Fairy Tales 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

comment on pharra's post

does anyone else find it impossible to comment on other people's posts? for some reason, the box doesn't let me type in it.

I liked how you mentioned the difference in tone between a typical "grimm's fairy tale" and the literary tales of this week. the tone is much more factual, detailed, and even historical, such as by alluding to the legend of Tristan & Isolde. It reminded me of the "historical background" on the nice guy that Bluebeard really was, who was taken advantage of by 7 different women and finally stabbed to death by the last wife's lover's henchmen. I did not know that this background on Bluebeard was not true, so I read the whole thing feeling terribly sorry for the poor guy, and angry at how history portrayed him! I totally believed it, just because the story began with a scientific, historical-sounding, objective tone.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Finding the Fairy Tale in The Philosopher's Stone

The main difference between this week's stories and the usual Grimm fairy tale is literary complexity. The Philosopher's Stone has complex dialogue, character development, humor and satire. It offers a social critique throughout the story, such as the contemporary issue of German subjects being sold to maintain an evil king's lifestyle. The tale even includes historical allusions that give the tale a superior, factual air about it. Yet despite these differences, magic and storytelling still take center stage. We still get our usual dose of animal-->human transformation, king-->peasant lessons learned, some weird gender mix-ups, and nature's role in helping things along. One notable difference between traditional fairy tales and this story was the inclusion of science and alchemy. Normally tales are timeless and therefore totally nondescript in time period, but this story shows some signs of modernity, with people either believing in the magicians or the scientists. Real magic combats real science. Of course, the ending to this story resembles a traditional fairy tale: happiness and the rite of passage into society that is marriage. They learn to be content with living simply.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Most of the tales we've read thus far have had a seemingly set tone of lightheartedness that conveys the idea that "this is a fairy tale." The tales for this week don't really seem to have that tone. They feel real which makes it harder to classify them as a fairy tale. I can't quite describe why a Grimm's story feels like a fairy tale and these stories don't though. All of the elements are the same such as the magic and mysticism, but they just feel...different. Perhaps it is the point of view through which the tales are told.

What I found interesting about The Philosopher's Stone was that the story is told not from the point of view of some omniscient narrator, but from the Egyptian, at least for a vast majority of the story. The story also takes on the whole satirical tone to where the reader almost wants to take it seriously and then realizes that it's a joke. On the other hand, the story is written in a way that makes it seem real and more plausible for the reader.
It is interesting to observe the transformation within fairy tale from the traditional ever adapting story telling to the unique, literary tale, written by an author and given a permanent identity. Even more interesting is that one of the first literary fairy tales we observe is Wieland's The Philosopher's Stone, a complete satirical take on the fairy tale genre. King Mark, an anti-heroic character who exhibits nothing but sin and vice, is the protagonist of this tale. The narrative arc of this tale is completely out of wack, and on purpose. There is no narrative purpose of the tale. Wieland's only purpose is to completely flip the fair tale genre on its head similar to that of Tex Avery's cartoons, but in a more old fashioned sense. The story changes directions more times than necessary, as fairies appear, disappear, reappear, and metamorphoses occur without explanation. Another approach Wieland takes to mock the fairy tale is his creation of the frame story lay out of The Philosopher's stone, by introducing the seemingly never ending dream sequences/stories. Wieland's satire culminates in these stories because he no longer mock the fairy tale genre, but in fact mocks the literary genre as a whole, because a character within this ridiculous story telling a story seems to be more important than the overarching story itself.

Why is this tale considered a fairy tale?

In the first paragraph of introduction, we are told that the tale contains "strange beings that are frequently found in the wilderness of this region....super-natural creatures." Right off the bat we are introduced to the fact there are fantastical creatures in this tale. This right here is an element that is found in fairy tales. Once the actual story starts, we are again presented with an element of fairy tales. "At one time there was a naked saint who lived in a remote cave near a small river." This starts the tale at an ambiguous place in time as well as with an ambiguous character and ambiguous setting. This piece further adds to the thought that this tale can be considered a fairy tale. Fairy tales are known for fantastical creatures, ambiguous time and setting, as well as magical elements of transformation. This third element presents itself first when the two lovers souls are transformed by the moonlight. Then, the singing transforms the naked saint back into a human. It even said that the singing broke the "magic spell." The overall trajectory of this tale also stays true to that of fairy tales. It starts off in the time and setting, moves through to the creature and his issues, and then is transformed by lovers that break the magical spell.