This was a 4 hour immersion in Fairy Tale.
Beginning with a paper from Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario who was dressed like Puss in Boots, we were informed that Puss in Boots was originally female! With an interest in contemporary fairy tales, including novels, comics and animated features, Rebecca-Anne is also researching the female fairy tale writers of France under Louis XIV. And this was her focus at the salon. The presentation drew our attention to the culture of the French Court and the tales of Charles Perrault and Marie Catherine D’Aulnoy. Rebecca-Anne alerted us to the technology and fashion that is referenced in the tales – like shoes and large mirrors. Less familiar 17th century French creators of fairy tale were discussed: Catherine Bernard, Marie-Jeanne L'Heritier and Henriette-Julie de Murat. The tale of Cinderella and variants were explored and now I urge you all to google these names and search for ‘Finette' and the tale of The Discreet Princess.
The Papers were punctuated with stories and following Rebecca-Anne, Jackie Kerin from Storytelling Australia told The Three Army Surgeons by the Brothers Grimm.
Sarah Kelly’s paper: Tale as Old as Time: Examining the Enduring Popularity of Beauty and the Beast. With an interest in Irish mythology and feminism, Sarah posed the question of the relevance of the Beauty and Beast tales and encouraged us to go back and read the original by Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont. She asked us to consider the myths of Cupid and Psyche, to read Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and to watch the Disney animated version with an open mind. Can fairy tales be a space for discussing feminine issues?
To close the first half, three students and teachers of fairy tale, Belinda Calderone, Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario and Weibke Eikholt, fielded a discussion with the audience.
Jay Peterson from the Spinners and Weavers Guild drew us back into the story space with a spinning demonstration – using both a spindle and spinning wheel. Sleeping Beauty was pricked with a spindle (well in another she was pierced by a piece of flax). As so many tales reference spinning, Jay’s contribution was a marvelous and informative addition to the program.
Vic teller, Suzanne Sandow, followed with the marvelous and creepy tale of Mr Fox credited to have been first anthologized by the English folklorist, Joseph Jacobs
Reilly McCarron, musician and folklore student, took us into the story of Sleeping Beauty, comparing the Grimm and Perrault versions, the variations in plot and character and alerting us to the gender changes. What happened to all those heroines? Reilly told a version of the tale that would have been unfamiliar to many in the room. The prince took advantage of the Sleeping Princess, she became pregnant and even gave birth and all the while she did not wake … not until the newborn mistook her finger for a nipple and by chance sucked the flax splinter from under her skin …
Belinda Calderone completed the Salon with her paper: Between Fantasy and Reality: Fairy Tales and Early Modern Cheap Print. Her focus was on motherhood in fairy tales, the fascination and fear of what can go wrong – the collapsing of boundaries between the animal and human. The Modern Era is described as the period between the 1500 – 1800s. Belinda’s studies compare sensational articles of strange monstrous births in broadsheets and pamphlets from this era, with similar phenomena in fairytale. She suggested reading Babiole by Marie Catherine D’Aulnoy.
A long post for this blog indeed! But this was a rich and wonderful afternoon and there is much to share with those of you who could not be there. I hope I got it right – my notes are a scribble!
Have fun googling those beautiful French names.