Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Magic Beauty

This week's discussion, on Beauty in fairy stories, is to kick of a new direction of discussion, from beauty to myth. I'm excited for the change. I suggested today's topic, as Jenna reminded me in her post, and the topic is an important one to me, but I'm having trouble writing on it. I'm interested in reading Mr. Pond's response, because this is apparently his passion. Write away Mr. Pond!

Fairy stories, folk tales, myths, and superstitions all meld together in my mind. The all belong essentially to a life that is more connected to the land and to the people around us; a life that sees the spiritual aspect of living things. The beauty in fairy tales is this worldview, the realization that anything is possible. It is a beauty that is thrilling, frightening, and joyful. Tales of changelings, of dark creatures that make nights in the woods dangerous, of river haunts who drown the unwary and unbaptized make the forests come alive in imagination, as do the joyful tales, of Eden returning at midnight Christmas Eve - when animals speak, flowers bloom, and lights fill the trees, of the apple-tree-man guarding the orchard, the domovoi guarding the home and sweeping up at night.

Fairy stories demand beauty from us as well - the domovoi will guard the house against it's owners if they offend his aesthetic. He will beat the lazy homeowner, pinch the inhospitable housewife, even dry up the cows if an ill-favored animal is brought it.  The fairy world loathes the unbeautiful - the brutal, frightening, and dangerous they have in abundance, but the unbeautiful they reject; which is one reason I love them, they remind us that failing in beauty has it's consequences.


  1. Hey, M.

    I like your thoughts, eh? How do you distinguish "the brutal, frightening and dangerous" from "the unbeautiful." though? (Lolita comes to mind, though Not A Fairy Tale).

    One of my favorite stories in the Grimms is "The Boy Who Could Not Shiver and Shake." It's neither mysterious nor beautiful, and I'm not sure if you could call that a fairy-tale either; there's no magic involved unless you count The Power of Stupidity.

  2. I would classify Lolita as beautiful but brutal and disturbing, because I think Nabokov manages to convey the beauty of the person, which is one reason why the story is so disturbing.

    I don't know that story, but it sounds fun..stupidity is usually fun to read about.

  3. You would enjoy Sicilian Fairy Tales-- They are often silly and I think rather stupid.

  4. The Boy Who Could Not Shiver And Shake is great, but it does involve some fairly intense ghostly things towards the end of the story. On the other hand, the main way that Our Hero wins out in the end is indeed by managing to be completely insensitive to absolutely any horror the supernatural can throw at him. If there is aesthetic work being done, Our Hero's great virtue is apparently supposed to be that he is completely unworked-upon by it.

    It's a weird story.

  5. Charles, you're right; I didn't think of the ghosts because they're not "vivid and continuous dream" magic; they're more like, "hey, these skulls are really kind of ineffective as bowling balls" magic.

    yeah, M., that's pretty much what I was thinking about Lolita.

  6. Hello to everybody!

    Being a fan of fairy tales myself I can add some points on The Boy Who Could Not Shiver And Shake.

    It is not a classic fairy tale because of magic but because it talks about transformation. Young man was insensitive until he married a princess and became a real man.

    It is not coincidence his transformation happens in the bed, the only place where boy can become a man.

    I read several versions of this story and best remember the one where hero learned about fear only when his son came in danger. We can say you can shiver and shake only when you learn about responsibility and being a father certainly brings responsibility.

    In Grimm's version there is no son, just a joke with a fish (easily substituted with powerful symbol, but we want to stay G-rated, right?), maybe because they changed the story as they did to many others... But the point of transformation (with marriage) is the same.

    So ... Transformation, not magic equals fairy tale.

    Hope to be of some help and sorry about my broken English. Enjoy:)

  7. Thanks for joining in Fairy Tale Lover! It sounds fascinating, I'm definitly going to have to check it out. :)