I'm sorry I didn't see this until about half an hour after the opportunity was over, and I didn't want to just add this to the round-up list, but yes: Maria Tatar was on the pop culture 'n' more news site iO9, answering every question, no matter how strange, with tact, aplomb and a solid dose of good humor.
Here's the announcement from Thursday:
Maria Tatar is the translator of the newly discovered trove of fairytales, lost for over a century, but just recently uncovered. Ask her all your questions about , the history of fairytales and folklore, and anything else you want to know!Tatar will be joining us today from noon - 1:00 p.m. (Pacific time), so start asking her all your questions now about the history of fairytales, where these new fairytales fit in with the tradition, and what these stories mean to us today.Although I don't really have too many questions on Schonwerth yet as I have yet to do more than skim the book, I'm sure I would have thought of something! But it's great to be there live as regular people are asking questions on fairy tales. That doesn't happen too often!
Here are a few exchanges that I thought you guys might find interesting:
Ria Misra: The Turnip PrincessTatar: I've touched on some of the differences between Grimm and Schönwerth already, so I'll focus on the question of the "softening process." When the Grimms published their collection, they came under much critical fire for publishing stories that were "crude" and "vulgar." One reviewer was outraged by the story of Hans Dumm, who makes women pregnant by looking at them. The Grimms quickly dropped that story from their collection in part because they found that by making the volume more appealing to parents, they sold more books. Schönwerth never refashioned his stories, and he gives us a story in which a fellow eats dumplings and then makes a mess outdoors. Then there is the king's bodyguard, who gets the king's daughter pregnant. I imagine that these stories will expand the folkloric canon, and in some cases they will be watered down, in other cases intensified and made even more explosive. Neil Gaiman once said that a fairy tale is like a "loaded gun"—and that's why I use the term "explosive." You can always blow up a fairy tale, blow it up in both senses of the term.
|Sketchnotes for "The Great Cauldron of Story" with Maria Tatar by On Being|
The Homework Ogre: In terms of original fairy tales, the one thing that everybody seems to know is that they were once much more violent — wicked stepmother dances to death in red-hot iron shoes, kids waste away and die together under a tree, stepsisters mutilate themselves to fit the slipper, etc. etc. — and have since been "sanitized" for the consumption of kids. I'm sure the stories in this collection are no less grim (har har); how do you feel about the bowlderization of folk tales?Tatar: I'm completely irreverent when it comes to fairy tales. There's nothing sacred about these stories. No one really owns them, and we should be able make them our own in mash-ups, remixes, and adaptations. It's important to preserve the historical record, and that's why I am so deeply invested in the work of the Grimms, Charles Perrault, and Schönwerth. But why should we read stories from the early nineteenth-century to our children today? Especially when women dance to death in red-hot iron shoes? Or a stepmother decapitates her stepson in "The Juniper Tree"? There's no reason not to create our own zany versions, and, if you look at picture books about Little Red Riding Hood, you see that we do that all the time. We are constantly recycling "Cinderella," "Snow White," and "Sleeping Beauty" for adults—in ways obvious and not so obvious. I don't necessarily like every new version, but I do love to talk about it. What did the writer or filmmaker get right? Where did they go wrong?
Silver Marmoset: In a class I'm currently taking on fairy tales, we've discussed where the Grimms' fairy tales came from geographically (apparently Italy). But have you any idea where the fairy tale motifs themselves came from? As in, what ideas or time periods gave rise to the idea of ogres, talking animals, and magic as story fodder?Thank you!Tatar: literary
what do you think the modern equivalent of fairy tales are? do you think any of the stories current society creates have taken the place or fairytale? or do we still form these types of stories and pass them around?Tatar: Hanna Hard Candy Freeway, The Company of Wolves. Vogue Gilmore GirlsAs you can see, there's a lot to chew on here! (I had to stop myself from adding more.) You can read the whole Q&A HERE, though you might want to make yourself a very large cup of tea. Once you start, it's hard to stop reading.