Posted by: Yorgos | March 8, 2008

Text 7 – A Short Comment on Fairy Tales

I was reading this article yesterday about the way the popular fairy tales were actually written. Snow White, Cinderella and all the rest contained from cannibalism to mutilation, from pedophilia to rape and so on. I actually knew that before I read the article, so this is not what I want to say. What I do want to mention is this: The writer of the article, when trying to describe the story of one of the fairy tales thought that people might not know it because it wasn’t made into a movie by Disney. It is a very popular one, I don’t remember its name right now (luckily, to my defense, I haven’t seen any of the Disney adaptations of fairy tales), it is about the maiden who allegedly weaves gold, she is made to do it, she can’t, an evil gnome helps her, she promises him her firstborn, he comes back to claim it unless she guesses his name, she does (with a peasant’s help), happy ending.

I am wondering, though. How much of our knowledge is currently based on electronic media? And I don’t mean any useless yet interesting knowledge, the one I was talking about in a previous post. I am talking about tradition, folk knowledge that has ceased to exist in our collective memory and is now a part of the entertainment industry. Of course, those fairy tales stopped being just a part of the oral tradition the minute they were recorded, just like the epics of Homer. But people kept reciting them, kept knowing these stories without having read them. Can we still claim the same things? Our culture has seized being an oral one and has moved on, for better or for worse, to becoming not only a written one, but an electronic one. Memory is no longer needed, because we have all those recording devices. Some things will lose their identity by this transfer (have already lost their identity) and there is nothing we can do about it. It’s not that bad a situation. Things change, evolve, adapt and adjust all the time. But do we really want the Disney version of Show White to become the authoritative fairy tale?

This subject is big, but for now, that is all.



  1. […] I would like to make two comments on this book. The first one has to do with the first paragraph of this text. It is very interesting, at least to me, how the myth of Frankenstein is completely separated by its origins. So many things that we take for granted, simply do not exist in the book. I will not say if this is good or bad. Myths have a tendency of acquiring a life of their own; According to Borges, Aladdin’s tale is not in the book of a Thousand and One Nights (also known as Arabian Nights), but it was added by an early translator. On the other hand, this particular myth seems to have been taken over by Hollywood and that has nothing to do with having a life of its own. I have addressed this issue in some of my other posts, especially the one about Fairy Tales. […]

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