From Happy 200th, Snow White! Fairy tales do one thing. But they can do it in several different ways. by Stefany Anne Golberg:
In 1810, the Grimm Brothers first wrote down the story of Snow White, as told to them by some anonymous German folks. I’ve read this story countless times since discovering it in my adolescence. Even so, it’s the Disney version, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, that is the definitive Snow White story for me, though I hadn’t seen it since I was a child. The look of Snow White — her blue-and-red capped sleeves, her cherry-colored Clara Bow lips — and the seven dwarfs with their funny names, are all from Disney’s telling. This Snow White is so palpable for me, and for most Americans, that one might believe Snow White an American invention.The article is much longer and mostly discusses Disney and Grimms since those are the most familiar versions of the tale to casual fairy tale readers. The tale is much older than 200 years, of course. And there are many versions to the tale, 41 of which are in my Sleeping Beauties: Sleeping Beauty and Snow White Tales From Around the World where you can read much more about the tale.
How is it that fairy tales can be so far removed in content from our daily experience, and yet have so much power over it? We sing fairy tale songs and our sleep is dappled with fairy tale leitmotifs. We tell fairy tales to our children. Why? To improve them? To delight them? To terrorize them? To learn the consequences of good and evil? As those who have read them can confirm, the stories recorded by the Brothers Grimm (Snow White included) are horrifying and grisly. They are not at all what we mean today by “child-friendly.” Do you remember how, in the original Cinderella, the stepsisters tried to force the glass slipper to fit them by slicing off parts of their feet?
Thanks Christine for the link!