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Modern fairy tales

Err, yes:

In Hansel and Greta (note the name change), Winterson gives us children in despair at the destruction of their forest to make way for a railway line. The antagonist is a nasty aunt called GreedyGuts, who says that “the point of life is to eat as much as possible, make as much money as possible, go on holiday as much as possible … buy two new cars every year, a jacuzzi in the garden, and a Luxury Level Executive Home… ” Hansel and Greta, of course, triumph, plant trees, and all is right with the world.

In Solnit’s Cinderella Liberator, meanwhile, the eponymous heroine and the prince decide to be friends, and she opens her own cake shop, above which she houses hungry, frightened children “running away from the wars in other kingdoms”.

How strikingly imaginative.

And now to reveal the actual secret of fairy tales:

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

15 thoughts on “Modern fairy tales”

  1. ” he antagonist is a nasty aunt called GreedyGuts, ” – if H&G weren’t greedy a gingerbread house doesn’t make any sense.

  2. How did gingerbread ever get approved as a building material? Doesn’t it have the same effect as flammable cladding? Was the inspector bribed? People should be told!

    Seems to me the economics and Elfin Safety of Fairy Tales are seriously deficient. No wonder the kiddies grow up to believe in Corbyn’s magic money trees and farting unicorns keeping the lights on.

    What stopped H&G from being abducted by the local minicab firm? Perhaps a more topical retelling could be interesting…

  3. Rhiannon says “A new collection of rejigged tales gets much closer to the spirit of these stories than the ‘traditional’ versions we’re force-fed”

    If all we know are the traditional versions, how is it possible for Rhiannon to conceive that the spirit of these stories is not conveyed by these versions? Illogical, captain, as Spock would have said before he went woke.

    In any event, most of these stories exist in several versions. Which one is the “truth” is not a relevant question. It’s like trying to work out what actually happened at the siege of Troy or writing Helen’s biography

  4. I’m sure Jeanette Winterson lives in a small council house with a gas meter she has to feed with pound coins.

  5. The best Winterton story was the one she told about, when she was a poor starving author, she used to work as a Lesbian escort for middle-class housewives who used to pay her with Le Creuset pans.

    It’s a better story than anything else she has written

  6. It’s hardly Struwwelpeter, **that’s** a book for children. My partner used to quote from it from time to time, and I eventually found a 25th anniversary copy for her birthday. Jaw dropping would be one word to describe it. The bit with the fingers is particularly graphic.

  7. The bit with the fingers is particularly graphic.

    Best is the resigned reaction of Mamma: “I knew he’d come to naughty little Suck-a-Thumb!”

  8. What stopped H&G from being abducted by the local minicab firm? Perhaps a more topical retelling could be interesting…

    Interesting, and probably a hate crime…

  9. re Looking for the true spirit
    Original fairy tales were cautionary and rarely had a happy ending. The Grimm brothers tidied them up and took the horror out so as not to scare the adults.

  10. It’s great to see an African woman an Asian woman and a Jewish woman – alongside a token European woman – re-writing European stories for, presumably, European children.

    I’m sure they all have the best interests of Europeans at heart….

  11. “I was raised by Disney to believe that I needed a 22-inch waist and a prince with a castle to truly get by in life”

    You’re 32, you don’t have a mortgage, or children. You’re working in a dying industry and your book is at #290,000 in the Amazon Kindle chart. At some point, when your platinum membership comes in from Cat of the Month club, you might start thinking maybe Disney had a point.

  12. @Phillip

    “The Grimm brothers tidied them up and took the horror out so as not to scare the adults.”

    I thought the original Grimm tales were plenty dark and only bowdlerized and made less scary in subsequent editions.

  13. A 22″ inch waist is quite possible for a women of average female height with no stomach muscles: it’s the prince that is difficult when most countries are republics as she would need to out-compete 50 million other women per prince (if you want an Heir apparent it’s well over 100 million) – Rhiannon just isn’t in that league.

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