Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dickens Birthday: Victorian Fairy Tales: The Revolt of the Fairies and Elves by Jack Zipes

Victorian Fairy Tales: The Revolt of the Fairies and Elves is one book with some words on Dickens by the Grimm Legacies keynote speaker, Jack Zipes. For an excerpt about Dickens from the introduction, scroll further down this post.

Book description:

This is an illuminating, irresistible, and unique anthology of fairy tales written by some of the most notable writers of the Victorian period. Presented chronologically, the twenty-two tales in this volume, by such masters of storytelling as Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, and Edith Nesbitt, will enthrall readers of all ages. Most of the tales are accompanied by their original illustrations, including work by some of the best known illustrators of the time. Through his insightful introduction to the collection and his introduction to each tale, Jack Zipes brings to life the history of the development of the fairy tale, presents background material on the authors, and describes the role the fairy tale played in Victorian society.

From the introduction, Zipes's words on Dickens:

Dickens himself tended to incorporate fairy-tale motifs and plots primarily in his novels and particularly in his Christmas Books (1843-5). It is almost as though he did not want to tarnish the childlike innocence of the tales that he read as a young boy-tales which incidentally filled him with hope during his difficult childhood-by replacing them with new ones. But Dickens did use the fairy tale to make political and social statements, as in Prince Bull (1855) and The Thousand and One Humbugs (1855), and his regressive longings for the innocent bliss of fairyland are mad most evident in his essay A Christmas Tree (1850).

What was to be was Dickens' adult quest for fairy bliss in his novels, and it is not by chance that one of the last works he wrote toward the end of his life was "The Magic Fishbone" (1868)...Here Dickens parodied a helpless king as a salaried worker, who is accustomed to understanding everything with his reason. He becomes totally confused by the actions of his daughter Alicia, who receives a magic fishbone from a strange and brazen fairy named Grandmarina. Alicia does not use the fishbone when one would expect her to. Only when the king reveals to her that he can no longer provide for the family does Alicia make use of the magic fishbone. Suddenly Grandmarina arrives to bring about a comical ending in which the most preposterous changes occur. Nothing can be grasped through logic, and this is exactly Dickens' point: his droll tale-narrated from the viewpoint of a child-depends on the unusual deployment of fairy-tale motifs to question the conventional standards of society and to demonstrate that there is strength and soundness in the creativity of the younhg. The patriarchal figure of authority is at a loss to rule and provide, and the reversal of circumstances points to a need for change in social relations. The realm of genuine happiness that is glimpsed at the end of Dickens' fairy tale is a wish-fulfillment that he himself shared with many Victorians who were dissatisfied with social conditions in English society.

Table of Contents

Note on the Illustrations

Uncle David's Nonsensical Story about Giants and Fairies
Catherine Sinclair

The King of the Golden River, or The Black Brothers
John Ruskin

Cinderella and the Glass Slipper
George Cruikshank

Heinrich; or, The Love of Gold
Alfred Crowquill

Bruno's Revenge
Lewis Carroll

The Magic Fishbone
Charles Dickens

Anne Isabella Ritchie

The Ogre Courting
Juliana Horatia Ewing

The Prince's Dream
Jean Ingelow

Charlie Among the Elves
Edward H. Knatchbull-Hugessen

A Toy Princess
Mary De Morgan

The Day Boy and the Night Girl
George Macdonald

All my Doing; or Red Riding-Hood Over Again
Harriet Louisa Childe-Pemberton

The Princess Nobody
Andrew Lang

The Story of a King's Daughter
Mary Louisa Molesworth

The Happy Prince
Oscar Wilde

Wooden Tony
Lucy Lane Clifford

The Potted Princess
Rudyard Kipling

The Rooted Lover
Laurence Housman

The Reluctant Dragon
Kenneth Grahame

The Last of the Dragons
Edith Nesbit

The Spell of the Magician's Daughter
Evelyn Sharp

Select Bibliography

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