If you’re on Facebook and haven’t already “liked” my new author page, then by all means, check it out! It feels a little bit odd to have one because it makes everything so official, which I’m still having trouble grasping …. Anyway, here is the link:
I plan to launch Family Reunion (Six Cousins, Book 1) on Sunday, September 29th. So, any time on that date or after, if you’re interested in reading it, it will be at your service!
I think that’s all the update I have, so on to the book review:
This was an awesome book! It’s a must-read for those who love fairy tales as well as in-depth literary studies because Luthi combines the two in this insightful volume. Every chapter turned on a light bulb for me, prompting lots of notes. Like many people, fairy tales have been a backdrop to my life ever since I can remember; but a mystery always hung about them: Where did they come from? Why have they endured all these years? To me, there was much to admire in them but also a few things to pooh-pooh, like their flat characters and sometimes ridiculously unrealistic situations. But I’ve grown up since then and can appreciate them for the significant contribution to life that they are. Once Upon a Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales informs my impressions and fully explains the fairy tale’s value.
It was not a heavy read, and even gave quite a few tales at length, many of which I’d never heard before, including variants of The Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel. So that was a treat! Mostly Luthi discussed the meaning of fairy tales, which also covered why they are in the form they are –
even the way a fairy tale is told has meaning. He went into the unconscious psychology behind them: the many lessons they teach us for living beyond the mundane and the dreams that they encourage us to pursue. For example, here is how Luthi explains one lesson of the Cinderella tale: “Man is surrounded by hostile and helping forces; but he is not entirely at their mercy: through his own attitude –
perseverance, humility, and trust –
he can be supported through the help of nature and the enduring, strengthening love of the deceased mother [Cinderella’s virtuous mother] and can thus be led to the light.” And here he gives another benefit of the fairy tale: “The fairy tale portrays … a harmonious world. The confidence from which it flows is transmitted to both those who tell it and those who hear it. … [W]e can readily believe the report of a north German storyteller that a soothing and healing power can emanate from fairy tales when told to sick people in hospitals.” The book is full of such interesting and potentially life-changing thoughts.
My only disappointment is that, since I’ve always wanted to know the origin of fairy tales, I was hoping Luthi would peel away at the mystery. He didn’t attempt to, but instead had this to say: “Actually, the real origins are not the important thing in the fairy tale. It is quite likely that behind many features in our fairy tales there are old customs and beliefs; but in the context of the tale, they have lost their original character. Fairy tales are experienced by their hearers and readers, not as realistic, but as symbolic poetry.” If the learned and experienced Max Luthi says the origins are undiscoverable, I suppose the mystery shall just have to go unsolved.
The chapter titles will give you a great indication of its contents:
Introduction (the only boring part of the book … it wasn’t written by Max Luthi.)
1 Sleeping Beauty: The Meaning and Form of Fairy Tales
2 The Seven Sleepers: Saint’s Legend –
Local Legend –
3 The Dragon Slayer: The Style of the Fairy Tale
4 The Uses of Fairy Tales: Cinderella –
Hansel and Gretel –
The White Snake
5 The Little Earth-Cow: Symbolism in the Fairy Tale
6 The Living Doll: Local Legend and Fairy Tale
7 Animal Stories: A Glimpse of the Tales of Primitive Peoples
8 Rapunzel: The Fairy Tale as Representation of a Maturation Process
9 The Riddle Princess: Cunning, Jest, and Sagacity
10 The Fairy-Tale Hero: The Image of Man in the Fairy Tale
11 The Miracle in Literature