Saturday, May 8, 2010

I Love Fairy Tales

It's true, I do.  I know I'm not alone.  In fact it is probably a tad cheesy now days to be stuck in the 1980s and confessing to continually reliving a neo-Jungian/Freudian preoccupation with our mythical roots. But I don't care.  I love Fairy Tales. 

My most recent reliving of this passion was one of those '6 degrees of separation' type thingies

1) I  found a copy of the The Complete Illustrated Stories of Hans Christian Anderson (a facsimile of the 1889 translation), in Vinnies in Bega and with the wonderful illustrations by AW Bayes. Had a bit of a flick through and put it away promising to read from cover to cover (948 pages) when I had a spare moment. (please!!!)

about 2 weeks later........

2) I went to the ETA conference (for English teachers) in Sydney and did a workshop on Visual Literacy and one of the picture books studied was Anthony Brown's Into the Forest - a wonderful picture book that pastiches a number of fairy tales.

came home and ...........

3)Bought a copy of Into the Forest, promising to develop a Unit of Work for my Year 11 English class.


3) Hunted out my old copy of JC Cooper's Fairy Tales Allegories of the Inner Life. (1st year psychology 101 - 1983 -  luckily for everyone I went down the English/Philosophy route and didn't continue with 2nd year psychology 101)

A couple of months went by and....

4 ) I found three (please remember three is a very symbolic number in Fairy Tales) kids board books at a jumble sale at Tathra Country Club  and thought they would make great altered books....plonked them in the studio (as you do)  and promised to get back to them

Another couple of months go by.....

5) Making a card for a friend who loves witches and searching for a picture found an old copy of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs .............

and finally ...........
click, click click..........(yes that was my mind)
click click click....

had an epiphany (I know you don't have to say it........)

6) Ran around like a mad woman.....(I know you don't have to say......)

 Every book in the house that had any link to Fairy Tales .....Hans Christian Anderson, JC Cooper, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Classic Fairy Tales, Into the Forest, Dictionary of Symbolism, etc. etc etc.....spread out on  the dinning table, sharing my bed, in the toilet, in the car, in the classroom, in the office, staffroom....


so much for marking, prepping, cleaning, cooking, conversing with family, patting dogs, weeding weeds.....

there are so many ....and so may new ones .....the Hans Christian Anderson book is an absolute GEM.

As is the JC Cooper Fairy Tales Allegories of the Inner Life.  I love trying to find meaning in everything, maybe that is why I love Fairy Tales so much - they are so symbolic, allegorical and archetypal.  There is one chapter in the book that deals with Time and the Sleeper and starts with a discussion of the ritual opening of  of a fairy tale - Once upon a time......the purpose they suggest is to '....take the narrative out of time and into a state in which events are no longer controlled by the normal, so that ordinary standards disappear, or lose their values....."

 ...yes please.

Anyway my obsession has settled down a little ......I did manage to cook a meal and clean off the dinning room table enough for us to eat at it ........but it has focused itself in an appropriation of Snow of my all time favourites ..I love apples and I love sleeping ...and hopefully will be able to share some images and words with you soon but in the meantime it has been   ..... lovely to revisit old friends....make new connections ......and generally have a few moments of madness, and irresponsibility.

PS I still haven't read all of Hans Christian Anderson but i really enjoyed a story called The Aunt .

If you have a fairy tale you love please let know about it.

PSS please excuse my 'six degrees of separation'!!!!


  1. Now I'm not in the same obsessive basket as yourself when it comes to fairy tales, but I do acknowledge the powerful impact they've left (since first encountered as a wee one) - I had a huge volume containing mostly HCA or Brothers Grimm - but also had a monster sized collection of Little Golden Books that revisited the fairy tales (far less scary - nicer cuter children!)

    My favs included the Ugly Ducking (a nice message for a girlie who didn't feel like she fitted in or looked as gor-geous as her peers), Rapunzel (my mum insisted on hacking off my hair whenever it looked like it would reach my collar), Rumpelstiltskin and Hansel and Gretel (I've subsequently heard interpretive tales regarding this and the abandonment of children in hard times past.... interesting stuff)

    Perhaps the tale to make the biggest impact however is the Piped Piper of Hamlin.... It scared the be-jeeezus out of me and set up a life-long fear and loathing of RATS (shudder!!!!!)

    Mum gave away the huge towers of LGB back in the 1980s (boo-hiss!!!!) but I think that big book of fairy tales is still up in their cupboards somewhere (I can picture its purple and yellow cover and very early 1970s 'groovy' typeface...)

    we should have a slumber party sometime and bring our bookies!

  2. A fascinating post - I'd have loved to have seen some pictures as well, though.

    I Like The Happy Prince (was that Hans Christian Anderson or Oscar Wilde - having a blank moment...) and I absolutely love The Princess & the Goblins and The Princess & Curdie (cannot remember the author, sorry).

    Glad you love the old movies too - they don't write 'em like that any more!

  3. I adore *all* fairy tales; I can't get enough of them, and I think that's why I can watch even the cheesiest chick flick, because they're just modern fairy tales, but not as lush as traditional ones.

    If you haven't read it already, a really good contemporary yet traditional fairy tale to read is 'The Story of the Eldest Princess' from A.S. Byatt's The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye (which is a collection of 5 new fairy stories). Smashing.