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« Black Milk: On Writing, Motherhood and the Harem Within, by Elif Shafak, translated by Hande Zapsu | Main | merry christmas! »

Saturday, 21 December 2013

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vicki (skiourophile / bibliolathas)

Perhaps the boot with the hole that doesn't leak represents the sort of miraculous luck one needs to marry well? (Tho it doesn't work, of course - in that sense a bit like testing witches by 'drowning'.) This is such an odd story, isn't it? - among very many other aspects, the motif of the paper dress intrigues me (I wonder why it isn't rags? - keeping up appearances?!). I hadn't read this one before, so thanks for introducing it - and Merry Christmas!

Helen

I like that idea about the boot very much, vicki! The paper dress is odd, would a fairly humble family like that have had so much paper to hand? Perhaps the good girl was an avid reader and her stepmother punished her by sewing her books into a dress...

Merry Christmas to you too, ay it be filled with fantastic books. It's been lovely meeting you (this year, I think?) and discovering your web-log.

Catie

It's interesting that at the start of the story the girls know each other and seem to possibly be friends (going for a walk together and all) and then they split so suddenly into these strong archetypes- I feel a bit sad for their friendship there. And did the girl want milk to wash in and water to drink, or was she just being obedient in repeating the story to her father? The story seems to start so ambiguously and end quite unambiguously.

Also- hooray for fairy tales, and Merry Christmas! :)

Helen

What good observations, Catie! They made me wonder about female friendship in the Grimms' tales: I haven't found much so far. I mean friendships between ordinary girls or women. There are the sisters Snow White and Rose Red, and the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Can you think of any more?

Merry Christmas to you too, Catie, it's so nice to have met you! And yes, hooray for fairy tales!

litlove

How lovely to have you writing about fairy tales again - but never fear. I don't know how anyone with a full time job and a young family manages to blog at all, let alone with the intelligence and thoughtfulness that you do! For some reason this story makes me think about an article I read online today that wondered where all the strong female leads have gone on television, asking: 'Where are the daughters of Buffy?' The article argued that there were no female friendships on view these days, and my immediate reaction was that strength, as we are encouraged to admire it, comes only in the masculine model, which is that of the lone ranger. So strong women inevitably become women who act alone. But reading this made me think about a different, older model, which suggests only one girl may triumph by finding the 'right' answers to the cultural challenges. Hmmm, haven't got any further with my thinking than this, but it's all a very intriguing conundrum.

Helen

Goodness, I don't know either, litlove (I only work part-time!), in fact I don't know how such people manage to function at all, they are all marvellous. And it does take me HOURS to put together a short post, although not quite as long as when I started here.

You always have something kind and something perceptive to write in your comments... I'm slightly horrified that Buffy might be old enough to have daughters (!), and I can't say much about what's on television since I don't really watch it (I know that looks pompous, but I don't), but if what that article claims is true, it's depressing. I agree that strength tends to be seen in terms of masculinity, and I have the feeling, which I can't properly justify, that while sometimes girls are given role models of strong, kick-ass, 'masculine' heroines in fiction or film, these roles aren't supported by the general culture and so they're just there to kind of soak up girls' fantasies, after which they're supposed to go back to normal life. Which does at least give girls more options than the sisters in this story, even if they're not encouraged to be 'too' strong.

Maybe there never was a sisterhood? Certainly the young women in the Grimms' fairy tales seem often to be in competition with each other - for parental affection, for a husband. Anyway, I agree with you about one girl having the 'right' answers, and sometimes they seem to be as a result of her kindness, and sometimes as a result of her cunning.

Catie

I can't think of any other fairy tales with female friendships- but then I guess as litlove points out they're pretty rare in modern fiction as well.

It's been lovely to meet you too- and have a wonderful new year!

Helen

Happy New Year, Catie! :)

Christine Harding

I've always thought having gold coins drop from one's mouth sounds as uncomfortable as the toads, and must have made life very uncomfortable! Perhaps what we need is a Carol Duffy 'World's Wife' style interpretation of the Grimm Tales...

Helen

I agree, Christine! Uncomfortable, and inconvenient too. I love the idea of a World's Wife sort of interpretation of the Grimms. I was just thinking that this story is one of the less famous tales, and wondering why some are more famous than others. Perhaps it contains too many elements which are common to other stories, and too few to really identify it (gingerbread house, hundred-year sleep, etc.)?

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