Fairy Tales Are Big In Europe

Was intrigued by the idea of fairy tales for book club, so we read Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, a collection of her short stories that tweak the format by reconceiving the stories for a more modern, feminist voice.

In this way Carter takes an old weird tale called "Bluebeard", basically about a rich guy who kills his wives, and guides the reader more into the mind of the female character, while (spoiler alert) having her mother save her, as opposed to her brothers, as in the original.

Elsewhere, Beauty and the Beast receives an updated treatment in Carter's "The Courtship of Mr Lyon" and "The Tiger's Bride". The updated "Puss-in-Boots" is playful and weird. "The Werewolf" and "The Company of Wolves" feel loosely based on Little Red Riding Hood (itself a deep dive into different texts it seems). The rest seem a little more obscure or patched together . . .

Carter's writing is bigger in the UK. Some of the stories are better than others, and while the writing is good/great, there are moments that seem kind of purplish, though I think goth-y type stuff is generally susceptible in that area . . .

Reading to young kids makes you hyperaware of every aspect of stories — everything from stereotypes to language to manners to encouraging positive behaviors. Which is how I became intrigued by the old bad fairy tales, the high water point maybe the uncut original Grimm fairy tales, before they became sliced up and edited into middle-class palatability (and even then, it's not like "Hansel and Gretel" is exactly "Horton Hears a Who" . . .). At some point it seems like kids heard shit — and now they don't. (And I'm not convinced it's specific to crazy old Europeans, either.)

Posted: September 18th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Books Are The SUVs Of Writing | Tags: ,