Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Return to the Fairy Tales

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." —Albert Einstein

I love this quote, probably because I love fairy tales. I don't know if what Mr. Einstein said is necessarily true; I don't find myself genius level. But I can be darn creative sometimes. And reading to kids is a brain booster. Anyway...

Now and then I return to the "real" fairy tales, especially after seeing a number of animated ones. I love the movies but I like returning to the source. Did you know that in the story Rapunzel, she puts her hair on a window hook before sending it down for the witch and the prince to climb up? (The animated movie has her do that and I didn't even remember). You probably remember that in the original story the king's son ends up with his eyes being scratched out by the brambles he falls into. But do you recall that when he finds Rapunzel again, she's living in the desert with their twins? (The book says he wept "over the loss of his beloved wife," when he didn't find her in the tower...I guess the prince was authorized to perform weddings even for himself.) And the dwarfs' cottage was not a mess when Snow White found it "but neater and cleaner than words can tell." The prince didn't wake her with a kiss either. As the prince's servants were carrying the coffin down the mountain they stumbled and the piece of poison apple came out of Snow White's mouth, who woke up and raised the lid of the glass coffin. Kissing came after the wedding I assume, since it doesn't mention it in the book.

The book I have is called The Twelve Dancing Princesses and Other Fairy Tales, selected by Alfred David and Mary Elizabeth Meek. It has my maiden name still in it; I bought the book for a college class. Love it! It has fairy tales from the Grimm's brothers, Perrault, Anderson, de Beaumont, Asbjornsen, Afanasiev, and a couple more. It is not a picture book. The princesses may be beautiful but some of them are cruel, until the poor soldier (or whoever) overcomes the tasks and she concedes to marry the man. (Yeah, that's what I would want, "Okay, fine. You did the impossible, so you didn't get beheaded by King Daddy. I guess I'll marry you." Make sure wife-y goes through the metal detector when she enters the bedroom, eh?) Of course, in Andersen's The Little Mermaid, the girl doesn't even get the prince, in spite of all her suffering (unlike the Disney version, every time the mermaid used her new legs, it was as if she were walking on sharp knives).

I love reading fairy tales, folk tales, myths, tall tales and legends. They're quite the adventure in short form. And I also enjoy their animated adaptations. (I think I'll go watch Hercules--among others--and then read the real thing another day.)

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