The Challenge of Retelling Grimms' Fairy Tales

Go hither ye and read the amazing article by Philip Pullman (yes, THAT Philip Pullman, of The Dark Materials trilogy) in The Guardian: The Challenge of Retelling Grimm's Fairy Tales.
     It's to celebrate his new book, FAIRY TALES FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM (A New English Version), in which he has retold 50 Grimms' tales.
     Here's a most elegant quote:
"I believe that every story is attended by its own sprite, whose voice we embody when we tell the tale, and that we tell it more successfully if we approach the sprite with a certain degree of respect and courtesy."
     Just as I've been so fascinated by Jack Tales throughout my life, Mr. Pullman has obviously been fascinated with Grimms' Fairy Tales, their origins and evolution. Just as my new non-fiction manuscript (which I'm just starting to submit to publishing houses), "The Story of Jack: The Evolution of Storytelling via the Jack Tales," goes into the history of Jack Tales, Mr. Pullman delves into the history of the Grimms' Tales.
     I find the evolution of stories fascinating. Hence my recent research trip to Virginia and North Carolina to track down the origins of Jack Tales. I even have a manuscript (which I haven't sent to anybody because for years the publishing houses have said 'no folk tales') adapting a Jack Tale adaptation of the German "Bremen Town Musicians" which later became "Jack and the Highway Robbers," which I now tell as "Jack and the Big Bad Bull." So many of the stories we tell are evolved from stories told hundreds of years ago. As Mr. Pullman says,
There have been many, and there will be many more, versions of these tales that are brimful of their author's own dark obsessions, or brilliant personality, or political passions. The tales can stand it.
     I don't know why these stories hold my passion so strongly, or the passion of all society for that matter. Perhaps they ring true to us, remind us of home, remind us of being human. I find it ironic that the stories that have held us together for so long are, in our modern society, intended for children. Again, to quote Mr. Pullman, quoting the great pianist Artur Schnabel when talking about the sonatas of Mozart:
"they are too easy for children and too difficult for adults."

1 comment:

Sarah Lamstein said...

Wonderful, Elizabeth! Thank you!!