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Fairy Tale as Myth/Myth as Fairy Tale

Jack Zipes
Series: Clark Lectures
Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Fairy Tale as Myth/Myth as Fairy Tale
    Book Description:

    " Explores the historical rise of the literary fairy tale as genre in the late seventeenth century. In his examinations of key classical fairy tales, Zipes traces their unique metamorphoses in history with stunning discoveries that reveal their ideological relationship to domination and oppression. Tales such as Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and Rumplestiltskin have become part of our everyday culture and shapers of our identities. In this lively work, Jack Zipes explores the historical rise of the literary fairy tale as genre in the late seventeenth century and examines the ideological relationship of classic fairy tales to domination and oppression in Western society. The fairy tale received its most "mythic" articulation in America. Consequently, Zipes sees Walt Disney's Snow White as an expression of American male individualism, film and literary interpretations of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz as critiques of American myths, and Robert Bly's Iron John as a misunderstanding of folklore and traditional fairy tales. This book will change forever the way we look at the fairy tales of our youth.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4390-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. 1-16)

    Attached, almost as an afterthought, to the end of Mircea Eliade’s bookMyth and Reality¹ is a highly stimulating essay entitled “Myths and Fairy Tales.” First published as a review of a book that dealt with the relationship of the fairy tale to the heroic legend and myth,² Eliade’s essay was concerned not only with demonstrating the differences between myth and fairy tale but also with elaborating their extraordinary symbiotic connection.

    It is well known that Eliade, one of the great scholars of religion and myth, believed that “myth narrates a sacred history; it relates an event that took place...

    (pp. 17-48)

    In his endeavor to establish the origins of the fairy tale for children, Peter Brooks stated that “when at the end of the seventeenth century Perrault writes down and publishes tales which had been told for indeterminate centuries—and would continue to be told, and would be collected in varying versions by the Grimm Brothers and other modern folklorists—he seems to be performing for children’s literature what must have been effected forliteraturelong before: that is, he is creating a literature where before there had been myth and folklore. The act of transcription, both creative and destructive, takes...

    (pp. 49-71)

    Rumpelstiltskinis a disturbing fairy tale, not because we never really know the identity of the tiny mysterious creature who spins so miraculously, even when he is named by the queen, the former miller’s daughter. It is disturbing because the focus of folklorists, psychoanalysts, and literary critics has centered on Rumpelstiltskin’s name andhisrole in the tale despite the fact that the name is meaningless.¹ Indeed, it reveals nothing about Rumpelstiltskin’s essence or identity. The naming simply banishes the threatening creature from interfering in the queen’s life. Moreover, his role has always been presented in a misleading way. According...

    (pp. 72-95)

    It was not once upon a time, but in a certain time in history, before anyone knew what was happening, Walt Disney cast a spell on the fairy tale, and it has been held captive ever since. He did not use a magic wand or demonic powers. On the contrary, Disney employed the most up-to-date technological means and used his own “American” grit and ingenuity to appropriate the European fairy tales. His technical skills and ideological proclivities were so consummate that his signature has obfuscated the names of Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Collodi. If children...

    (pp. 96-118)

    When I first heard the title of Robert Bly’s book about men,Iron John,I made several quick associations¹: man of steel, superman, invincible force, solid, but flying through the air faster than a speeding bullet. Explosive. The savior. Reliable. Law and order. John, not Jack. Formality. The Christian John. Stiff. Cold. Inhibited. Not Johnnie. Not Jock. John the Baptist. John the Apostle. Onward Christian soldiers. Blood and iron. Bismarck. Germany. War.

    Never could John be wild. Perhaps Johnny. Perhaps Jack. There was definitely something noble and heroic about the name Iron John, like the kings, dubbed with names signifying...

    (pp. 119-138)

    Utopian novels are written in the indicative about the political subjunctive. They treat contemporary and social conditions and raise questions about how they might or should be changed. Whether conservative or progressive, the narrative strategies of different authors intend to distance us from our present world so that we can explore change. Paradoxically, they remove us from our present situation to engage us with it. Their futuristic or otherworldly settings are deceiving, for they only set the framework for the author’s political critique of the here and now, inviting readers to share the deception and confront the critique. It is...

    (pp. 139-161)

    You can always tell when Christmas is approaching in America. Sometime in November the bookstores begin displaying glossy fairy-tale books with attractive colors and startling designs in their windows. It is almost like magic, and the store windows appear to be enchanted by these marvelous books. Of course, there is really nothing magical about this phenomenon. It is absolutely predictable: storeowners and publishers are in collusion, seeking to entice both children and parents to buy as many books as possible during the holiday season. In most cases, it does not matter if the contents of the books are vapid. It...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 162-174)
    (pp. 175-185)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 186-192)