Dudes, if I could go back in time and back to school again, I’d probably focus on fairy tales, both in the Cultural Anthropology and the American Studies fields. That would’ve also have gone well together, no? (Even though, if I remember this correctly, those classification tables of motifs are incredibly boring.) I like the creepiness and uncanniness of them that’s missing in a lot of the cleaned up versions told to children now;
One significant result of the bowdlerization of the old stories is that the term fairy tale, like the word myth, can be used, in modern parlance, to mean a lie or an untruth. A proper fairy tale is anything but an untruth; it goes to the very heart of truth. It goes to the very hearts of men and women and speaks of the things it finds there: fear, courage, greed, compassion, loyalty, betrayal, despair, and wonder.
I recently found a collection (where I got the above quote from) called Snow White, Blood Red, which is a pretty mixed bag of modern re-tellings of fairy tales, but there are some good ones in there.
Reading the unedited stories and fragments collected by the Grimm Brothers is also enough to give you the creeps. Some of those stories are just three or four sentences long, leaving a lot to imagination, like ‘two sisters weaving under a mountain while the evil one rolls around on the floor‘.
And Angela Carter’s story collections are fantastic, too.
However, that leaves me in somewhat of a difficult spot, because while I believe that telling your children fairy tales is culturally important and enriching, I’m also not sure about some the more violent ones…and I’ve mentioned before that I was somewhat traumatized by some tales I read when I was little. And even though I was scared, I loved having my grandfather read me stories before I went to bed. This is one of my most cherished memories, by the way.
I really have no idea what to do with that, once I have some grumpy Germans of my own. I guess The Wife might have an opinion on this one though.
*The creepy picture is from a series by Miwa Yanagi.