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Showing posts from May, 2012

Once Upon a Time: Emma's Baby Blanket, By Samantha Kymmell-Harvey -- A Guest Post

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Editor's Note: Today's guest post can be seen as a companion piece to a post about ABC's hit TV show Once Upon A Time, by Samantha Kymmell-Harvey and published in EC a few months ago. Together, they give us a great picture of what is appealing about the show.
With all that’s going on in ABC’s Once Upon a Time it’s so easy to overlook the tiny details that just might make difference in future episodes. Like Emma’s baby blanket. We see Granny stitching it in the pilot. Next, we see it draped across the back of a chair in Emma’s Boston apartment. Finally, she brings it with her when she moves in with Mary Margaret.  Why would tough Sheriff Swan keep her baby blanket? “Because it’s all I have of my parents,” she tells Nicolas and Ava (Hansel and Gretel in Fairytale Land), with whom she feels a strong connection because they too have lost their mother and father.

What if Emma’s baby blanket is more than just a memento of her parents and proof of her  true name? What if it, per…

Sun, Moon, and Talia, By Giambattista Basile

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Editor's Note: Since I first read this version of "Sleeping Beauty," which I think of as the original (wiser heads might disagree), I view the slumbering princess in a totally different light. Basile's story, which he set down in the 1630s, is replete with crimes against Talia, crimes against human decency, and pretty much a gallery of human awfulness. Truly, I am perplexed as to why this early version of "Sleeping Beauty" fell out of favor with adults. (Update: When we are tempted to think our 21st-Century selves as above this form of entertainment, we need only think of slasher films. Modern adults have no corner on morally superior entertainment. KW) Kids, I can understand, but this dark tale has magic, sleep sex (shudder with the creepiness of it all!), a diabolical scorned wife, and a happy ending -- I guess.
I promise, read this and you'll never see a "Prince Charming" as any kind of rescuer of woman. (Update: Part of my goal when thinki…

Snow White, By Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, 1812 Version

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Editor's Note: I've taught "Snow White," to college students and read countless submissions to EC updating it, and still, the tale enthralls me. It's been played with in so many ways and forms, for so long, I should be tired of the whole story. But how others see it still often surprises me. What's more, "Snow White," in this variant, is so very different from the pastel cypher of the Disney movie, that I never grow tired of remembering that Snow, in 1812, was a rule-breaking runaway.
As for Disney, while there is much good and bad I could say, and have said, about the 1937 movie classic, I must point this out: Much is written about how the mirror in Snow White" is the voice of male dominance and judgment. Yet, in most of the illustrations of the magic mirror before the movie, the queen's reflection is genderless or a some version of her own reflection. As far as I can tell, it became male with the Disney film. 
And the prince? Dear God! W…

Beauty and the Beast, the de Beaumont Version

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Beauty and the Beast is the only "big" fairy tale I can think of that is about what happens after marriage. The best-known version was written by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, an 18th-century teacher and writer who know a thing or two about truly beastly husbands.
Analyses of B&B are thick on the ground. I enjoy what Maria Tatar has to say in her must-read, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, but here is my own take: "Beauty and the Beast" is about the shock that takes place when two people marry and find the real person behind the love object. Granted, when de Beaumont wrote B&B, girls of "good" family (which would have been her kind of student), often still had arranged marriages, but love matches were becoming popular in all classes. Even in love-based marriages, including today's unions, once people marry, things change. I know many people who lived together before marriage, and to a person, they say that after they got married, thin…

Cinderella, by Charles Perrault

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Editor's note: Below is the text of "Cinderella," from Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book, first published in 1889. While the ending in this particular version is a bit too sweet for my tastes, the "color" fairy tale books have been so widely read, it seemed the best text to add to EC.
Cinderella is my favorite fairy tale heroine. When presented with a real chance to go to the ball and meet her fate, she grabs the opportunity with gusto. She clearly enchants the prince with more than just her looks, and the fact that she had long served as a maid and cook suggests that once she is chatelaine of a castle, she will know her business. Dare I say it? Cinderella seems a bit modern. She takes her chances and wins.


Once there was a gentleman who married, for his second wife, the proudest and most haughty woman that was ever seen. She had, by a former husband, two daughters of her own humor, who were, indeed, exactly like her in all things. He had likewise, by another w…