I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Refined Reader (34) Fairy Tales & "Away to Whimsical Fairy Tale Land" Introduction

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,

The Refined Reader aims to take a look at the journey to where we are as readers today.  It's part history, part commentary - providing a brief, conversational summary of various aspects of our bookish past and comparing it to how it has affected us in modern times.  I love history, but I am no historian, and while I plan to do my research, if there are any errors, please let me know!  This is as much a learning venture for me as I hope it is for my blog visitors!

I'm pairing this Refined Reader post with an introduction to an event I'm co-hosting with Ana from Read Me Away that will celebrate fairy tales, so please keep reading for more information!

The history of the fairy tale is very murky.  It was largely an oral tradition so it's difficult to know just when it appeared in our consciousness.  The earliest instances of a fairy tale appear to be Aesop's tales from 6th century BC Greece and Chinese Taoist philosophers would discuss fairy tales in their ancient philosophical works.  In the 18th century there was a resurgence in popularity of these magical tales in Europe which led to a concerted effort to write them down which resulted in the collections of the Grimm Brothers and Charles Perrault.

What is a fairy tale?  This was before the genre of fantasy was conceptualized, so they generally fit into that genre, although a fairy tale is differentiated from a legend in that it is known that a fairy tale is not possibly true.  There is also an inclusion of magic or enchantments in the story and the setting is in an earlier but unidentifiable time.  There are sometimes debates over what is a fairy tale, but it is much less confused now then it was before.  Before fantasy became a genre, many early fantasy tales were labeled 'fairy tales' such as The Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, and Animal Farm.

The Aarne-Thompson classification system was developed in the 19th century to categorize folktales and fairy tales alike by common characteristics and motifs which helped to understand the spread and the culture that gave rise to specific stories.  It is interesting to think of fairy tales as reflecting cultural beliefs and moral values of a time far back in our history.  Fairy tales as an oral tradition were almost certainly intended for adults as well as children, but somewhere in our recent past fairy tales were adjusted and toned down as entertainment for children.

Wikipedia / Wikipedia
A Study of Fairy Tales

Away to Whimsical Fairy Tale Land Introduction

The idea to host a fairy tale event came from Ana's review of Philip Pullman's reworking of Grimm Fairy Tales and to have an event that analyzes the fairy tale and it's meaning and retellings.  Which I was all for because I love fairy tales and delving into it's history.  (By the way do you notice the clever inclusion of both of our blog names for the event title?? That was all Ana! :D  As was creating the wonderful event banner!)

With this event, we would like each participant to select any fairy tale they like - it can be a favorite one, or one that you would like to become familiar with.  In my case I looked at what retelling I would really like to read, and I picked the fairy tale associated with that.  But I was so close to choosing The Little Mermaid though because of my love for the Disney film!

When you read your fairy tale, especially if it is one you know well, try to think of it in it's historical context.  What kind of people would hear that story?  What might it mean for them?  Was it just for enjoyment?  Or did it have a lesson?  And think about how meaningful the fairy tale is to you.  Once you've read your fairy tale, you can read/watch/listen to any kind of retelling(s) related to it.  And examine what it changes and if it is true to the emotion or intention of the original.  This event is also just to meet and talk to other fans of fairy tales, so I hope you are able to visit other bloggers' posts and see what they are up to.  There will be a link up post every day on our blogs!

The Guidelines:

  • The event is a week long, from March 2nd to March 8th
  • Every participant picks a fairy tale to read and review, along with a retelling or two (or more! of any format - book/movie/TV show) to compare to the original.
  • Every day of the week-long event will have a specific topic to write on, but it's not mandatory to participate every day - just do what you are interested in doing!
  • There will be a link-up post on Ana's and my blogs every day so we can visit each other's posts and see what everyone is doing.
  • We will have a twitter chat on the weekend and a giveaway in the end to thank all the participants!

The Schedule:

  • Monday (March 2) : Introduction post and questions for participants:

    • What is the fairy tale you picked?
    • Why did you pick your fairy tale of choice?
    • Why do you love fairy tales? Why did you decide to participate in this event?
    • What are some of your favorite fairy tales?

  • Tuesday (March 3): The Original Fairy Tale:

    • Review/Share your thoughts on the original Tale
    • Talk about the history of the fairy tale - where did it come from?  What is the tale's place in history and did it have an influence in the tale?  What was purpose of the fairy tale - did it teach a lesson or incorporate a moral?  Is there anything we could learn from it?
    • A great resource for looking up individual fairy tales is SurLaLune and of course there is Wikipedia!

  • Wednesday (March 4): Retellings Galore!

    • Now it's time to talk about the retellings - what did you think of them?  How do they compare to the original?  Do you feel like it is a good retelling?  Why?

  • Thursday (March 5): Discussion Questions:

    • There are two choices for discussion topics: 
      • What do you like to see in retellings?/What makes it good or bad?
      • Or read and discuss a lesser known fairy tale:
        • Click here for a list of some lesser known tales with links to read them online.  These are just suggestions, so it's fine to pick another you know of to review and discuss.

  • Friday (March 6) Funtimes!:

    • This is a free-for-all discussion day!  Talk about anything fairy tale related you would like!  Maybe a movie, TV show, or a webcomic that somehow relates to fairy tales. Like Once Upon a Time? Post about it and gush about your favorites! Know somewhere with lovely fairy tale drawings or crafts? Share it with us!

  • Saturday (March 7) Twitter Chat:

    • Ana and I will be hosting a twitter chat for an hour, with some trivia questions where the winner will get extra entries into our giveaways! 
    • Twitter hashtag: #AWFairyTale
    • Please check out the poll below and give us what times would be best for you.

  • Sunday (March 8) Wrap-up and Giveaway:

    • Ana and I will be posting final thoughts on the event and each hosting a giveaway for a choice of one of three fairy-tale related books.  I haven't yet decided all the books I'll be offering for the giveaway, but I know "Fairest" by Marissa Meyer will be one of them!
As you can see it will be a full week of fairy tale fun, so I hope you will join us!  And now for the sign-up - we have a google doc form because we plan to send out reminder emails, and this would be an easier way to get them all together.

Whether or not you are able to join us for the event, please share in the comments -
What is your favorite fairy tale?  And what is your favorite fairy tale retelling?

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