Monday, February 29, 2016

Disney's BATB Concept Art

Disney's Beauty and the Beast Concept Art
Source: Mickey and Company
Part 1 and Part 2

Those creepy huge gargoyle statues! And the red rose in the gloomy West Wing! So atmospheric...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Beast by Brie Spangler

Beast by Brie Spangler, expected out this October, promises to be a very unique retelling of Beauty and the Beast!

Book description:

"Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?"

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Matthew Grabelsky's "Anomaly" Series

This series of paintings by Matthew Grabelsky imagines fantastic and fairy tale characters in the modern world. There are more paintings not included here because they are less directly related to fairy tales, but interesting and relevant if you're interested.

"In the vein of the TV show „Once Upon a Time“ or the graphic novel series „Fables“, Matthew Grabelsky‘s oil paintings show a wide variety of mythical and fairy tale creatures in the modern world. The painting style and locations are extremely realist, but the characters and situations are surreal, which is an absolutely interesting combination. They show a mix of humans, animals, and anthropomorphic characters and many of these paintings feature human/beast couples. Seeing these creatures alongside people is both comical and cool."

Some of the paintings aren't necessarily inspired by a specific fairy tale (that I'm aware of) but the animal/human couples remind me of Animal Bridegroom tales:

And this looks like it could be inspired by Little Red Riding Hood:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Snow White by P.J. LynchI find the history of mirrors kind of fascinating (nerd alert), but especially because it does have an impact on certain fairy tales and how we look at them-most notably Snow White.

It's hard for me to wrap my mind around it, but for the majority of human history, a decent mirror has been a luxury that only a few had access to. Most early mirrors were made of polished metal, so even the best ones would have dark, uneven reflections. The first glass mirrors were still "always slightly curved, and always slightly colored." Once the Venetians started mastering glass mirrors, they became an incredibly valuable commodity. The trade secrets were worth kidnapping for, as eventually happened when the French decided they needed to manufacture the luxury themselves (and as a rule, Italian mirror makers' families would be held hostage whenever they traveled, to insure loyalty).

Even when mirrors became more broadly produced, they were incredibly expensive. Most cultured ladies would have a pocket mirror that was very valuable-there is an anecdote of one lady trading a wheat field for a mirror. It was only the extreme indulgence of Louis XIV that pushed mirror makers to discover a way to make mirrors larger, and thus create the famed Hall of Mirrors.

The majority of humans in history would have only seen reflections of themselves in smooth surfaces, such as water. It's no surprise that in many versions of Snow White, the evil Queen does not ask a mirror to proclaim the fairest of them all, but other objects of nature, such as the sun or moon, or even an animal such as an eagle or trout. It makes more sense to imagine a woman, in a world in which you could never really see what you look like, to wonder how you compare to the other beautiful women you see, and ask someone else for their opinion. The sun, moon, or eagle would have authority to make a pretty good judgment, for they would see a great number of people as they made their way across the sky (not sure about the trout, but that's not as common).

By the time Snow White variants started featuring mirrors, they would have represented not only the Queen's narcissism, but the fact that she was extremely wealthy. I would guess that most people who couldn't afford mirrors had a sort of love/hate relationship with them-desiring one in a way, yet suspicious of the negative affects of being able to preen in front of one. I can imagine that, being able to see oneself clearly for the first time in human history would be incredibly unsettling, like we might feel if we were cloned or realized we had an identical twin.

A. W. Bayes' Snow Queen
A. W. Bayes, "The Snow Queen"

Ford Snow QueenIn fact, this suspicion of mirrors is reflected (hah!) in Anderson's "Snow Queen," which starts with a mirror that is inhabited by a demon, and distorts the reflections of everything seen in it, so that the beautiful seems vile. The shard that becomes lodged in Kay's eye changes his personality, causing him to be negative and cruel; eventually Gerda's love saves him and her tears wash away the piece of mirror.

Mirrors have great capacity for new boundaries in art, science, and self-reflection. Yet mirrors also have dangers, ones that we tend to take for granted, especially now that we see images of ourselves more often than ever on social media and the ubiquitous selfie. In a way, we are all now the Queen, whenever we look at a picture of ourselves and contrast our looks with others (and if we're honest, don't we all do it?). In an incredibly visually oriented world that promotes conventional beauty as the ideal, it becomes more and more difficult to avoid assigning value by physical appearance.

The History of a Mirror: Through a Glass Darkly by Stephanie Lowder
The Essence of Style by Joan deJean
Sleeping Beauty and Snow White Tales from Around the World by Surlalune

Illustrations: P.J. Lynch, John Patience, Hans Juttner, A. W. Bayes, H.J. Ford

Friday, February 19, 2016

Megan Kearney on Relationship Development in BATB

Check out this fascinating post by Megan Kearney on BATBComic on the history of Beauty and the Beast, specifically focusing on character development.
Beauty and the Beast by Pavel Tartarnikov:
Here are a couple excerpts:

"Most older variants of the story are interested in Beauty getting what she deserves —wealth, station and an appropriate mate. This makes sense, as it’s a story about a woman told by women —first at great length in Villeneuve’s novella, and then in a much shorter bowdlerized form by Beaumont. The primary concern of the story is Beauty being respectfully courted by a remarkable patient and good hearted, but ugly, individual. This is, heartbreakingly, a deeply romantic fantasy when we consider that its authors were women who had been foisted into loveless political marriages with less than kindhearted men — it’s the story of hoping the man with whom you are forced co-habitate will turn out to be a kind prince, in spite of first seeming to be an unknowable monster..."
Beauty and the Beast by Pavel Tartarnikov:
And the conclusion:
"So, in trying to sum up, traditionally Beauty and the Beast has been a story about a young woman’s journey to accepting an unconventional male partner. In the twentieth century, it become a popular metaphor for the awakening of female sexuality and power. Now, more and more, we see it as a metaphor for the channeling of negative masculinity into positive masculinity. The story evolves. We pull new meaning from it, stretch it this way and that, examine it in the mirror, and take it apart to see how it ticks. It changes to suit our cultural needs, and it will continue to change."
Beauty and the Beast by Pavel Tartarnikov:
Illustrations by Pavel Tatarnikov Tales of Faerie turns six! A sincere thank you to all of you who have helped me on my journey to learning more about fairy tales!
Absolutely amazing fairy tale cake!:
cake image

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Last weekend the Chicago Tribune had an article on fairy tale castles that Tony pointed out to me. This is hardly a unique thing-the internet/magazines and travel articles are full of lists of beautiful castles, but it got me wondering: why are they always called "fairy tale castles?" Very few of them ever have associations with fairy tales (with the exception of maybe the Neuschwanstein and the one featured here), yet the mere fact that they are castles means that we throw the term "fairy tale" in front of them. Sure, castles are featured in fairy tales, but so are tiny peasants' huts, and you don't see lists of "fairy tale pauper homes."
Neuschwanstein Castle in winter

The article's introduction reads, "True love and happily-ever-afters are the stuff of which fairy tales are made, so why not give your romantic getaway a storybook feel with a stay at a castle?"

I wonder, is this just an American thing? Castles are such a fascination to us because we have so few around here, and relatively little history. In Europe castles are just part of the landscape, and part of the history; it's where rulers and rich people used to live. It would be sort of like if, in the future, people were making lists of enchanted state capitals to visit. (There are tours of mansions, but you don't usually see people advertising them as being "magical" or associating them with fairy tales).
Yet one castle that does have fairy tale associations is the Sababurg, or Sleeping Beauty Castle. The Castle itself is not far from where the brothers Grimm lived. Terri Colby states in the article that "It had been in disrepair for many years and was hidden by shrubbery in the early 1900s when locals began calling it the Sleeping Beauty Castle of Brothers Grimm fame...These days the fairy tale is celebrated, with actors dressed as Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming telling the story of their love. It's not too kitschy, largely because this is a genuine castle with real history."
So I guess that's all we can hope for in a fairy tale reenactment in a historical castle-"not too kitschy."

Still, if a trip to Germany and a stay here were anywhere within our travel budget, I'd go there in a heartbeat. Anyone been here/have more info?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Roses in Fairy Tales: Beauty's Request

Roses are often associated with "Beauty and the Beast," whether people are familiar with the tales in which Beauty requests a rose from her father which he finds in the Beast's garden, or the Disney one that signals the end of the period in which the Beast's curse can be ended. People have found different meanings in the classic fairy tale's rose; it is generally thought to represent Beauty's character, since she appreciates nature and is not vain and materialistic like her sisters. Yet it's ironic, because the dresses and jewelry her sisters request are actually practical and will last a long time; flowers, especially roses, are beautiful for a few days and then fade.

Bowley's Beauty and the BeastI've even seen it argued that Beauty's request for a rose in the middle of winter means that she is giving her father an impossible request, but in the Villeneuve version it's made clear that her request is made in the summer and her father was simply on a very long journey. ( Yet, in the Italian "Zelinda and the Monster," the request is made in January, and the other sisters' requests were easily found, so it seemed this Beauty was more demanding and less practical).

It's also interesting to look at folktale versions of BATB from around the world in Surlalune's collection. Some stories don't even have the episode with the request.

In some, Beauty's request is there to emphasize her wisdom and restraint. Like Villeneuve, who tells us that Beauty realized her father may not be left with much money after paying off his debts, Beauty requests something she thinks will be cheap and easy to find; the heroine in an Italian version states, "this is not the time to spend money, and I love flowers." In most versions, Beauty initially requests nothing, saying she only wants her father to come back safely and/or in good health; but he presses her, for he wants to get her something. In the Italian "Bellindia," both the father and her sisters think her foolish for only requesting a rose tree. In this tale, it seems that money really is no longer a problem, and Bellindia could have had anything she wanted-her father later feels "no inclination to comply with Bellindia's wish."

Bowley's Beauty and the BeastSuch a request, naturally, makes her sister jealous, and later on when the Beast demands their father's life, the sisters bring it back to Beauty, claiming that her request was made only to set herself apart and now put her father's life in danger. Although they're being unfair, given the nature of sibling relationships, I would suspect there was at least a tiny bit of Beauty that found satisfaction in being a "better person" than her sisters...

Some Beauties don't ask for roses, although the majority of them do. In the Spanish "Lily and the Bear", the youngest daughter asks for a lily, saying, "We have many roses in our garden but I have never had a lily." (Interestingly, her eldest sister asks for a rose-colored dress).

In the Portuguese "Maiden and the Beast," this daughter is so emphatic that her father not buy her anything, she asks for that which does not exist-"a slice of roach off a green meadow" (?)-yet the supernatural beast is able to provide her father with...whatever that order to demand that she be brought to him. In most versions, it's really the Beast who manipulates an innocent request into getting a potential date-although to be fair, he's pretty short on options. (The Villeneuve once again explains this away, and we are told that being threatened with her life before coming is the only way a woman can actually break the Beast's spell. It's a pretty complex curse.)

Whatever we may read into Beauty's request, it's usually essential to the story to simply bring her and the Beast together at some point. It shows that Beauty is different from her sisters and connects her to the Beast.

Illustrations by A. L. Bowley

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Interview with Chantal Gadoury, Allerlieurah Author

Being a fairy tale blogger has led to some incredible opportunities, and recently one of them has been dialoguing with an author who has recently released a novel version of Allerleirauh (also known as Donkeyskin/Thousandfurs/All-Kinds-of-Fur), Chantal Gadoury. The book is available in Kindle version and paperback (and is currently free if you have Kindle Unlimited!). It's a refreshingly different (and gutsy!) fairy tale to turn into novel form. Given the dark material of incest and rape, it's for a more mature reader.

Chantal was also kind enough to answer some of the questions I had!

Tales of Faerie: What drew you to the story of Allerleirauh?
Chantal Gadoury: Well, it really started when I was little. My Dad had bought me a VHS with a bunch of cartoons on it, and one at the end was called “The Coat of Many Colours.” It was a fairy tale that stuck with me - probably more because of the magical and beautiful gowns the Princess wore. I loved the tale, how she had this very complex relationship with the Prince; a secret identity and then who she really was. As I got older, and found the real version of the story . . I think I always just kept it on the back burner for a future project. Something that I would try to tackle someday. 

Arthur Rackham's Cap O'Rushes
TOF: What was your research process like?
CG:My research for this novel wasn’t too hard. I watched the cartoon a few times. Tried to find the German live action version of the story - and really watched a few other shows here and there to get the life style - develop the setting and the places I wanted the story to be located at. It was relatively a lot easier than “Seven Seeds of Summer” where-as I did a lot of Greek Myth research, and did a lot of Google-Map searches for locations; buildings - etc. 

TOF: I imagine it was hard to write the incest scene. What was that like, as an author?: 
CG: It was hard, as you can imagine. It was really hard to do. At first I wasn't even sure if I should or wanted to go forward with it. My fiance, who was reading along with everything as I was writing, and I even had a discussion about writing liberties and "pressing the envelope." I wasn't sure if it would be better to leave it to the reader's imagination, or paint the scene, so that it would be all the more vivid and painful. Rob (my fiance) told me that if I was going to write something like this, "go big or go home." 

Arthur Rackham's CatskinFor me as an author, I tried to be very careful in how much description I used. I didn't want to glorify the situation, but I wanted to show the uncomfortable-ness of Aurelia and what was happening to her. It had to be something that we, as the readers, felt - and would carry through the book until the end. As I look back, I know I listened to one song in particular (and it's really odd that I did - which was a Cover of "Earned It.") but didn't do any research in the matter. I took fear and what I would imagine as a terrifying experience for any person in Aurelia's situation. It was uncomfortable to complete, and I know afterwards, I was really unsure of the scene and if I should keep it in. I know rape/incest scenes can really deter readers from a book - but a huge part of the fairy tale of "Allerleirauh" is a Father who desires his daughter, and actively pursues her as a bride. With marriage, sexual consummation and child-bearing is a big factor in an older Royal marriage. I took a lot of inspiration from King Henry VIII (and 'The Tudors') when it came to the King and the Kingdom of Tranen. If you know your history, you'll see similarities. 

I knew when I wrote this novel, I wanted to press the boundaries - I wanted to be awareness to this reality. These things have happened and continue to happen in our present world. It was an uncomfortable necessity. 

TOF: What's next for you? Any new projects in the works (especially fairy tale retellings?)
Arthur Rackham's The True SweetheartCG: I guess what's next for me is to keep writing. I have an idea of a novel I'd like to write, non-fairy tale related though. It's more of a novel based on some things I've gone through as a young adult - love, loosing love, loosing my Father in a sudden heart attack - trying to fight through depression and finding myself. I'd love to tackle another Fairy Tale though. I just need to find a story that I feel passionate enough about, and a new way of telling the fairy tale - in the way I had with "Allerleirauh." 

It's hard to take a fairy tale that everyone knows and loves and live up to the expectations they might already have for it, because they've heard it so many times. You can't write a story about "Cinderella," for example, without her glass slippers. Nor, "Beauty and the Beast" without a rose. It's a little easier to have a story that isn't well known and sort of make it your own. I took the liberties of doing that with "Allerleirauh," and tried to give the Princess more of an equal experience with her Prince, rather than the typical "servant in the palace" scenario. 

I want to write a fairy tale, but make it new and original. I've thought about "Snow White and Rose Red," or "The Frog Prince" or "Toads and Diamonds." I'd love to take a dark story and bring an element of light and hope to it, and a twist of a happy ending. I suppose I'd ask, are there any suggestions to Fairy Tales that haven't been used, that one would wish to see? 

Illustrations by Arthur Rackham

Thanks, Chantal! It's always fascinating to get an author's perspective. Readers, I'd also love to hear what lesser known fairy tales you'd like to have retold!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Roses in Fairy Tales: Snow White

Reminds me of President Snow:

When I posted on roses last year, Gypsy of Once Upon a Blog reminded me that roses are also very significant in the history of "Snow White", and referred me to Kate Forsyth's fabulous post on Snow White.

There's a 9th century Norse saga that includes the tale of "Snow Beauty." A king's beautiful wife died, but  her cheeks remained rosy. He became obsessed with the idea that she would come back to life, and neglected his kingly duties, sitting by her side. When his councillor finally suggested he allow them to change the bedclothes, they lifted the body up, "a rank smell of rotting rose with her, the body turned blue, and worms and adders and frogs and toads crawled out. So she was burned, and the King returned to his wits."

In Basile's "The Young Slave" (published 1634), arguably the oldest literary version of Snow White, the mother became pregnant with Snow White after swallowing a rose petal.
Snow White by JDarnell

In the first version of "Snow White" that the Grimms collected (in 1808), there is no hunstman, but the Queen sends the girl into the forest to collect roses and abandons her there. (This is in the Grimms' earlier manuscripts, but by the first edition of tales in 1812 the story had become the version we have now with the huntsman).

I wonder why we've lost all associations with roses and Snow White in our current versions? I found it hard to find any images of Snow White with roses for this post, despite the general association of Princesses with pretty flowers. The stark color contrasts of red and white featured in "Snow White" do recall common rose shades to mind, such as in the fairy tale "Snow White and Rose Red." In that tale, the different shades represent the two sisters and their contrasting personalities.

Another interesting tale for comparison is "The Snow, the Crow, and the Blood." Though it  is more similar to Twelve Dancing Princesses than Snow White, it starts off with the motif of a Prince who sees the color combination of white, black, and red and decides he must have a bride of that coloring. Later in that tale, the enchanted princess shows the hero a rosebush-there were three hundred and sixty five rose bushes; all of them had a victim's head as the flower except one, and the Princess told Jack she hoped to have his head on the last rosebush.

It seems that roses, despite being the cliche and overly romantic flower we think of now, often had a history of being very morbid in fairy tales, especially those related to Snow White.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fairytale Love by Leanne French

Found an unusual book but it's rather appropriate with Valentine's Day approaching, Fairytale Love: How to Love Happily Ever After by Leanne French.
"With pessimistic divorce and break-up statistics climbing faster than a magic beanstalk, who doesn't want to believe in happily ever after? Fairytale Love presents a playful yet powerful relationship self-help guide that seeks to help you optimistically unlock the secrets of forever after, using inspirational solutions and accessible advice. Fairytales can awaken your creativity, enliven your imagination, and direct your attention to common human conditions and traits of character. They can also entertain, empower, and inspire you to really look at your own ways of thinking and behaving when faced with struggles and triumph. Relying on the positive psychology provided in Fairytale Love, you can find the keys to single-handedly transform your relationship into a more passionate, resilient one. This guide - reveals eighty-eight successful, love-enriching secrets; - awakens self-care and fosters charming ways of being; - puts you in charge of creating your own fulfilling love story; - delivers uplifting, fun ways to treasure each other; and - offers playful, distinctive strategies that increase respect, reduce beastly debates, and make it possible for you to love happily ever after."
Beauty and the Beast Boyle Image 10
Eleanor Vere Boyle, "Beauty and the Beast"

It's gotten 5 star reviews on Amazon...all two of them (and one of them has the same last name as the author). I've become rather skeptical of amazon reviews anyway but I do find the idea interesting, and wonder what fairy tale examples French uses-one reviewer says "the author relates fairy tales to real life issues and topics with both humor and wisdom".

In the fairy tale world there's a lot of disillusionment with the whole idea of "happily ever after," especially the implied "happily ever after=marriage." The disillusionment is understandable, but with our dark and cynical retellings I think it's important to remember that there really are such thing as happy, healthy marriages, even despite all the broken relationships we witness-and I believe those relationships are very much worth fighting for.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Gordon Laite Fairy Tale Illustrations

Some eye candy for your Thursday, courtesy of illustrator Gordon Laite (1925-1978)


Beauty and the Beast

Wild Swans

Snow White and Rose Red