“There is no satisfactory equivalent to the German word märchen, tales of magic and wonder such as those collected by the Brothers Grimm: Rapunzel, Hansel & Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, The Six Sans, and other such familiar stories. We call them fairy tales, although none of the above stories actually contains a creature called a ‘fairy’…”
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So begins Terri Windling’s introduction to Patricia C. Wrede’s spectacular rendition of Snow White and Rose Red. This is by far my favorite version of said fairy tale, and now that I’m revisiting my copy, I’m wondering if my love is in part because the introduction is so spectacular.
And I’m not one for introductions. If the first page of a book starts with "Introduction" enlarged and bolded across the top, I’m more likely to put it down in favor of doing a load of laundry instead.
And I’m not one for doing laundry. Ask Hubs…or on second thought, don’t.
Terri Windling is the creator and editor of the Fairy Tales series, so she writes this intro to give background on fairy tales in general. Some of her points:
- Fairy tales were originally created for adult audiences, and were very popular, used widely as fodder for many well-known authors' and poets' work. Both the aristocracy and people of the masses loved them (you probably already knew this?).
- It wasn't until the Age of Enlightenment, when more emphasis was placed on rational and scientific ways of thinking, that literary fantasy went out of fashion. “[Fairy tales] came to be seen as fit only for children, relegated to the nursery…” (maybe you didn’t know this?).
- A lot of the tales date back thousands of years, back to when stories were oral rather than written, and much of the magic I imagine was in the face-to-face telling; the leaning into each other, waiting breathlessly for what’s going to happen next; the flicker and smell, the warmth, of fire as people drink and eat and gather around the hearth (I kind of knew this, though in truth, I hadn’t thought about how important it was).
- Yet much of the magic, the heroism, and the courtly romance has been lost in watered-down versions of the stories. Some have been altered so much that the originals have been pretty much forgotten. Do we all know that the little mermaid really dies at the end? Something having to do with sea foam…?
Which is one of the reasons I brought Snow White and Rose Red to the forefront again. Most people I know don’t recall this fairy tale. I didn’t, when I first found Patricia’s version. I was at that tenuous age somewhere around 14 or 15, where I was sure I knew pretty much everything there was to know, and yet I could be shaken off my foundations with one ungracious “puuff” from teacher, friend, or foe.
This fairy tale shook my foundations, but in a good way. “I thought I knew all the fairy tales," I said to myself, then, being a voracious reader. "There’s more?”
Tonight, with a sigh that releases some of the desperation I didn’t know was there, I smile a little. "I thought I knew it all," I chuckle to myself, now, trying everyday to be a voracious live-er. "But thankfully there’s always more."
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Huge thanks to DR and Sleepy Joe, who boldly took up my little challenge from last week’s Fairy Tale Friday. In doing so you did multiple things that are very meaningful to me –
You remembered. You took some time out of your lives to think about and then create something beautiful and unique, something no one else could have created. Time is hard to come by, these days. Beauty, uniqueness too. I can’t find these stories anywhere else but on your blogs? Truly awesome.
Then you shared your stories. This is a big deal, I know, because you’re putting pieces of yourselves out there for others to read, draw judgments about, opening yourselves to potential ridicule. But you’re also opening yourselves to the idea of community, that you’re part of something bigger, and that you’re words and your humanity are an integral ingredient of what makes up the whole.
By sharing you invite me, and other readers, to your virtual hearth. I’m bringing my own beverage, I hope you've got something yummy too? We may be thousands of miles apart, but tonight the flicker of the screen lights up my face, I’m leaning in, and as I go through your variations of the Snow White and Rose Red story, I can tell that somehow you've tapped into the magic that was there before.
Maybe the originals aren't entirely lost, rather locked away somewhere inside ourselves? What do you think?
Here are their links:
Total pages logged as of today: 183 but visit my Deadline Updates page for more info
Moment of Magic today:
Refer to all of the above. I'm basking in it all tonight.