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Magic for dummies: what fairy tales they adapt and what to read to tell them

Magic for dummies: what fairy tales they adapt and what to read to tell them
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Palina Dolia

Since then, as a person learned to put sounds into words, and words into sentences, the world around him began to rapidly grow into fairy tales. Magic stories explained everything that frightened by its unknown, the change of seasons, birth, death, the color of the plumage of birds and the appearance of fire. What about them now? They suffered the fate of unbridled adaptation. Old fairy tales are rewritten over and over again in a new way, their motives are woven into other stories. How is this done, and most importantly, why? Let's take a look at the history of the adaptation of the fairytale classics.

"Cinderella". "Snow White". "Sleeping Beauty". Surely each of us can name at least a few films and books that use the motives of these fairy tales and many others, of course. So many works were based on the story of Little Red Riding Hood that this fairy tale turns into a hackneyed disc. How long can you torment the story of a poor girl with pies? Answer: infinitely long, because each adaptation is a look at a unique story from a new point of view. We all know what this tale is about. But this knowledge also attracts readers to its adaptations: I wonder what the author will do with such a familiar story? Maybe she will tell it from the perspective of her grandmother, who expects imminent death in the mouth of a wolf? Move the scene to a modern suburb? Give all heroes magic?

Every fairy tale is somewhat similar to a spell, magic words repeating in a circle. From their very first appearance, fairy tales were retold over and over again, and each narrator brought new details to them, on the contrary, he forgot something or was completely confused in the story, in fact, creating a completely new one. As our parents told us the tale of Snow White, we are drawn to repeat it again - this time in our own way.

However, another point is also interesting here. Why do some fairy tales get new adaptations over and over again, while others are doomed to eternal imprisonment in a folkloristic collection? But they are no worse - both instructive and entertaining, and there is magic, and adventure. Perhaps it's the relevance? Take a closer look at the fairy tales that are most often adapted. Cinderella's motives come up again and again in romantic comedies - because it is a classic story about hope for a better life, sincere love and reward for efforts. Bluebeard may be a less obvious source of inspiration for contemporary writers, but this story speaks of fears familiar to everyone. Maybe none of us were driven out of the kingdom by the evil stepmother, and our father never left us in the woods, but we know what it is like to be betrayed and abandoned. Heroes of fairy tales are faced with the magical embodiment of what we meet every day. In this context, the simple message “good always wins” becomes truly inspiring.

However, there is another problem with the adaptation of fairy tales: almost all of them belong to the circle of stories told by Charles Perrault, Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm brothers. Let's face it - Western culture dominates in the realm of fairy tales and their adaptations. For example, did you know that one of the oldest versions of Cinderella is Chinese? Back in the 9th century BC. there was a fairy tale about Ye-Hsien among the people - and in it there was an evil stepmother, and a lost shoe, and the identification of a young lady by the size of her shoes. And we still remember the European version.

The same fairy tales pop up over and over again in new adaptations, books and films every year dress a new heroine in a red cloak and send her to her grandmother through the forest, and we, of course, gladly accept another version of our favorite story. But sometimes you still want to read something new! After talking about fabulous adaptations, it is worth remembering the plots that have remained in the shadows all these years. And what could be more exciting reading material to escape from the harsh reality? We announce a moment of escapism and invite you to plunge into the world of non-standard collections of fairy tales, legends and folk tales.

  1. "Italian Tales", Italo Calvino. Not all European fairy tales are gaining popularity, and this collection is proof of this. The story of three pomegranates may seem familiar to you, but otherwise this collection contains forty charming tales that have been overheard in Italy over the past 200 years. The magic bag, evil witches and disputes with Death itself - these are the Italian tales. And more often than others, they talk about where desires lead us.

  2. "Celtic mythology". The book is a little more scientific, but no less fascinating - exciting battles, ancestral curses and enchanted artifacts are described here colorfully and easily, and at the same time - with explanations of what it meant at all. Do you want to know why the Little Kitty is dangerous and what gods became the Knights of the Round Table? Celtic Mythology will tell you.

  3. "Demonology of Ancient China". This book contains not so much fairy tales as stories about the manifestation of the supernatural. Evil spirits in old knitting needles, werewolf foxes and demonic trees - everyday life in ancient China was never easy, especially for officials - by coincidence, it was they who most often became victims of demonic intrigues. Read "The Demonology of Ancient China" and be careful with old lamps.

  4. "Myths and Legends of America". Time for instructive stories! The Indians have always known a lot about short tales, the main task of which is to condemn and condemn. And also in epic adventures, internecine wars and sinister witchcraft, of course. In addition to stories about where the buffalo hump comes from and why corn grows with beans, this collection has something unique - the tales of the pioneers and conquerors of the Wild West. And for more epic stories, however, it is worth looking into "Myths, Tales and Legends of Indians", there are dangerous travels, and fratricide, and everything that can only be imagined.

  5. "Tales of India and Burma". This collection stands out against the general background with its stories about ... monks. A whole cycle of hilarious tales about novices who get trapped over and over again is fun and instructive. Only from Indian fairy tales you will learn why to beat the deaf, where to steal corn and how to negotiate with a girl using pea soup.

  6. "Tales of the peoples of Bissau". Our diverse selection sorely lacked stories from West Africa. Here the Hare is not a coward, but the main trickster, capable of outwitting any jackal, and all animals are a little smarter than people. If you've ever asked yourself why a goat doesn't smoke, discover African fairy tales - there are answers to many strange questions.

  7. "Irish and Welsh Tales". Did you miss epic battles and combat witchcraft? It's all there, in the Irish and Welsh stories of real heroes and their victories. The mighty Cuchulainn goes against the whole army, but he is struck by a curse! The glorified Heroid of the Jarl turns into a goldfinch and gets stuck in his skin! Dramatic and instructive in equal measure. In addition, after many stories, everyday wisdom is cited - for example, advice on how to choose a wife and when it is better to marry widows. It will probably come in handy.

Contrary to stereotypes, fairy tales are not created only for children - moreover, many of them will seem even too old to the modern reader. Therefore, now, in troubled times of pandemic and change, it is high time to find refuge from all problems in magical stories. Leave the adaptations to the bookish gourmets. The National Library is your guide to the world of fairy tales that you have not yet heard.

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