This is the 31st and final day of Women in Folklore Month here on the SurLaLune Blog. I have many more names I could write about, but I will save them for another time. I've left out some favorites, but also tried to offer some expected and unexpected names.
Today I'm dedicating this post to all of the women (and we'll include the men, too!) who have shared and taught and perhaps just loved fairy tales. Whether they are parents or other family members who read fairy tales to their children or teachers who taught in the classroom or librarians who recommended a book, there are many who have encouraged the reading and perpetuity of folklore and fairy tales. Then there are the other writers, performers, artists, etc. so many I have not recognized this month.
Many women have been important in my personal life, from my grandmother who hunted down a copy of Beauty and the Beast for me as a child--to parents who read to me and encouraged my reading--to librarians and teachers who encouraged my interests and reading experiences, too.
As a teen, my mother was a returning student, finishing her own degree by taking a few classes each semester. One of those semesters she took a Children's Literature course in the English Department which focused on fairy tales. She decided to have a "take your daughter to work day" and brought me to her classes and then arranged for me to meet the professor, Margaret Ordoubadian. Margaret sat with me in her office for a while and talked fairy tales, introduced me to Angela Carter's work and showed me through action as much as words that my interests were not foolish or childish.
Roughly five years later I returned to the same university to finish my degree with my junior and senior years. Margaret became my mentor--she remembered me!--as I committed myself to an English degree after leaving Physics behind. (Once upon a time, I was going to be an astonomer.) I thrived and grew, finding many professors willing to accommodate my interests. I even ended up taking Margaret's class myself. Then came grad school, a late change from a literature pursuit to information and library science, a decision I've never regretted and where I also pursued my interests with gusto. Few tried to squash me, most supported or at least let me be. I'm thankful for that.
And that is where SurLaLune came from, from years of support, teaching and learning by many women and men. So thank you to all of them, most who will never have a name on a book cover or be easily recognized, but I know who they are and I'm thankful their lives have touched mine. I've learned from so many people I will never meet or have only met a handful of times, great names and influences, but I have been equally touched by those who have nurtured and sustained on a personal basis. Both have been equally important and they are who I honor today.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
This is the 31st and final day of Women in Folklore Month here on the SurLaLune Blog. I have many more names I could write about, but I will save them for another time. I've left out some favorites, but also tried to offer some expected and unexpected names.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Marie de France is our focus today.
Marie de France ("Mary of France") was a poet evidently born in France and living in England during the late 12th century. Virtually nothing is known of her early life, though she wrote a form of Anglo-Norman. She also translated some Latin literature and produced an influential version of Aesop's Fables. Marie de France was one of the best Old-French poets of the twelfth century. She identifies herself only as Marie who originated in France. Nothing else definite is known about her.
From The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales:
The first known European woman writer to compose vernacular narrative poetry, Marie was best known for her Aesop-based Fables and her twelve widely translated Lais (c. 1160-1215). Short verse romances, the Lais are sophisticated retellings of traditional Breton oral lais.
And in case you were wondering, "a Breton lai (or lay) short is a rhymed romance supposedly practiced by Breton storytellers; elements of the supernatural, chivalry, influence of classical and Celtic mythology (land of faerie)." (From Marie de France page.)
The lais are interesting and one, the Lay of Eliduc, is distantly related to Snow White. You can read one translation of the lais at French Mediaeval Romances from the Lays of Marie de France at Project Gutenberg.
And here's an excerpt from my article about Snow White that appeared in Faerie Magazine last fall and will appear again in my upcoming collection of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty tales:
Another interesting variant [of Snow White], Gold-Tree and Silver-Tree, comes from Scotland. In this tale, the mother seeks to kill her beautiful daughter. The father deceives his wife and sends his daughter to another king to be married. Despite these precautions, the mother murders her but her devoted husband refuses to bury her. Eventually he marries again and his second wife revives the first wife. She offers to leave but the king chooses to keep both wives who become friends. The second wife later kills the wicked mother during another murder attempt. Then the king and his two wives live happily ever after together. Since polygamy wasn’t common in Scottish history, scholars speculate that the tale traveled there from a country in which the practice was more accepted.
This Scottish tale bears a strong resemblance to The Lay of Eliduc by Marie de France first recorded in the late 12th century. The lay is a Christianized version of the story with Eliduc as the king. In this version he doesn’t keep both wives. His first wife enters a nunnery instead of living in a plural marriage. Eventually Eliduc and his beloved wife enter into holy orders, too. At first reading, the lay appears unrelated to the version of the tale that is so well-loved today, but its relationship to the less popular variants is obvious upon closer inspection.
To learn more about Marie de France and her works, visit the International Marie de France Society.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Where do I even start? Jane Yolen "has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century." And with hundreds of books to her name over a long career, it's impossible to highlight them all here. These days she is perhaps best known for her bestselling series starting with How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? but Jane has been actively working with folklore and fairy tales throughout her diverse writing career. According to her website, she has 299 titles currently to her name with 189 in print.
From her website:
She is also a poet, a teacher of writing and literature, and a reviewer of children’s literature. She has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century.
Jane Yolen’s books and stories have won the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award among many others.
Briar Rose is one of my sentimental favorites for it is how I discovered Jane's work. I wasn't familiar with her until college when I attended a conference she spoke at. She read from her manuscript for Briar Rose which was not yet published. This was before preorders on Amazon (the joy of my life these days) and I waited and hunted for the book for several months after that. If you are interested in Sleeping Beauty and/or the Holocaust, this is a wonderful novel, short but moving.
One of my favorite titles is Touch Magic. I highly recommend it if you are at all interested in children's literature, fantasy and fairy tales. Here's the Library Journal review:
This revision of a classic collection of historical and analytical essays explores the use of fantasy and fairytales in children's literature. The compilation of 16 perceptive essays includes six new entries and updates others from the original 1981 publication. Yolen, winner of the National Book Award and the Caldecott Medal, among other honors, is a renowned storyteller and author of more than 200 books for children and adults. Authoritative, eloquent, and fetching, her observations focus on traditional tales that have passed down through generations and been altered in the process. Folklore and fantasy have, she asserts, endured as basic learning tools to introduce young readers to the world around them, and the stories are a uniquely appropriate guide to day-to-day realities and culture. The definition and impact of these stories is couched in the wonder of fantasy and themes essential to today's young readers. As Yolen poetically observes, "To do without tales and stories and books is to lose humanity's past, is to have no star map for the future." This book will be prized by teachers, authors, students, and all readers who value the use of folklore, mythology, and the familiar stories of youth. A pleasure to read; highly recommended.
Sleeping Ugly is quite simply fun. Jane likes to twist fairy tales around just as much as the rest of us. Sleeping Ugly is one of her earlier titles, still in print and still entertaining young readers with its take on the well-known tale.
Fairy Tale Feasts is a recipe book for the culinary and fairy tale minded. Publisher's description:
From the earliest days of stories, when hunters told of their exploits around the campfire, to the era of kings in castles listening to the storyteller at the royal feast, to the time of TV dinners, stories and eating have been close companions. So it is not unusual that folk stories are often about food: Jack's milk cow traded for beans, Snow White given a poisoned apple, Hansel and Gretel lured by the gingerbread house.
Exquisitely illustrated by Philippe Beha, Fairy Tale Feasts is more than collection of stories and recipes. In it, Caldecott-winning author Jane Yolen and her daughter, Heidi Stemple, imagine their readers as co-conspirators, cooks, and tellers of tales themselves.
Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls and Mightier Than the Sword: World Folktales for Strong Boys: These two companion books provide great stories with strong women as well as men who don't require violence to solve their problems.
(This post is getting much longer than I intended. I have such a hard time picking just a few titles to highlight!)
Gray Heroes: Elder Tales from Around the World
My own review that I wrote 10 years ago this week (wow!): "Fairy tales and folk tales are for all ages and about all ages. The amazing Jane Yolen edited this collection of tales that are often overlooked or forgotten. The tales, as the title implies, focus on older characters instead of the younger ones we often read about in Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Yolen has collected tales that will be of interest to any reader looking for a different focus when reading fairy tales and folklore. The multicultural sources emphasize the presence of elder characters around the world. This book would be particularly great as a gift to a parent, grandparent or other person who first read you a fairy tale as a child."
Mirror, Mirror: Forty Folk Tales for Mothers and Daughters to Share is intended more for older daughters and their mothers (not the preschool or elementary school set). Here's the publisher's description:
In this magical collection, an award-winning author and folklorist teams up with her daughter, selecting forty folk and fairy stories from all over the world that pay tribute to strong mothers, doting mothers, ambivalent mothers, obsessive mothers, even the quintessential wicked stepmother, and their relations-for better or worse-with their daughters. Included are enduring favorites such as Cinderella and the Greek myth of Persephone along with lesser known tales from the Sudan, Palestine, Italy, Africa, India, Russia, China, Japan, and the Americas. After each tale, Yolen and Stemple explore its place in folklore, family history, psychology, and literature. Whether read by mothers and daughters on their own or in mother/daughter reading groups, these stories are a source of connection and enchantment.
I have several of her fairy tale related books featured on SurLaLune. I am in the process of building and updating this page. My "to do" list is too long this month, but I will finish this in the next few days. We are near the end of the month and so I had to finish this post and share it while I still had a few days left to do so.
And, of course, you can visit the Official Jane Yolen website and read about all her titles as well as follow Jane's blog.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Ruth Bottigheimer is a another woman who is currently active in fairy tale scholarship with a few books and numerous articles to her credit. Her approach is somewhat different from other names currently active in the field, making for a diverse experience when you study her work.
First, here's her bio on the Stony Brook University website:
Ruth B. Bottigheimer teaches courses on European fairy tales and British children's literature and also directs independent studies in the same fields. Her work crosses disciplinary boundaries, contextualizing genres in their socio-historical cultures of origin, assessing them in terms of publishing history parameters, and utilizing linguistics in discourse analysis. Her languages of research are English, German, and French, occasionally Italian and Spanish. She maintains a continuing interest in the history of illustration and its shifting iconography, as well as in children's religious socialization through the use of edited Bible narratives. In conjunction with these areas, she has taught, and continues to teach, seminars in England, Portugal, Germany, and Austria. Her ongoing research includes the history of early British children's literature; the seventeenth-century Port-Royalist Nicolas Fontaine; and a new history of fairy tales.
Fairy Tales: A New History (Excelsior Editions) by Ruth B. Bottigheimer
From the publisher:
Where did Cinderella come from? Puss in Boots? Rapunzel? The origins of fairy tales are looked at in a new way in these highly engaging pages. Conventional wisdom holds that fairy tales originated in the oral traditions of peasants and were recorded for posterity by the Brothers Grimm during the nineteenth century. Ruth B. Bottigheimer overturns this view in a lively account of the origins of these well-loved stories. Charles Perrault created Cinderella and her fairy godmother, but no countrywoman whispered this tale into Perrault's ear. Instead, his Cinderella appeared only after he had edited it from the book of often amoral tales published by Giambattista Basile in Naples. Distinguishing fairy tales from folktales and showing the influence of the medieval romance on them, Bottigheimer documents how fairy tales originated as urban writing for urban readers and listeners. Working backward from the Grimms to the earliest known sixteenth-century fairy tales of the Italian Renaissance, Bottigheimer argues for a book-based history of fairy tales. The first new approach to fairy tale history in decades, this book answers questions about where fairy tales came from and how they spread, illuminating a narrative process long veiled by surmise and assumption.
Fairy Godfather: Straparola, Venice, and the Fairy Tale Tradition by Ruth B. Bottigheimer
From the publisher:
In the classic rags-to-riches fairy tale a penniless heroine (or hero), with some magic help, marries a royal prince (or princess) and rises to wealth. Received opinion has long been that stories like these originated among peasants, who passed them along by word of mouth from one place to another over the course of centuries. In a bold departure from conventional fairy tale scholarship, Ruth B. Bottigheimer asserts that city life and a single individual played a central role in the creation and transmission of many of these familiar tales. According to her, a provincial boy, Zoan Francesco Straparola, went to Venice to seek his fortune and found it by inventing the modern fairy tale, including the long beloved Puss in Boots, and by selling its many versions to the hopeful inhabitants of that colorful and commercially bustling city.
With innovative literary sleuthing, Bottigheimer has reconstructed the actual composition of Straparola's collection of tales. Grounding her work in social history of the Renaissance Venice, Bottigheimer has created a possible biography for Straparola, a man about whom hardly anything is known. This is the first book-length study of Straparola in any language.
I have Straparola's Facetious Nights available on SurLaLune.
Grimm's Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the Tales by Ruth B. Bottigheimer
From the publisher:
In this book -- the first in more than fifty years to treat the entire body of Grimms' Tales -- Ruth B. Bottigheimer provides a thorough analysis of the stories' content, focusing in particular on the matter of gender. By combining a sociohistorical examination of the stories with close scrutiny of the language in which they are told, Bottigheimer reveals coherent patterns of motif, plot, and image and brings new insight into the moral and social vision of the collection.
Bottigheimer has many, many articles to be read and discovered, too. A simple web and database search will produce much more of her work and theories about fairy tales.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
It's Saturday which means today is an illustrator day. I chose Margaret Evans Price for this last Saturday in March and as part of Women and Folklore Month.
Margaret Evans Price (March 20, 1888 – November 20, 1973) was a U.S. toy manufacturer. With her husband, Irving Price, and Herman Fisher, she co-founded Fisher-Price Toys in 1930. Margaret Evans was a children's book illustrator and artist. She became the first Art Director of Fisher-Price and designed push-pull toys for the opening line, based on characters from her children's books.
And from the Meibohm Fine Arts website which has an informative timeline of Price's life:
Margaret wrote and illustrated numerous childrens books, and or collaborated on many others such as: Angora Twinnies (author & illustrator, 1915), The Manger Babe (illustrator, 1916), Land Of Nod (author & illustrator, 1916), Hansel & Gretel (author & illustrator, 1916), The Night Before Christmas (illustrator, 1917), Once Upon A Time: A Book Of Old-Time Fairy Tales (author & illustrator, 1921), Enchantment Tales For Children (author & illustrator, 1926), Legends of the Seven Seas childrens book (author & illustrator, 1929), A Treasure Chest of Nursery Favorites (collaborated illustrator, 1936), Myths and Enchantment, childrens book collection of twenty Greek and Roman myths (author & illustrator, 1954-58), Mirage, a novel of the first Florida colonies (author & illustrator, 1955), to name just a few.
You don't know how excited I was when I first discovered her Furball illustrations. It's rare to find Donkeyskin variants illustrated--there are some, but much hunting was involved in finding them.
I have a Margaret Evans Price shop on CafePress as well as an illustration gallery for her on SurLaLune. She has many illustrations for each tale, so do explore the gallery to see many more. I just chose five of my very favorites for this post.
In recent years, I have seen many reprints of her illustrated books for the Barnes and Noble bargain books imprints. Most are out of print now, but available used for excellent prices. Young children respond well to her bright colors and multiple illustrations per tale. You may also still find some of them in the brick and mortar stores in the bargain book areas. I wish those had been around when I first discovered her work years ago.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Fairy tale retellings for younger readers were in a slump in the mid-1990s. Fantasy wasn't as popular a genre or heavily marketed. After all, the time was pre-Harry Potter. Then a relatively unknown author entered the scene with Ella Enchanted. I was in grad school at the time, SurLaLune was only a few months from being born actually. When I saw this book listed as a Cinderella retelling, I was intrigued but not excited. After all, it was CINDERELLA. How very predictable and rather lame, I thought.
Fortunately, I didn't let my prejudices keep me from reading the book one night. In one night, actually, with homework and other demands waiting on me the next day. Levine managed to make me enjoy Cinderella for the first time in years. That same year Drew Barrymore's Ever After came out, so it was a good year for Cinderella actually, and helped me find the interest in annotating the tale a few months later when SurLaLune became the brainstorm that wouldn't stop.
I was surprised to find Cinderella sympathetic and interesting, not the boring stereotype of the character I expected. Of course, I had read other fine versions, but this one was just fun, plain and simple. It had the right blend of many elements to make it a successful recommendation, too. I love many books that others don't like (and hate books recommended by others, too!) so it is always gratifying to find a book that is well accepted by many different readers.
So I rooted for Ella Enchanted to win the Newbery Medal, which it didn't, something I'm still bitter over for reasons I won't discuss here, but it did receive an honor medal which helped its continued publicity and popularity. (We won't mention the Disney film "adaptation" which came later. *Shudder* That movie has done more in keeping people from reading her very entertaining and clever book in my experience. I claim Ella Enchanted as one of my favorite Cinderella retellings and when I get a grimace as a reaction, I always learn their only experience is with the movie.)
Anyway, I credit Levine with some of the increased success of fairy tale novels for young adult and middle readers especially in the past decade. She has also written several other fairy tale retellings for various ages, including picture books. Ella Enchanted is still my admitted favorite, but I've had great success sharing her titles with young readers, too.
She also chose some less popular tales, such as Diamonds and Toads, to retell which pleases me no end, of course.
Levine's official site is through her publisher HarperCollins. I have a SurLaLune bookstore page for her, too, where you can read more about her fairy tale related titles.
This fall Levine will have a picture book, Betsy Red Hoodie, a follow-up to her Betsy Who Cried Wolf from a few years ago. This one is of course a take on Little Red Riding Hood with her established character of Betsy. I'll write more about it when I learn more and closer to its September release date.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
One of the more recent inheritors of the fairy tale novel tradition is Shannon Hale. Hale's first book, The Goose Girl, was released in 2003 and was a wonderfully unexpected surprise at the time. It was beautifully written and also adapted the same named lesser known fairy tale, one that wasn't as well-known to the average reader. The book started the Bayern series which didn't use any more fairy tales for direct inspiration, but continue the world she created for Goose Girl with additional characters and adventurs.
From her website:
Taking inspiration from the wonderful Robin McKinley and her first book BEAUTY, Shannon decided to write a novel from her favorite fairy tale, "The Goose Girl."
In her own words: "When I was a kid, my sisters and I spent many hours with my mom’s mammoth book of fairytales. 'Cinderella' was the initial favorite on the basis of ball gowns. (There were 3 ball gowns in this version, plus a wedding dress! Pure little girl bliss.) But despite lack of fancy gowns, 'The Goose Girl,' by the Brothers Grimm, soon moved into the lead. We were completely captivated by the story alone. Even though it was my favorite, its strangeness and brevity always left me wanting more. Why did the princess let her lady-in-waiting steal her identity? How did she learn to command the wind? And what about the prince? I thought the story fairly begged to be written into a longer work. I'm thrilled that now, some three years later, it is."
"I love fantasy. I love all those possibilities, and the cultural profundity of the tale, and the kind of book you can’t put down. I think reading fantasy, for all ages, has gained a new acceptance and popularity. I wanted the goose girl to be a book that both non-fantasy readers could pick up and not feel alienated because they didn’t know the world of the genre, and one that fantasy readers could enjoy by encountering both the familiar and the new."
A few years later, The Princess Academy received a Newbery Honor Medal, helping to solidify Hale's popularity and visibility. The Princess Academy uses fairy tale and fantasy tropes in a story about a school for princesses although no one tale provides inspiration for this novel.
Perhaps my favorite of Hale's books so far, although that's not an easy pick, is Book of a Thousand Days, a novel inspired by Maid Maleen, a maiden in the tower tale quite different from Rapunzel. At the time it was announced, I was thrilled and quickly annotated a version of it for SurLaLune since it has been on my consideration list for a while.
Once again from her website:
One night in the spring of 2003, I lay in bed reading the Grimms’ Fairy Tales. I was drafting my second book, enna burning, and wanted to seek inspiration from the old tales. That was the first time I discovered “Maid Maleen.” It’s the story of a noble lady who refuses to marry a rich king because she’s in love with a prince. In anger, her father locks his daughter and her maid in a tower for seven years.
It was a fairly interesting tale, had nice story movement and other fairy tale curiosities that caught my interest. I might have just enjoyed it and moved on, never thinking much of it again, if not for one thing—the maid. What did she do to deserve such punishment? How did she feel about being locked away? What was the relationship between her and her mistress during all that time they spent in the tower? The Brothers Grimm drop her from the story about half way through, and I got pretty irritated with them about that. I wanted to hear more about her, what happened next, and if she ever found a happily-ever-after. So I kept mulling over the tale, asking myself questions, taking notes. The more I thought, the more frustrated I felt. That’s how I know when I’ve got a story worth pursuing—if the story is satisfying, there’s nothing more for me to say, but if it frustrates me, the storyteller part of my brain starts to work to resolve it, and slowly I find myself with another novel to write.
Fall of 2005, I began writing what I then called Diary of a Lady’s Maid, telling the story in diary format from the maid’s point-of-view. While I took great inspiration from “Maid Maleen,” I deviated dramatically from the original tale in order to find the maid’s story. It was a wonderful exercise for me, to explore a new landscape, write in a new format, pull on an ancient tale but find a new one inside it. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so attached to any character as I was to Dashti the lady’s maid. This was an incredibly rewarding book to create.
Hale's most recent adventures in fairy tales have been graphic novels cowritten with her husband featuring Rapunzel and Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk fame. The books are steampunk flavored westerns with Nathan Hale's illustrations adding to the stories.
I've had the opportunity to meet Shannon and listen to her present a few times. If you ever have the chance, attend one of her author events. She is funny! She's a great writer, but she is also a skilled public speaker and does well with groups of all ages, whether discussing her adult books or young adult novels. She is candid and entertaining and inspires young readers to read and write. She's a great pick for an author visit.
Visit Shannon Hale's website to read more about all of her titles as well as her entertaining blog. I also have a SurLaLune Bookstore page for her featuring her fairy tale oriented titles and a few others.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Having scored a hit with "Alice in Wonderland," Disney and screenwriter Linda Woolverton are teaming to bring to the big screen "Maleficent," a live-action take on the evil queen in the 1959 animated classic "Sleeping Beauty."
No deal has been made with Burton, and the hiring of Woolverton is the first concrete step forward in its development.
In "Beauty," Maleficent is a tall green-skinned woman with horns who can morph into several forms, including a terrifying black and purple dragon. The character, who has appeared in many Disney books and TV shows and is a popular Halloween costume, is also the most serious character in Disney's villain stable, featuring a darkness not found in other Disney characters.
Woolverton's "Maleficent" movie would tell the classic fairy tale from the point of view of the self-proclaimed "Mistress of All Evil," offering a new take on a classic tale as she did with Lewis Carrol's "Alice."
Looks like it just might happen...and I doubt that any of the horror will come from the earlier versions of the tale which are quite horrific in their own right with rape, cannibalism and child murder as just some of the scariest bits.
I mentioned yesterday that Angela Carter was a direct inspiration behind SurLaLune's development. Another of the greatest influences is Terri Windling. I discovered as a teenager the fairy tale series she edited, especially falling in love with Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia Wrede and Tam Lin by Pamela Dean. Then Jane Yolen's Briar Rose followed a few years later. It's telling that many of the eight titles are still in print decades later. That's very rare for this subgenre.
Reading these works as well as the anthologies Windling coedited with Ellen Datlow helped me embrace my love of fairy tales and folklore as a young adult. These days their more recent collections are marketed to young adults, but are very much suitable for adults, too.
And they just include some really wonderful reading experiences...so you really should explore her work if you haven't before. (Although I'm sure you have if you are reading here.)
From The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales:
Terri Windling is an American author, artist, and editor of works inspired by fairy tales. Both her edited works and her own fiction have won World Fantasy Awards, demonstrating her importance and competence in shaping fantastic fairy-tale fiction. Windling’s work with fairy tales is sensitive and intelligent. Her introductions to edited volumes establish her familiarity with folkloristic scholarship, while her selection of topics reveals a concern for the power structures inherent to fairy tales.
Much of Windling’s editorial work has been in partnership with Ellen Datlow. Together they produced The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies (1988-2003), which some times included fairy-tale fiction. Most notably, Datlow and Windling coedited a six-volume series of fairy-tale inspired short stories for adults that included Snort’ White, Blood Red (1993), Black Thorn, White Rose (1994), Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears (1995), Black Swan, White Raven (1997), Silver Birch, Blood Moon (1999), and Black Heart, Ivory Bones (2000). Each volume contains an introduction by Datlow and Windling that celebrates the complexity, sensuality, and violence of oral tales that moralistic writers and editors of fairy tales intended for children inevitably tried to suppress. However, Datlow and Windling also have edited collections of retold fairy tales for children ages eight to twelve titled A Wolf at the Door (2000) and Swan Sister (2003). The editors’ introductions to these anthologies make the point that older fairy tales were darker but also brighter, filled with more danger but also with more interesting and more resourceful protagonists.
I could write much more, but I am trying to keep these posts shorter. Ultimately, Windling has been a great influence in fairy tale fiction publishing in the past several decades. She helped to keep the genre alive before fantasy became so popular in the post-Harry Potter and Twilight days we are living in now. She has nurtured many authors who have become well-known names, not just as fairy tale retellers. With her Endicott Studio, she essentially built a modern day salon for authors and other artists working in the interstitial arts. (I have thought of her at times as the modern day Madame D'Aulnoy, only in the best ways, of course!)
For lists of titles, see Fairy Tale Series edited by Terri Windling and Fairy Tale anthology series edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling are both available on SurLaLune. I need update the latter, but you can also see Windling's other titles on her Amazon Author Page.
You may also visit Terri's official website as well as The Endicott Studio website. Endicott is mostly lying fallow these days with great archives as Terri and Company have moved on to other projects, but there is plenty to explore and inspire there. And to see the many faces and names that have been involved with Endicott Studio, visit Endicott Then and Now.
The next title coedited by Datlow and Windling will be coming out next week. I haven't seen it yet, but plan to give it its own post soon: The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Oh, where to begin? Angela Carter is an obvious must for this month, but it is so hard to quantify and discuss her. She is the godmother of dark fairy tale retellings, not the inventor. For example, we've already read this month about Anne Sexton who did it previously. However, Carter's influence has been profound upon the genre, not the same since. Just look at the information for last year's conference: The Fairy Tale after Angela Carter, 22 - 25 April 2009.
That said, I have a love/hate relationship with her work myself. She is dark and overwhelming at times. I don't always agree with her themes although I appreciate her intent. She is not comfort or comfortable reading. She never intended to be, so that's expected.
Carter rewrote fairy tales, translated fairy tales, ate, breathed, almost lived them to borrow the cliche. They inform her work and her work has informed what has followed in fiction and story collecting as well, for her collections of fairy tales gathered from around the world were for adults, not children, as is still typical today for most anthologies published outside academic presses today.
Carter's most important influence upon me has been with her story, The Bloody Chamber from the same named collection. I read it after hunting for the collection for a few years. It was not readily available to the seventeen-year-old me when I was first recommended it by a mentor. I finally found a copy a few years later in a bookstore and snatched it up, remembering the recommendation. I am glad that the days before internet and excellent interlibrary loans kept me from reading it too early, for I was ready for it when I did. I read the stories, understood much of the textuality, was already jaded by other stuff for it to make a complete impact, but ready for The Bloody Chamber to capture my imagination. I had never paid attention to Bluebeard before then, but did I ever sit up and notice it afterwards.
And then I chose the tale to annotate for a class...and well, the rest is the history of this whole shebang, really. So, yes, Angela Carter had a critical direct impact on me even if I am not an avid rereader of her work. She is one of the many reasons SurLaLune exists, in a round about way. (That can be said for just about everyone I've written about this month, of course, but Carter's influence is more direct than many others.)
And so I debated what to write and say about Angela Carter and obviously stuck with the personal. You can read more about her around the web, from a helpful collection of links on Wikipedia to the official website devoted to her work: Angela Carter.uk, which hasn't been updated recently.
By the way, Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales is the one you want to collect both of her Virago fairy tale books: The Virago Book of Fairy Tales (1990) aka The Old Wives' Fairy Tale Book and The Second Virago Book of Fairy Tales (1992) aka Strange Things Still Sometimes Happen: Fairy Tales From Around the World (1993). Her fairy tale collections have different titles in the UK and US and have gone through a few editions, too. This is the definitive collection of tales.
Once upon a time fairy tales weren't meant just for children, and neither is Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales. This stunning collection contains lyrical tales, bloody tales and hilariously funny and ripely bawdy stories from countries all around the world- from the Arctic to Asia - and no dippy princesses or soppy fairies. Instead, we have pretty maids and old crones; crafty women and bad girls; enchantresses and midwives; rascal aunts and odd sisters. This fabulous celebration of strong minds, low cunning, black arts and dirty tricks could only have been collected by the unique and much-missed Angela Carter. Illustrated throughout with original woodcuts.
But really, this is not the place to learn about Carter, but only a place to inspire you to learn more if you are not yet familiar with her work. Follow the links I've provided. Read her work. The Bloody Chamber is the key text, but reading her selection of fairy tales is also fascinating.
For an excellent collection of articles about Carter's fairy tale related work, do seek out Angela Carter and the Fairy Tale (Marvels & Tales Special Issue, 1). There is a plethora of scholarship, but this is one of the collections that discusses her fairy tale work and less of her other writing.
And, of course, if you are a fan of Angela Carter, seeing The Company of Wolves is a must, too. Once again, not for the faint-hearted, but an unforgettable experience to be sure.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Stella and Rose's Books, a rare and out of print bookseller in the UK, has a monthly newsletter with articles. This month the article is Hans Christian Andersen by Joanne Hill. The article also has several illustrations for Andersen's tales, but the entire article will only take a few minutes to read.