Today’s letter in the month long A-Z challenge is F. (No, we’re not going there! Get your mind out of the gutter, people. LOL!) Our guest today is Oberon Wonch, lover of Medieval romance, Renaissance Faires, fairy tales, gardening, and a soon-to-be-published romance author.
F is for Fairy tales, those magical stories we all heard growing up, the ones that feature youngest sons, princesses, cruel stepmothers, and talking animals. The stories where good triumphs over evil and an honest knight or virtuous princess earns a blissful happy ending.
Scholars who like to debate this sort of thing actually don’t agree on what exactly distinguishes a fairy tale from other folk tales. Though most agree an actual fairy needn’t be involved, they dispute whether magic is an integral part of a fairy tale and whether some form of mythical being—goblins or giants, for example—must be included. Despite the arguments, several motifs are common: a handsome prince, a beautiful maiden, a fantastic location such as a castle or a beanstalk that climbs to the clouds.
Though stories resembling what we identify today as fairy tales go back thousands of years, the term fairy tale was first coined in the 17th century by Countess d’Aulnoy. She compiled anthologies of French folk tales meant to be discussed by adults in Parisian salons. Gathering her stories from nursemaids and other laboring class women who told stories to children, she emphasized the magical elements in such tales and built up the motif of strong female characters who prevail over evil stepmothers and overbearing royal fathers. (Perhaps because those were the subjects that appealed most to her fellow salon-goers.)
One thing that seems to be a modern invention is the idea of a happily ever after. This might be attributed to the Brothers Grimm, who in the early 19th century recorded on paper many German folk tales from oral tradition. Hoping to market their books as family-friendly but finding the stories too gruesome for children, they took the liberty of cleaning up the tales. Stabilized through printing, their versions have become the standard in cultures of English descent.
Did you know Hans Christian Andersen mostly wrote new stories rather than relayed traditional fairy tales? He employed some familiar motifs, but the characters and plots were all his. Eloisa James did a series of historical romances where each book was founded upon a fairy tale. When Beauty Tamed the Beast was my favorite.
Let's chat: What are your favorite fairy tales, the ones that resonate with you? Do you recognize the fairy tales in your nodern reading?
A two-time Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist in Historical Romance, Oberon Wonch writes passionate tales about heroes, both modern and medieval, winning the hearts of their lady loves. Visit her at http://www.oberonwonch.com/ or her gardening blog at http://www.gardeningwithoutfairies.com/.
The "F" book list:
The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley: historical fiction, paranormal, romance all in one. I love just about everything this author writes.
Judi Fennell: lighthearted romance. Her early works are paranormal romance, and now she's coming out with contemporary romantic comedies about a group of brothers working as housemaids!
Firefly: Graphic novels, multiple authors/artist. The comic-book continuation of the beloved television space opera series that, like most of Joss Whedon's stuff, died a tragic and far-too-early death. They live on in these. Start with this one.
Images: The Frog Prince y Anne Anderson (1874-1930) (http://www.artsycraftsy.com/anderson_prints.html) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Red Riding Hood: By Charles Perrault, Harry Clarke (ill.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons