales are told, than not at all. I love animation too. I agree the Disney studio has created some wonderful animations.


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