Critical and Creative Perspectives on Fairy Tales: An Intertextual Dialogue Between Fairy-Tale Scholarship and Postmodern Retellings

Joosen, Vanessa. Critical and Creative Perspectives on Fairy Tales: An Intertextual Dialogue Between Fairy-Tale Scholarship and Postmodern Retellings. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2011. Pp. 376, notes, works cited, index. $29.95 paper.

 Brittany Warman
The Ohio State University

 Critical and Creative Perspectives on Fairy Tales: An Intertextual Dialogue Between Fairy-Tale Scholarship and Postmodern Retellings by Vanessa Joosen is a unique contribution to fairy-tale scholarship that moves beyond standard ideas about intertextuality, expanding the concept to include academic texts. In well-written, clear prose, Joosen posits contemporary retellings of fairy tales have been extensively influenced by academic studies that have engaged with the fairy tale form, both knowingly and unknowingly (17), and that fairy tale retellings frequently reinterpret and analyze traditional fairy tales in the same way that criticism does (2). She stresses that this interaction is “an intertextual dialogue in the truest sense” (3), that fairy-tale criticism and fairy-tale retellings are involved in a constant back and forth conversation.

Continue reading “Critical and Creative Perspectives on Fairy Tales: An Intertextual Dialogue Between Fairy-Tale Scholarship and Postmodern Retellings”

The Life and Times of Ray Hicks: The Keeper of the Jack Tales

Salsi, Lynn. The Life and Times of Ray Hicks: Keeper of the Jack Tales. Knoxville: University of Tennessee, 2008. $34.95.  Print.

Daniel Allar
Indiana University

Lynn Salsi’s The Life and Times of Ray Hicks: The Keeper of the Jack Tales is a biography of Ray Hicks, a master storyteller from Banner Elk, North Carolina. Hicks farmed in the Appalachian Mountains his entire life, and the “Jack Tales” referred to in the title of this book were passed down through his family in that area. He had very little money his entire life, worked from sunup to sundown just to keep his family fed, and spent most of his free time telling the stories he had learned from his grandfather or playing the French harp (harmonica). Although the book is basically a rundown of some of the most important aspects and events in Hicks’s life, some reoccurring themes emerge. For example, Hicks was very proud of the fact that he stayed home, cared for his mother, and was not bound by material items. Hicks was also proud… that he was the “true” holder of the “Jack Tales,” which were stories featuring a poor character from the mountains—Jack—who behaved much the way Hicks did. In fact Hicks repeatedly claimed that he and Jack were the same person. Continue reading “The Life and Times of Ray Hicks: The Keeper of the Jack Tales”

Marvelous Geometry: Narrative and Metafiction in Modern Fairy Tale

Jessica Tiffin. Marvelous Geometry: Narrative and Metafiction in Modern Fairy Tale. Detriot: Wayne State University Press, 2009. 253pp. $29.95, bibliographical references and index  (pbk.  Alk: paper).

Shana Stockton
Indiana University

Marvelous Geometry is a book on literary adaptations of traditional fairy tale forms, and while useful to a folklorist with a literary background, seems to be mainly intended for people with a literary focus, and an interest in folklore and fairy tales. This is not strictly a folklore text, and gives background on folklore scholarship for those unfamiliar with the field. Said background is handled admirably, and this book would be useful for anyone studying literary fairy tales, feminist reinterpretations of fairy tales, popular reinterpretations of fairy tales, or anything along that line. Continue reading “Marvelous Geometry: Narrative and Metafiction in Modern Fairy Tale”

The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales

Balázs, Béla. The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales. Trans. Jack Zipes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010. Pp. ix+177. Illus., two appendices, bibliography. $24.95 hardcover.

Brittany Warman
The Ohio State University

The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales is a collection of literary fairy tales penned by the Hungarian author, film critic, filmmaker, and political activist Béla Balázs in the early 20th century. A complex man who experienced great suffering and isolation, Balázs was able to find comfort and beauty in the fairy tale form and often turned to it throughout his life. These particular tales were written in response to a collection of odd and often unsettling illustrations done in a Chinese style by the artist Mariette Lydis – Balázs produced what would become Der Mantel der Träume: Chinesische Novellen (The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales) in 1922. This new translation is by prominent fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes and part of his new series entitled “Oddly Modern Fairy Tales.” As such, this edition includes introductions to both the author and the illustrator, two appendices – one an early and very positive review by Thomas Mann and the other an additional, earlier Taoist-inspired fairy tale by Balázs – and a bibliography. Continue reading “The Cloak of Dreams: Chinese Fairy Tales”

Fairy Tale Films: Visions of Ambiguity

Greenhill, Pauline and Sidney Eve Matrix, ed. Fairy Tale Films: Visions of Ambiguity. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2010. p. xiii + 263. List of tale types, bibliography, filmography, index. paper $24.95; ebook $20.00

Lydia Bringerud
Indiana University

This book is a collection of ten essays by a variety of scholars centering on how Western European fairy tales continue to play a role in contemporary North America through film. There is a foreword by Jack Zipes and an introduction by editors Pauline Greenhill and Sidney Eve Matrix. Translating a fairy tale into cinema always involves interpretation, and the essays in this book offer criticism of those interpretations, ranging from how Disney removes fairy tales from their original contexts to propagate a specific value system to how Tim Burton twists the expected fairy tale plotline to present a new value system. Continue reading “Fairy Tale Films: Visions of Ambiguity”

Sandra L. Beckett. Red Riding Hood for All Ages: A Fairy-Tale Icon in Cross-Cultural Contexts.

Sandra L. Beckett. Red Riding Hood for All Ages: A Fairy-Tale Icon in Cross-Cultural Contexts. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2008. Pp. ix+244, color prints, index. $29.95, paper.

Sara Cleto
George Mason University

Sandra L Beckett’s book, Red Riding Hood for All Ages: A Fairy-Tale Icon in Cross-Cultural Contexts, provides an indepth and informative critique of retellings of a familiar fairy tale. This is Beckett’s second book on Little Red Riding Hood retellings; her first volume, Recycling Red Riding Hood, was devoted to contemporary revisions intended for children. Red Riding Hood for All Ages, however, has a wider scope, addressing retellings targeted at children, adolescents, and adults, as well as crossover works intended for more than one age group. Continue reading “Sandra L. Beckett. Red Riding Hood for All Ages: A Fairy-Tale Icon in Cross-Cultural Contexts.”

Rama for Beginners: Bridging Indian Folk and Comics Cultures

Rama for Beginners:  Bridging Indian Folk and Comics Cultures

Jeremy Stoll
Indiana University

Abstract:

In the boom of recent comics scholarship, the comic art of India has received little attention compared to that of other nations, the United States, France, and Japan in particular. Through a basis in religious and folk narratives, Indian comics narratives, especially those published by the Amar Chitra Katha series, have worked to update folk tales, retelling them in a modern medium. By looking at the figure of Rama in the Amar Chitra Katha and other Indian comics, this paper will analyze the process and implications of this transformation. In particular, the analysis of Rama as contemporary hero will reveal how these stories help people to deal with daily life at the same time that they affirm another, older way of understanding the world. This paper will thus demonstrate how comics creators in India have adapted the comic book to effectively re-maneuver traditional tales as a modern, folkloric inheritance to future generations.     Continue reading “Rama for Beginners: Bridging Indian Folk and Comics Cultures”