7 ♦ Hansel and Gretel

1.27.2016

I have memories of sitting in a computer science lecture and viewing a graph of what looked to be white noise.  "You may think it looks random, but a truly random pattern wouldn't look so evenly distributed."  This Deal Me In challenge is confirming it in every respect - my thorough shuffling may have been random, but that doesn't necessarily equal balanced!

I'll assume you know the story of "Hansel and Gretel"...there is really not a whole lot I can add to it.  It does bring me to the question - why are the antagonists in fairy tales so very often female?  And not just female, but in a twisted mother-figure role: the stepmother in "Hansel and Gretel," the stepmother in "Cinderella," the Snow Queen, all the witches, etc.  Now I'd be curious to know whether the original storytellers were male or female, and whether any of these stories were based on real life events.  After I finish this challenge, I think I'll be seeking out further reading about the Grimm brothers and their collection of stories.

What say you - any theories as to why it's always evil stepmothers and wicked witches?

Q ♦ The Snow Queen

1.16.2016

The Snow Queen by Elena Ringo
The Snow Queen byElena Ringo http://www.elena-ringo.com
[CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

" His stuff always makes me cry.  :( "  That was my summary note, on finishing "The Snow Queen."  It's true; either his stories have aged well, or I have aged hardly, but Andersen always gets to me.  I shouldn't have put this one off, and I'm glad it came early on in Deal Me In (while it's still winter in the Northwest!).
 
"The Snow Queen" was the original inspiration for Frozen.  I love the story of Frozen, and I'm not sorry they deviated from the original, but "The Snow Queen" is as good a story as it is a different one.  It starts with a magical mirror that distorts the viewer's sight, so that if they look into it, all they see is bad things.  The mirror breaks into pieces that get scattered over the world and find their way into people's eyes and hearts, making them cold hearted.  At the same time, two neighborhood children, Gerda and Kay, find their friendship split apart when Kay disappears while sledding in the snowy street.  Gerda, who really loves Kay, decides to leave the safety of her home to search for him.  She encounters strange obstacles of all kinds, as she braves summer and winter, temptation and fear, to find her lost friend.

Short of being a huge coincidence, the Snow Queen rings bells of the White Witch from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I was quite surprised, but it must have been C. S. Lewis's tribute to (may I call him?) the King of Fairytales:  "'We have driven well,' said she, 'but why do you tremble? here, creep into my warm fur.' Then she seated him beside her in the sledge..."  It is an extremely menacing gesture, because it is so seemingly kind.  I don't want to be the reviewer who always looks for "loss of innocence" as the theme, but honestly, that was the vibe I got.

It is not just Kay who is taken away by a stranger; Gerda also encounters strangers who don't wish her well.  I loved the fact that Andersen chose Gerda to be the "knight in shining armor" - not merely of her own doing, of course, but in part through her determination and faith.  As in "The Wild Swans" (another favorite) and "The Little Mermaid," the little girl becomes a heroine.  She doesn't need brute force, only what help she can find, and, in "The Snow Queen," prayer.  It's also interesting that Andersen deliberately wrote Christian themes into the story: another parallel to LWW.

I think this has probably got a larger readership since the release of Frozen - still, "The Snow Queen" is quite an underrated fairytale.

J ♦ The Prince Who Feared Nothing

1.02.2016

Using my Lighthouses deck this time!

The Prince Who Feared Nothing is another strange tale from the Grimm Brothers' collection.  It is about a young prince who, "sick of living in his father's house," goes off into the world to end his boredom by having adventures.  As is usually the case in the world of Grimm, his boredom is soon relieved by the equivalence of an R-rated film, when he falls into the path of an evil giant and vies against demons to save a beautiful princess from her spell.

It is hard to find a rhyme, reason, or moral to this story, since the prince is rather dense, not exactly "fearless" in the best sense of the word.  Some reviewers find the princess's subplot to be a racist statement; it could be, or it could be referring to some kind of disease, I'm not sure.  Either way, the story has a speed of narrative that is typical of Grimm tales.  Maybe after so many generations, the tale lost some of its old morals and meaning, and became simply one child's imperfect memory passed on to another.

Deal Me In 2016

1.01.2016

In 2015, I was on a roll with this challenge, then, eight stories in, failed as gloriously as I had begun.  On the bright side, I still have my list and eight new stories to replace the "read" ones.  I'm going to ace it this time (pun intended)!  :)

Challenge hosted by Jay at Bibliophilica.


A – Snow White - Grimm
2 – The Minotaur - Hawthorne
3 – The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights - Pushkin
4 – The Woman with Two Skins - African folktale
5 – Rumpelstiltskin - Grimm
6 – The Shadow - Andersen
7 – Hansel and Gretel - Grimm
8 – The Girl Without Hands - Grimm
9 – The Fir Tree - Andersen
10 – Puss in Boots - Grimm
J – The Prince Who Feared Nothing - Grimm
Q – The Snow Queen - Andersen
K – King Thrushbeard - Grimm


A – The Argonauts of the Air - Wells
2 – A Country Doctor - Kafka
3 – The Adventure of the German Student - Irving
4 – Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor - Kafka
5 – The Artist of the Beautiful - Hawthorne
6 – The Purloined Letter - Poe
7 – The Country of the Blind - Wells
8 – A Report to an Academy - Kafka
9 – The Hunter Gracchus - Kafka
10 – My Kinsman, Major Molineux - Hawthorne
J – The Masque of Red Death - Poe
Q – The Last Question - Asimov
K – William Wilson - Poe


A – Investigations of a Dog - Kafka
2 – A Little Woman - Kafka
3 – The Nightingale and the Rose - Wilde
4 – Eleonora - Poe
5 – A Virtuoso's Collection - Hawthorne
6 – Wedding Preparations in the Country - Kafka
7 – The Lady with the Dog - Chekhov
8 – Regret - Kate Chopin
9 – The Necklace - Maupassant
10 – The Looking-Glass - Chekhov
J – The Snow-Image - Hawthorne
Q – The Cherry Orchard - Chekhov
K – An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge - Bierce


A – Symposium - Plato
2 – Nature - Emerson
3 – On Heroes and Hero-Worship - Carlyle
4 – In Defense of Sanity - Chesterton
5 – On the Duty of Civil Disobedience - Thoreau
6 – Common Sense - Paine
7 – On Evil Euphemisms - Chesterton
8 – The Twelve Men - Chesterton
9 – The Death of a Moth - Woolf
10 – Self-Reliance - Emerson
J – Camping Out - Hemingway
Q – Circles - Emerson
K – The Snows of Kilimanjaro - Hemingway