Thursday, March 26, 2015

Icelandic Live-Action Beast Kickstarter Project, Check It Out

 
Blind Hummingbird Productions just released the trailer for Beast, a darker take on the classic fairy tale, shot entirely in Iceland.
 
“This is a feminine take on the hero’s journey,” says writer/director Max Gold. “Bell’s psychological journey inward is as much a focus as her harrowing quest through the Icelandic wilderness. Bell is fleeing a brutal past; she is contending with a lot of inner demons. She is a deeply flawed character and we don’t shy away from putting those flaws up on screen, but she is also extremely willful. Her will and courage ultimately carry her through.”
 
Beast stars Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, aka THE MOUNTAIN from HBO’s Game of Thrones alongside a completely Icelandic cast.
 
“Casting the film entirely Icelandic maintains an integrity of place that bleeds through the screen. Rather than rely on special effects, my visual team emphasizes the stunning landscape to catapult the audience head-on into this magic world.”
 
Bell is played by newcomer Berta Andrea and Beast is played by Icelandic model Ingi Hrafn. The film is shot by Cannes-showcased cinematographer, Ed Wu. Production Designer: Haisu Wang (Steven Spielberg’s The Pacific) Costume Designer: Ella Reynis (Game of Thrones).
 
Beast is written and directed by Max Gold, whose previous credits include the Golden Globe-nominated Arbitrage (2012). Gold’s commercials, short films and video art installations have received numerous accolades and international festival attention.

If you like what you see, please support Beast on Kickstarter.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Around the World: Tall Tales in America, By Christina Ruth Johnson, Vintage Fairy Tale Sleuth

Happy Spring! The beginning of a brand new season calls for the beginning of something new and fun here on Enchanted Conversation. I am starting a journey around the world! We will take a peek into the fairy tales and folklore from our planet’s wide variety of countries and cultures. No need for a hot air balloon: just join Enchanted Conversation and let the adventuring begin.

I’m an American, so I figured, what better place to begin our Fairy Tale Grand Tour than in my own backyard? With the United States’ fairly young history, we don’t typically think of it as a place where fairy tales come from (leaving aside contemporary fiction). We don’t have tales like Perrault’s “Donkeyskin” with roots going back all the way to the Middle Ages. (See my previous post “The Constancy of Fairy Tales.” )

But this doesn’t mean that we lack for stories. They’re just a little different. Hero stories. Legends. Tall tales.

The Americas are also rife with extraordinary tales from their many native cultures--these stories are so varied and wonderful that they deserve an entire post (or two, or three) of their own, so I will not discuss them now (definitely later!).

I grew up on the so-called “tall tales.” For example: Johnny Appleseed, who planted apple trees wherever he went as he traveled across the U.S. making friends with every person and animal he met. He wore a coffee sack as a shirt and a cooking pot as a hat. We learned the Johnny Appleseed song in pre-school, and I can still sing it off the top of my head. What I only just discovered while writing this post is that the original song comes from a Disney animated short, first aired in 1948 on Melody Time.

Johnny Appleseed is based on an actual man, Jonathan Chapman, born in 1775, who trekked across the Midwest planting apple trees in areas he deemed appropriate. He planted one nursery of trees in Fort Wayne, Indiana, using it as a home base for his journeys. The city has a festival in his honor every year.

A second tall tale hero, John Henry, is also supposedly based on an actual historical figure. An African-American steel driver, John Henry is the strongest and best driller for the railroad and is pitted against a new drilling machine. In a timed contest, he out-drills the machine, but his victory comes at the expense of his life. In the late 1920s and early 30s, a man named Guy B. Johnson researched the story’s origin and tracked down potential witnesses to the great contest. He found a man, Neal Miller, who claimed to have seen John Henry beat the drill at Big Bend Tunnel in West Virginia. According to Miller, the contest had lasted for more than a day, and Henry had not rested enough. Henry became ill and later died from his exertions. Whether this account is true or not, Johnson still received letters from across the United States from people who knew different versions of stories or songs about Henry and who claimed to have known him or to know someone who had known him.

Here's a song:
Here's a statue of John Henry on an overlook above the Big Bend Tunnel, WV, below:


 Our final tall tale hero of this post is Paul Bunyan. Of all the tall tales, his are the closest to being “fairy” stories with his supernatural size and impossibly blue ox companion. An incredible number of tales about Bunyan abound, most to do with extraordinary feats of strength and/or cleverness within the logging profession. The tales likely existed orally for decades among North American lumberjacks before they were recorded in print in the early 1900s. In 1914, an advertizing agency latched onto Paul Bunyan for commercial purposes, increasing his height from over-large to truly gargantuan and naming his blue ox Babe. You can read stories about Bunyan in this collection from the University of Wisconsin.

Statue of Paul Bunyan and his ox in Bemidji, MN, below.


Advertisement featuring William Laughead’s mustachioed Paul Bunyan, 1931, below:

American tall tales might not belong in the same category as European fairy tales, but they have a legitimacy of their own. John Henry may have been an actual man (and who knows, Paul Bunyan may have started that way, too--the name had to come from somewhere!) but both tales grew from strong oral traditions before spreading to a wider audience through print, song, and film. (The story of Johnny Appleseed gained popularity in this way as well, though it remains more of a hero story or legend than a folktale due to its strong connection to the original Jonathan Chapman.) They have been passed down through the generations to the point that their true origins are obscured but their simple truths, morals, and inspiration live on. America’s very own fairy tales.

Let me know in the comments what regions’ and cultures’ fairy tales and folklore you want to learn about in our travels!

Christina Ruth Johnson has her M.A. in Art History with a research focus on the ancient Mediterranean. She is currently working as a teacher and freelance writer. Her other great love is fantasy literature and folklore from ancient times to present day.

References & Further Reading:
Guy B. Johnson, “First Hero of Negro Folk Lore,” Modesto Bee and News-Herald (22 February 1930). http://www.newspapers.com/clip/965679/guy_b_johnson_first_hero_of_negro/.
J.E. Rockwell, “Some Lumberjack Myths,” The Outer’s Book (February 1910): 157-160. http://www.paulbunyanfineart.com/1910/some_lumberjack_myths.html.
“Johnny Appleseed,” America’s Library. http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/revolut/jb_revolut_apple_1.html.
“Paul Bunyan: America’s Best Known Folk Hero,” Wisconsin Historical Society.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Submissions Call: Frozen Fairy Tales

In the bleak midwinter, the call of fairy tales can be especially irresistible. After all, fairy tales both take us out of our humdrum world and into the possibilities of what can be--or maybe even is. A fairy tale read in winter can help us dream through the the cold days and nights.


Yet, surprisingly few fairy tales are specifically set in winter. With Frozen Fairy Tales, we're hoping to remedy that.
In a joint venture between World Weaver Press and Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, we're opening up to submissions for a fairy tale collection set in winter. Details are below.

Edit: This collection is aimed at an audience of 15 or older in age. It will not be a children's publication.

1) You must be 18 or older to submit.
2) Submissions must be in English, but submissions from all over the world are most welcome.
3) No stories connected to the movie Frozen will be considered. It's a great movie, but this anthology is not at all about that film.
4) Stories centered on winter holidays are most welcome, but stories do not need to be holiday focused. Krampus-themed stories will be considered, but please do not resubmit stories that were previously submitted for the Krampusnatch collection.
5) A sense of winter and its perils and possibilities must be part your story.
6) This is a fairy tale collection, which means the sensibility of the stories should evoke classic fairy tales. You do not need to retell famous fairy tales reset in winter, but you may. 
Nonetheless, the classics have been retold a lot lately, so fresher takes with more originality stand a better chance of being selected, as do retellings of obscure fairy tales. But think winter!
7) Please, no erotica, hard-core horror or sci-fi.
8) Open submission period: March 6-May 15, 2015.
9) Length: Under 10,000 words.
10) Submission method: Email cover letter and story to enchantedconversation [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject line “Frozen Fairy Tales Anthology – story title.” Cover letter should contain your name, contact info, story’s title, and approximate word count; no need to summarize the story, let it speak for itself. Then paste the full story into the body of the email following your letter. Please make it very clear where paragraphs break — this means if your email doesn’t let you indent paragraphs, you’ll need to put an extra space between each paragraph for submission purposes. Do not send unrequested attachments.
Simultaneous submissions = okay. Multiple submissions = no.
11) Rights and compensation: Payment: $20. All contributors will receive a paperback copy of the anthology.
We are seeking first world rights in English and exclusive rights to publish in print and electronic format for twelve months after publication date after which publisher retains nonexclusive right to continue to publish for a term. No reprints will be considered. That means only previously unpublished works will be considered.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ten Fingers Touching Interview, By Brita Long, Fairy Tale Book Reviewer


I recently had the pleasure of reading Ten Fingers Touching, the debut novella by Ellen Roth.  While I received a hardcover copy in exchange for my review, all opinions are my own.

Roth has written a romantic fairy tale for women reminiscent of the classic stories we read and loved as children.

The love story between Martak and Marianna is set against an epic battle between Good and Evil, much like the romances in ancient Greek myths.

Roth’s writing is beautiful and poetic. I absolutely love her descriptions of the characters and the settings. The only writing that feels a little awkward are the love scenes between Martak and Marianna.

I personally don’t see the point of trying to write a steamy love scene with only flowery euphemisms. Roth’s book stands out from other romances due to its breathtaking illustrations. John Blumen created all the artwork for the cover and the chapters. The artwork really helped bring the book alive.

Roth was kind enough to answer a few of my questions to share with the readers of Enchanted Conversation! Below is my interview with her.

Who are your favorite authors and artists? Did any of them inspire Ten Fingers Touching in some way?

 When I was a child, I was given a large fairy tale book with beautiful illustrations. It was filled with original fairy tales that were French, German, Danish, Russian and Japanese translated by Marie Ponsot and illustrated by Adrienne Segur. I loved this book as a child, and I cherish it as an adult. It was inscribed "To Princess Ellen on her 9th birthday with fond wishes for many, many hours of reading and dreaming." I lived inside this book and savored every story and every illustration. It was the most beautiful thing I owned and it provided me with endless hours of pleasure.

While I loved all the stories, I was especially drawn to those by Hans Christian Andersen so I would say that he is my favorite author!

I was an art major in college. I have an MFA in museology (museum studies) and early in my career, I was an art therapist, so art and creativity have always been an important part of my life. I enjoy and appreciate a range of artistic styles, but I'm awed by the works of the 17th-century Dutch masters and in particular, Jan Vermeer. I love his realism, attention to detail and dramatic use of light in genre paintings which are the same characteristics that drew me to John Blumen's digital illustrations of characters in imaginary worlds.

My love of fairy tales was inspired by great story tellers like Hans Christian Andersen. But my goal in creating Ten Fingers Touching was to write a fairy tale for grownups that was beautifully illustrated like a children's book, i.e., a storybook for adults.

Which fairy tale do you love most? Do you like any of the modern twists or adaptations on it?

My favorite fairy tale is "The Princess and the Pea" by Hans Christian Andersen. I have read several versions of it but there is nothing like the original story by the original author...pure, simple and elegant.

When did you first start writing Ten Fingers Touching? How long did it take from the initial spark to the beautiful published book today?

I started writing it many years ago, but I never had the time to write the story that I really wanted to tell because, at the same time, I was growing my company. All my energy and creativity was going into building a successful business. In 2012, I downsized my company in order to carve out more personal time for myself. Between 2012 and December 9, 2014, I wrote and published the book. I worked with an editor, illustrator, professional reader, grammarian; my book club, who were test readers; my family, who also provided critiques; and a custom printer to ensure that the paper was high quality, the illustrations retained their luscious colors and luminosity, and that the dust jacket felt smooth and sensuous. I wanted to write a story and, at the same time, create a work of art. The finished product is a dream come true!

The illustrations for Ten Fingers Touching are absolutely stunning. How well did John Blumen bring your vision to life? Has his art affected how you imagine your own characters?

John is a master illustrator, and he breathed life into the characters as I imagined them in my head. We worked very closely together engaging the following process: 

He read the book, and then we discussed which chapters would have full illustrations and which would have spot illustrations.

He would do a drawing, and then we discussed it in great detail.

Then he tweaked the illustration based on my suggestions for changes.

We went through this process multiple times for the cover and each illustration. But there were also two instances when I loved aspects of his illustrations so much that I tweaked the text to conform to the image!  It was a wonderful collaborative process and I am so grateful for his talent.

I know you just published Ten Fingers Touching, but can your readers expect more from you? Have you considered writing another novella or a collection of short stories set in the same universe?

Thank you for your kind words. It is a great compliment when a reader seeks more. My next goal is to write the screen play! I would like to see Ten Fingers Touching made into a movie, and I think it lends itself to the big screen. When I wrote the story, I pictured every scene. In fact, that's how I write. I see the image in my head, and then I describe it in words as opposed to writing words that create images!

 I also have a great idea for a children's book that I would like to develop, and additionally, I'm considering writing a story where the main character is loosely based on my mother, who passed away seven years ago. 

So, at the moment, I'm not certain about a sequel for Ten Fingers Touching! One step at a time!

I’m so grateful Roth took the time to answer my questions for my fellow fairy tale enthusiasts. If you’re looking for a new romance unlike any other, check out Ten Fingers Touching by Ellen Roth.
 
Brita Long

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Book of Newly Discovered Fairy Tales is Out Feb. 24

I've already preorderd my copy! The book  is called The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales. The English translation was done by the always excellent Maria Tatar.

You can read an interview with Tatar about the book by copying and pasting this link into your search bar:

http://www.salon.com/2015/02/21/down_and_dirty_fairy_tales_how_this_rediscovered_stash_of_darker_than_grimm_stories_destroys_our_prince_charming_myths/


Friday, February 20, 2015

Hint: A New Anthology With a Chilly Theme Will Soon Open For Submissions

Details are still being worked out, but soon, EC and World Weaver Press will be opening for submissions of winter themed fairy tales. Guidelines will be coming soon! So keep checking back.

Some inspiration:


Monday, February 9, 2015

Fairy Tale News, By Nora Stasio: A Fairy Tale Followup: Galavant has Come and Gone

 
Greetings Fairy Tale Fanatics!

I don’t know how many of you will remember, but many moons ago, I wrote about a TV series that ABC had in the works, a musical comedy with a medieval/fairy tale epic/adventure setting, entitled Galavant. It came out the first week of the New Year, January 2015, and actually, it’s already over. Did you get a chance to see it? DVR it?
 
Now, I didn’t absolutely love this show, but I’m VERY upset that it’s over… Let me explain.
 
I didn't watch every episode of Galavant, mostly because I don't generally watch much TV. The episodes I did catch, I thought they were... ok. The humor wasn't entirely my taste, and I found the plot-lines a bit strange. The songs didn't blow me away either, but they were likable. I guess it's pretty easy to expect more from Disney's beloved composer, Alan Menken, when he's written so many fantastic hits before.
 
The most likable things about the show, I'd say, are the characters. They each have their own quirks, all of them funny, charming, and sweet in their own unique way. The writers place no reliance on overdone stereotypes (which run rampant across TV-land these days, in my opinion), and all of the actors give very strong performances, well-timed, genuine, and often heartfelt. Also, I might add, the costumes and sets are all splendid. They give this fairy tale epic a quaint, authentic-but-stylized, olde-world appeal.
 
So when I found out the "4 week series" was coming to an end last month, I decided to tune in, desiring to know how it all might wrap up. Would each of the characters come to see their respective dreams realized, their secrets revealed, or would it end with some shocking twist that no one saw coming?
 
Well, I guess it’s safe to say the latter came true. The season finale aired, but by all accounts, Galavant hadn't ended! No loose ends were tied up, nothing was resolved or settled--in fact, when the credits rolled at 9:00pm, the future looked more grim than ever for our beloved crew of characters. Our three leads had been separated, each in a different place, each in a seemingly hopeless situation, and each stuck there indefinitely. That's right--I won't give anything away, but Galavant ended on a completely and utterly unsatisfying cliffhanger.
 
The most infuriating part is that, for all anyone knows, Galavant has not been renewed for a second season! It could be, but it hasn't been yet. And if it does come back, when will it air? Surely ABC has a full year of programming already scheduled--if Galavant Part 2 is not a certainty, where will it fit in among all the rest?
 
It's funny how I never watch TV, and the one time I do, and actually enjoy something, this is what happens to me. I'll personally be heartbroken, along with surely scads of others, if Galavant never returns. That would be a terrible shame, especially for the production team, cast, and crew, and everyone else who put their heart and soul into making this little show so special. Anyone who’s watched it can attest to the amount of hard work that must have been put into this project.
 
What were your thoughts on Galavant, if you watched it? Also - in your experience, what was the most infuriating cliffhanger you’ve ever come across while watching a series, and was the next episode worth the wait? Leave us a comment!
 
(Editor's note: Didn't like it. But I hate almost all musicals. I do like Into the Woods, though.)
 
Bio: Nora writes, "I have been a lover of creative writing and fairy tales for basically my entire life! I graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers where I completed a minor in English, with a focus in Creative Writing and Shakespeare (I majored in Psychology)."


Nora's Avatar
 


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Book Review Column by Brita Long: Good Fairy Tales That Could Have Been Great

 
 

Based on my previous reviews, you might have concluded that I love absolutely every fairy tale I ever read. After all, my other columns are basically nonstop gushing over Jim C. Hines, Alex Flinn, Holly Black, and more.

Today’s column is a bit different. I received a complimentary Kindle copy of The Mound by Brendan P. Myers in exchange for my review. I also stumbled across Jane Yolen’s Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty at my local library. Prior to reading these books, I was not familiar with either author. While I definitely enjoyed reading each book, they did not reach the same level of pure magical perfection of the other books I’ve reviewed.

The Mound is very different than any modern-day fairy tale I’ve read. Like most modern fairy tales, it takes place in the present day, but most mortals are unaware that magic is real. Levi Hogan is the new police chief in small-town Bixbie, Massachusetts, trying to escape an alcoholic past and to rebuild a relationship with his estranged daughter, Dani.

What Levi doesn’t know is that his daughter is destined to become the next queen of a fairy kingdom, right there in, or rather, under, Bixbie.

Myers is a vivid storyteller. An early part of the book involves the prophetic artwork of teenage Ian, the heir to the throne. A distinguishing feature of the Bixbie is an ancient, mysterious mound. I love the colorful language Myers uses to describe these plot elements.

The co-existence of the mortal and immortal, the temporary resurrection of the dead, and the magical blending of the past and present are all unique fantastical details that kept me at rapt attention during the entire book.

Unfortunately, Myers’s attempt to explain all these details in a logical manner didn’t quite work. I still don’t know if the fairies disguised as mortals are known to the real mortals surrounding Bixbie. I don’t know if the fairies once lived as mortals and pretended to die. I don’t know how the evil fairy prince lived among mortals in the present-day. I don’t understand how Levi went back in time and started over.

I really enjoyed the majority of The Mound, but I was disappointed that so many parts didn’t come together at the end.

I love the concept of Yolen’s novel. I’m a sucker for fairy tales told by the villain’s POV. In this version, Gorse is the thirteenth child in a family of fairies who are tied to the king’s land and sworn to do his bidding. Her father is an elf, and they are the only ones in the family to share a love of books and learning.

My favorite part of the book was learning the family’s history. With the exception of her father, Gorse’s family are all Shouting Fey, fairies who shout magical spells. Gorse’s love of books is just one reason she’s different than her family. She also falls ill quite often, and she’s accident prone. I also enjoyed learning about their exile from the fairy courts and how an ancient magical oath still ties their family to the land.

The bulk of the story, however, is supposed to be the riveting excitement that eventually leads to Sleeping Beauty’s curse. Instead, it’s a slow-paced account of Gorse trying to escape a magical cave that imprisons the cruel fairy prince Orybon and his magically-beholden cousin Grey. And at some point Gorse’s brother Dusty stumbles into the cave too. While they eventually escape, the cave experience is very drawn-out and barely sets up a back story to Gorse cursing the princess. Oh, and Grey magically reverts back to being a teenage fairy, which just conveniently shoehorns in a romance between him and Gorse.

Have you ever been disappointed in a great book’s conclusion? What books have you read lately? Leave a comment!

Brita Long is a francophile feminist living out her own fairy tale with her husband in Ohio. You can find her online at bellebrita.com, where she writes about her faith, books, and her life as a southern belle in the Midwest.

Brita Long

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fairy Tale Fans: Meet the International Fairy-Tale Filmography, By Lissa Sloan

International Fairy-Tale Filmography Banner (By Nikki Pilgrim, using movie stills from Melies' work)
Editor's note: Lissa Sloan is an old friend to EC and is currently busy with her writing career. You can find lots of great articles by her is you look for her name under the labels here on the site. I asked her to help me out in exploring the new source outlined below. KW
 
Until recently, if you had asked me how many fairy tale films were out there, I would have said, aside from Disney animated ones, and some new ones resulting from the current popularity of fairy tales, not too many. Thanks to the International Fairy-Tale Filmography, iftf.uwinnipeg.ca, I now know how wrong I was. The International Fairy-Tale Filmography is the creation of Jack Zipes, Pauline Greenhill, and Kendra Magnus-Johnston and was funded by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. It is an extensive, searchable, and free online database of over two thousand fairy tale films.
 
On diving into this database, I found it quite user-friendly. It can be searched by several categories. So a searcher looking for The Company of Wolves can find it by entering its title, director (Neil Jordan), country (UK), or origin (Little Red Riding Hood). If you don't know exactly what you're looking for, it is also easy to browse these categories. Each film's record includes some basic information about it, such as director, country of origin, and leading cast members. Often there is a link to the film's record on the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), and sometimes, if the film is old enough to be in the public domain and has been archived, there is even a link to watch it online!
 
I was especially curious to see if some of my favorite lesser-known tales have appeared on film and was pleasantly surprised to see that there are in fact three versions of Bearskin. Another of my favorites is Allerleirauh, and searching for this one was more difficult, likely because there are many names and many different versions of the original tale, such as Donkeyskin, Thousandfurs, and Roughskin. Fortunately, when searching in the origin field, the searcher can search not only by original tale name, but also by Aarne-Thompson-Uther tale-type. I quickly learned to keep a second window open for looking up the tale-type number. Googling “Allerleirauh Aarne Thompson” gave me the result I needed: 510B, Unnatural Love. By entering the appropriate number into the search box, I easily found seven different films of Donkeyskin or similar, three of the Search for the Lost Husband type, and even one based on The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs.
 
The filmography is especially impressive when looking up more popular tales. When I looked up Bluebeard, over fifty films appeared, made as early as 1897 and as recently as 2010, made in France, Austria, the US, the UK, and even Japan. In addition to more obviously titled films such as Barbe Bleu, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, and Bluebeard Jr., the list included Charlie Chaplin's uncharacteristic talkie Monsieur Verdoux, Jane Eyre, and Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers Notorious, Spellbound, and Suspicion. I felt there was a Bluebeard film missing though. While Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of Rebecca appeared under origin tales Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, it did not appear in the Bluebeard list. Happily though, the International Fairy Tale Filmography is a work in progress, and a collaborative one. Users of the database are encourage to contribute suggestions, so I did. I sent them an email and received a very prompt reply from Dr. Greenhill, saying she would add it in. Within a few days, Rebecca was indexed as a Bluebeard film.
 
I wouldn't say I am a film buff, but I do watch a lot of movies, and I am obviously a fairy tale fan. So I am excited to start tracking down some of the films indexed on the International Fairy Tale Filmography. I hope other fairy tale fans will be inspired to jump in to explore and contribute ideas, making this terrific resource even bigger and better. Have you visited this website? Join the Enchanted Conversation and tell us what you think. Happy watching!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Grimm Fairy Tales, Restored to Their Formerly Grimmer Glory, By Nora Stasio, Fairy Tale News Reporter


In my last article, I talked about how the original Grimm Brothers' fair ytales were a little bit grim, and how they have, over the years, been cleaned up and censored to be more family friendly. Well, if you've forever found that trend disappointing, you'll really enjoy today's story.

Jack Zipes has released The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, and his translation aims to keep the tales as dark, gritty, risqué, and unpolished as they were when Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm compiled them hundreds of years ago.

Jack Zipes is the Professor of German and Comparative Literature at University of Minnesota, and a well-known fairytale scholar. He was able to get his hands on the original, uncensored Grimm publications, and translated them from German himself.

As you may know, The Grimm Brothers had spent much of their early years compiling ancient Germanic folk and fairy tales that had been passed down orally through generations of local families. The brothers recorded the tales just as they'd been told them, and released 2 volumes of Children's and Household Tales between 1812 and 1815.

The volumes didn't sell as well as the brothers had hoped. The main criticism they received was that the tales were not "child-friendly," as the title might suggest. They began to make some revisions, hoping to appeal to the conservative, religious middle-class families of that day and age. Not only did the tales become cleaner and sweeter, but the Brothers also gave them a personal touch, inserting their own voices into the narration.

They cut out the gorier passages in several tales, removing some entirely if there was too much violence overall. Passages that had been sexual in nature were revised to be more innocent and chaste, suggestive only of pure and chivalric romance. In an effort to appear more seemly to the Catholic Church, some elements that had had an air of paganism were removed or reimagined. Also, the Brothers had a strong, spiritual sort of reverence for family, valuing motherhood especially highly in the equation.

In their revisions, wicked mothers were changed into stepmothers--after all, how could a loving mother ever commit an unsavory act against the fruit of her very own loins? When the brothers made the tales their own, mothers came to represent the ultimate good, chaste love was true love, gore was replaced by magic and whimsy--and God reigned on high through it all.

I'd be remiss if I didn't give you a few examples of what the original fairy tales were like. I'll start with “Rapunzel”--in the ancient version, Rapunzel spends many a day alone “making merry” with her friend, the Prince, whilst the Witch is away. When the old hag returns, Rapunzel naively asks why her dress is getting so tight around the middle. The witch is furious that Rapunzel's been unchaste, and banishes her to a desert, where she gives birth to twin boys (and they all survive, which is pretty amazing). In later versions, Rapunzel merely remarks that the Witch is so much heavier to pull up the tower than the Prince is, and there is no mention of twins being born until after the marriage.

There is a surplus of bad mothers to be found in these ancient stories. In the original version of “Hansel and Gretel," the mother of the twins abandons them in the woods because she is too poor to feed them (you can't fault her for being poor, but she might have found a better place to leave them, right?). This sad detail was left out of future versions of the tale. In the ancient version of “Snow White”, the maiden is only seven years old. It is her own mother, not a wicked stepmother, who despises the child’s beauty and plots her death.

“The Children Who Played at Slaughtering” is one story the brothers chose to remove from later publications due to an excess of violence. Trust me, that's no mere exaggeration. This one, short as it is, gets terribly gory... I won't go into detail; if you're interested, head over here: http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/case-studies/113

Lastly, the original version of “Cinderella” has a surprising bit of gore in it as well. When the wicked stepmother sees that her daughter’s feet will never fit into Cinderella’s dainty slipper, she instructs them to cut off their toes with a knife. And they obey. Beauty is pain, right? However, the Prince, seeing all the blood, does not fall for their gruesome trickery.

If you’re interested in a copy of The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm, follow this link to Amazon.com:http://www.amazon.com/Original-Fairy-Tales-Brothers-Grimm/dp/0691160597
It might just make the perfect gift for the fairy-tale fanatic in your life. (Or yourself!)

What do you think - Do you like your fairytales neat and clean, or grim and gory? Will you be checking out Jack Zipes translations?

Bio: Nora writes, "I have been a lover of creative writing and fairy tales for basically my entire life! I recently graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers where I completed a minor in English, with a focus in Creative Writing and Shakespeare (I majored in Psychology)."