Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Favorite Adaptations: Wolfland by Tanith Lee

Here is a guest post by SurLaLune reader Luna, who is from the Philipines. This is yet another ping on my frustration nerve because Red as Blood or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer is still out of print and the used copies are selling for crazy prices that Lee will never see a cent for anyway. This book needs to be back in print! One of the top joys of ebooks is that they don't go out of print, can be around forever for purchase and the authors can still receive royalties for them. Everyone wins in that scenario, except used booksellers (sorry to them!). I own a hardcover myself so I cannot complain, but this would be a top recommendation for me if it was more readily available to all of you.

Tempting the Gods: The Selected Stories of Tanith Lee Volume 1 is rereleased this July but it's not a reprint of Red as Blood.

But now for Luna's wonderful explanation of why she enjoys Lee's work.

My current favorite adaptation of a fairy tale is ‘Wolfland,’ Tanith Lee’s version of ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’ This story can be found in Lee’s 1983 collection Red as Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer.

I enjoyed the story’s lush Gothic atmosphere and its depiction of Red Riding Hood (named Lisel in this version) as a more realistic and complex figure: petulant, impetuous, sometimes disrespectful, but also capable of boldness and intelligence. Lisel and her grandmother Anna are not peasants but are both fairly rich, and although the forest still plays an important role, the description of Anna’s chateau and household brings considerable mystery and elegance to the story.

What I appreciated most about this retelling, however, was how Lee reimagined the grandmother, Anna, as a strong and dominant figure and how she merged Anna’s character with that of the wolf. In fact, Anna comes across as a more vivid and engrossing character than Lisel. It was refreshing to find a fairy tale in which an older woman is portrayed as wise and powerful but not necessarily evil, in which marriage is not romanticized, and in which women are able to take revenge on brutal men.

It’s too bad that Lee’s ‘Red as Blood’ is apparently out-of-print; aside from ‘Wolfland,’ it has other very dark and interesting versions of well-known fairy tales such as ‘Cinderella’ (retold as ‘When the Clock Strikes’) and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (retold as ‘Beauty’). Dark retellings of fairy tales are very popular these days, so many readers would relish the tales in Lee’s collection even if it came out almost 30 years ago.

1 comment:

  1. I really do need to hunt this one down! I know when I was teaching Composition I had my students read "When the Clock Strikes" and it was fascinating to see their reactions. I had a few get almost angry at the story--they were offended at the idea of Cinderella being portrayed as a villain! While Lee can be a bit dark for my tastes at times I can truly appreciate her imagination.