Sunday Linkage

One of the things I look forward to every Sunday is the Breakfast Links from Two Nerdy Historical Girls.  I found them when I was planning my Williamsburg trip back in 2010, and I have loved them ever since. So I’ll be sharing some of the links I enjoyed here from time to time.

Today’s linkage:

Coffeehouse signage, Colonial Williamsburg

Coffeehouse signage, Colonial Williamsburg







Day 27: Fairy Tale Poll!

OK, so now that we’ve discussed these tales, included how they’ve been changed, what version is your favorite?

Let’s have a poll!

Feel free to explain your answer  in the comments!

Day 26: Fairy Tale References in Popular Culture

As well as adaptations and re-tellings:

  • ABC’s Once Upon A Time uses characters from the Disney canon–not necessarily all fairy-tale characters (Mulan and Lancelot, for example)–and places them in the modern world. So far, some of the characters are: Belle, Rumplestiltskin (even though, to the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t shown up in a Disney movie) , Snow White and her stepmother, and her prince; Pinnochio and his father, Geppetto, and Jiminy Cricket; Maleficient; Cinderella; Captain Hook; The Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts; Hansel and Gretel; Aladdin’s genie; the Magic Mirror.
  • Disney’s Lilo and Stitch references Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling to illustrate how lost Stitch, as an alien being, feels on Earth among humans.
  • Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods has been referenced many times in this series. The stories they use are: Jack and the Beanstalk; the Grimm Brother’s Cinderella; Rapunzel; Little Red Riding Hood; and Sleeping Beauty and Snow White (tangentially). The stories are tied together using the characters of a Baker and His Wife. The Baker is actually Rapunzel’s brother, and the Witch in the story is the one who took Rapunzel from her parents after the baker’s father stole the greens from her garden. The first act covers the stories as we know them; the second part covers “what happens after the stories ended?”
  • The British film The Red Shoes uses Andersen’s story and sets it in the world of ballet.
  • Sleeping Beauty became one of the greatest ballets of all time after its premiere in Imperial Russia in the 19th century. Music by Peter I. Tchaikovsky and choreography by Petipa. The role of Princess Aurora and the Lilac Fairy are highly coveted in the dance world.
  • The film Ever After retells Cinderella as if the characters were real people in 17th century France.
  • Shrek uses many fairy tale characters, including Puss-In-Boots, a Fairy Godmother, Snow White and the Dwarves, Pinnochio, and fairies.
  • The Steadfast Tin Soldier is a part of Disney’s Fantasia 2000.
  • Thumbelina was made into an animated motion picture in the 1990s.
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes  was spoofed, in a sense, by Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove.
  • The Princess and the Pea inspired the musical Once Upon A Mattress.
  • Cinderella has seen several versions in opera: Cendrillion, by Massenet, as well as a version by Rossini.
  • Joyce DiDonato as Cinderella at the Royal Opera House

  • Hansel and Gretel is also an opera, popularly performed during the holiday season as a “family” selection, since it’s in English and involves creative and funny costumes (like actors dressed up as fish in ties and tails!)

Man as fish! And scary cooks

  • The opera Rulsalka plays off Andersen’s Little Mermaid, but uses the Slavic idea of merwomen who lure men to their deaths with their music and tempting appearance  Rusalka, like the Little Mermaid, falls in love with a prince and wants to become human. She also fails in getting him to marry her, and returns to her watery world, but the prince commits suicide in order to be with her.
  • Renee Fleming as Rusalka, making her deal with the Witch


Gothic and fairy tales and epic poetry! (writing projects update)

So I’ve been a bit AWOL here, I know, but that’s because I’ve been doing 31 days over at AYOLA. 

31 days is what it sounds like…you write about a topic for 31 days (the entire month of October.) This year I decided to try this and focus on literature. First, we looked at gothic literature, then fairy tales. I’m about done with fairy tales (final post on that tomorrow) so the last four days will be other elements of Lit. 

If you’d like to read the whole series as it stands, go here. I will also post the remaining entries here as well, so on Oct. 31 you will be able to read every post!

In November, I’m going to do NaNoWriMo. Yes, my friends, this year it is going down. Right now I have a sort of tenuous plot, and characters. I’ve still got a few days to firm these things up before I start writing on the 1st. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. 

Oh, and I also was interviewed by a national magazine earlier this month! More details on that as they arise…

Day 25: What’s the difference between fairy tale and fantasy?

(NOTE: These are mostly my ideas, cribbed from my reading. I am definitely open to discussion on this!)

Fantasy grew out of fairy tales sometime during the Victorian period to become its own genre, although elements of fantasy have been around as long as there have been stories. Something like The Odyssey has very strong fantasy elements: monsters, witches, etc. 

Wendy trying to reattach Peter’s shadow

Here’s the defintion of Fantasy and its traits from Wikipedia:

is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plottheme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common. Fantasy is generally distinguished from the genre ofscience fiction by the expectation that it steers clear of scientific themes, though there is a great deal of overlap between the two, both of which are subgenres of speculative fiction

The identifying traits of fantasy are the inclusion of fantastic elements in a self-coherent (internally consistent) setting, where inspiration from mythology and folklore remains a consistent theme.[2] Within such a structure, any location of the fantastical element is possible: it may be hidden in, or leak into the apparently real world setting, it may draw the characters into a world with such elements, or it may occur entirely in a fantasy world setting, where such elements are part of the world.[3] Essentially, fantasy follows rules of its own making, allowing magic and other fantastic devices to be used and still be internally cohesive.[4]

So fantasy usually takes place in some sort of “other world”, that is not our own. Fairy tales exist in a world that we know, but a long time ago, when magic was still possible, fairies existed, etc.

Tolkein and C.S. Lewis’ works are fantasy, not fairy tale, and could even been considered allegorical. The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia follow their own internal rules, landscapes, and societies. Lewis does give us a bit of the “real world”–the London of World War II–but Narnia is completely separate from any sense of being “real world”–as in, existing with London. It’s a parallel universe. Neverland is like that as well, and so is Oz. The places that Dorothy, Wendy, Michael and John go to are real , but they don’t exist in what could be considered “our” world.

Lucy, Susan, Peter and Edmund Pevensie in Narnia

Also, these people tend to be people like us. Dorothy is just a little girl from Kansas. Wendy is a girl from London. The Pevensie children aren’t royalty or “special” in any sense of the word. Frodo is definitely quite a normal little Hobbit until Fellowship begins. As we’ve seen, in Fairy Tales, the characters are usually royal or peasants or something fantastic.

Day 24: Beauty and the Beast

We’re nearing the end of our fairy tales, and we still haven’t covered Beauty and the Beast! Why not?

Beauty the Beast, Scott Gustafson

Because it’s sort of an outlier. It’s not from any of the “big three” writers that we’ve talked about; in fact, it was written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, and published in 1740. The best known version of her work is an abridgment written by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, published in 1756, with an English translation appearing in 1757.

The plot is, once again, a bit different than the Disney version we’re familiar with:

  • Belle is the youngest of three daughters, not an only child. Her two older sisters are wicked and selfish.
  • Belle is 14 when the story opens.
  • Her father isn’t an inventor; he’s a middle-class merchant. When his business fails, he and his family lose all their money and move to a small village in the countryside, where they can rebuild their fortunes.
  • After living in their new home for awhile, news reaches the merchant that some of his fortune may be recoverable. He therefore prepares for a journey to the city to investigate. Before he leaves, he asks his daughters if there is anything they would like from town: the older girls ask for jewelry and and fine dresses, while Belle asks only for some rose seeds.
  • To the merchant’s chagrin, the money recovered is only enough to repay their debts, with nothing left over for the girls’ gifts.  Heavy-hearted, he begins the journey back to his daughters, only to become lost in the woods. He eventually finds a castle in the forest and is given accommodations for the evening there, although he sees no one in the great house; he is served invisibly.
  • The next morning, the merchant prepares to leave the castle and resume his journey. On his way through the palace grounds, he discovers a rose garden, and, remembering Belle’s request, stops to pick a rose for her.
  • As soon as he plucks the loveliest rose, a horrible Beast accosts him and says he will die for his treachery in defiling his garden. The merchant tries to explain that he only wants the rose for his youngest daughter. The Beast agrees to let him go, only if he, or his daughter, will return to the castle.
  • The merchant is obviously distraught at this, but he agrees. The beast fills the merchant’s saddlebags with jewels, gowns, and money for his daughters.
  • Upon arriving home, the merchant tells his daughters of the bargain he has struck, and Belle agrees to go to the Beast’s castle.
  • When she arrives, the Beast informs her that every night at 7:00, he will ask for her hand in marriage. He also tells Belle that she is mistress of the castle, not his servant. They have long conversations together every night, and Belle is given fine clothes, a sumptuous bedroom, and other gifts.
  • Every night, the beast asks Belle to marry him, and every night, she refuses. However, after each refusal she dreams of a handsome prince who once lived in the palace, and becomes convinced that the beast is holding the prince captive somewhere in the castle. Belle searches for him, and while she discovers many enchanted rooms, she does not find the Prince.
  • For several months, Belle and the beast continue to live as friends in the palace. But eventually Belle becomes homesick and asks the Beast if she may visit her family. He agrees, but tells her she must return exactly a week later, and gives her a magic mirror and a ring. The mirror allows her to see what is going on back at the castle (so Disney did use this, to some degree), and the ring will allow her to return to the castle in an instant after she has turned it three times around her finger.
  • Belle returns home, and her sisters are jealous of the life she leads and her beautiful gowns. They plot to make her stay beyond the allotted time, thinking the beast will kill Belle if she breaks her promise. To do this, they manipulate Belle with fake tears and entreat her to stay longer with them.
  • Moved by her sisters’ (false) emotion, Belle agrees. But she begins to feel guilty about not returning and looks in the magic mirror to see how the Beast is faring. She is shocked to see that he is dying. Immediately she turns the ring three times and returns to the castle.
  • Upon returning, she finds the Beast nearly dead in the rose garden, near the bush where her father picked her rose. She tells him that she loves him, and begins to cry. When her tears hit his body, he is turned into the hansdome prince from Belle’s dreams. The prince tells her that he was enchanted by a fairy when he refused to let her in during a rain storm, and that by finding true love, despite his ugliness, the curse would be broken.

The Beast becomes the Prince

  • In the original story, the servants are invisible, unlike Disney’s anthropomorphic clocks, candlelabras, wardrobes, feather duster, stoves, teapots, and teacups.
  • Another difference: A Gaston counter-part doesn’t exist, and the townspeople don’t play a role in the story, which means there is no climactic, Macbeth-quoting charge in the last part of the story.

The urban setting for this fairy tale is unique, and may be indicative of the changing social class structure of the time. Belle and her family are not peasants, nor are they royalty; they are middle class.

There have been, of course, multiple re-tellings of this tale, but my favorite is Beauty , by Robin McKinley. In this version, there are no jealous, money-obsessed sisters. Belle/Beauty is the youngest of three girls: Grace, Hope, and Honour (Beauty’s given name). As a child, Honour declared she would rather be called “Beauty”, and the name stuck. Unfortunately, she is not beautiful, especially in comparison to her older sisters. In their new home, she does much of the heavy, outdoor work, while her sisters take care of the household.

A major theme of McKinley’s work is the blindness with which Beauty sees herself–she only sees herself as good for heavy work, and thinks she will never be even attractive, let alone pretty. She is bookish and not good with romance. The Beast also is a bit of a sorcerer, sending dreams to Belle’s family reassuring them of her health and safety. There is also much more detail about Beauty’s early life.