Saturday, November 20, 2010

Marvelous Geometry: Narrative and Metafiction in Modern Fairy Tale by Jessica Tiffin

Marvelous Geometry: Narrative and Metafiction in Modern Fairy Tale (Fairy-Tale Studies)

Marvelous Geometry: Narrative and Metafiction in Modern Fairy Tale (Fairy-Tale Studies) by Jessica Tiffin is today's offering in this week's salute to Wayne State University Press's Fairy Tale series.

Product description from the publisher:

In Marvelous Geometry Jessica Tiffin argues that within twentieth- and twenty-first-century Western literature there exists a diverse body of fairy-tale texts that display a common thread of metafictional self-awareness. The narrative pattern of these texts is self-conscious, overtly structured, variously fantastical, and, Tiffin argues, easily recognized and interpreted by modern audiences. In this broadly comparative study she explores contemporary fairy-tale fictions found in modern literature and live-action and animated film and television to explore fairy tale’s ability to endlessly reinvent itself and the cultural implications of its continued relevance.

Tiffin’s skilled analysis draws on the critical fields of postmodernism, narratological analysis, stucturalism, feminism, and performativity, without relying solely on any one perspective. She considers important fairy-tale retellings such as the feminist revisions of Angela Carter, the postmodern narratives of A. S. Byatt, as well as fairy tales written for children by James Thurber. She also investigates both popular and high-art films, contrasting Cocteau and Neil Jordan to Hollywood romances and Disney, and analyzes the differences between animated features and live-action productions. Finally, Tiffin uses a case study of the recent successful Shrek films to situate the fairy tale in the twenty-first century as an endlessly adaptable folk narrative that self-consciously and affectionately reflects generic structures and significant cultural assumptions.

Marvelous Geometry covers a wide range of familiar and unfamiliar primary texts from a novel and fruitful perspective. Tiffin’s focus on the metafictional nature of the fairy tale turns readers’ attention to the genre’s narrative structure and aesthetic qualities without ever losing sight of the fairy tale’s sociocultural impact as powerful marvelous narrative. Scholars of literary and fairy-tale studies will enjoy Tiffin’s expansive analysis.
And here is the Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments vii
1. Telling Theoretical Tales 1
2. Nice and Neat and Formal: James Thurber 31
3. The Bloodied Text: Angela Carter 65
4. Caught in a Story: A. S. Byatt 101
5. Structured Sword and Sorcery: The Popular Fairy Tales of Lee, Pratchett, and Tepper 131
6. Magical Illusion: Fairy-Tale Film 179
7. “Happily Ever After”: Fairy Tale as Popular Parody 219
Bibliography 235
Index 249

Overall another strong entry in the small library of modern fairy tale interpretation analysis. Chapters 5 and 7 were the most interesting to me.  It was nice to have Tanith Lee, Terry Pratchett and Sherri Tepper discussed since they are more often neglected in comparison to Carter and Byatt, the literary establishment hard hitters.  Chapter 6 offers a lot of Disney discussion but doesn't depend solely on that studio either.  Chapter 7 is short and is Shrek heavy with Happily N'Ever After, Enchanted and Hoodwinked thrown into the mix. so those wanting academic discussion of Shrek should look here, too.

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