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Henry J. Ford's interpretation of a young woman recently maimed by her father. She looks plucky. Her "can do" attitude is what restored her arms. Is that the lesson this horror story carries?

Henry J. Ford’s interpretation of a young woman recently maimed by her father. She looks plucky. Her “can do” attitude is what restored her arms. Is that the lesson this horror story carries?

Simplia was looking a little green around the gills. She closed the book she was reading and blinked hard, as if to squeeze an unpleasant image from her eyeballs.

Sagacia looked up from the computer and blinked hard, too. From eyestrain.

“Ah,” she said. “You’re delving into those tomes we picked up at the library book sale. Katharine Briggs, right? Dictionary of British Folk-Tales?”

Simplia said, “Yeah. And the fabled British sense of decorum is nowhere to be found in any of the stories I’ve sampled so far. We got your body snatchers, you got your ghouls, we got your serial killers, and a father who cuts off his daughter’s limbs just because she broke some crockery.”

“She gets them back,” Sagacia reasoned. “And she’s stronger for the ordeal.”

“I wouldn’t say she’s stronger. She acts like a casebook example of victimhood, as far as I’m concerned. Not only forgiving the lousy perp, but saving his life. But that’s not the point!”

She laid the open book on the coffee table. The pages fluttered shut, leaving only the end papers and a library book pocket exposed. Instead of a “date due” card, inside the pocket was a sheet of notebook paper, torn roughly from its spiral binding. Written across the visible edge of the paper, the Simpletons both read the words:

Yo! Vasilisa!

Simplia removed the paper, unfolded it, and oblivious to the bits of paper that fluttered to the floor, she read:

What’s up with you and your magical friends, so heavily invested in keeping these stories alive? These particular stories in this particular book…many of them are absolutely dreadful! As in: ‘full of dread.’ And despair. And brutality. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no shrinking violet. Thing is, though, there’s already so much maiming and dismembering and ghoulishness going on everywhere in the world right now…I sorta turned to fairy tales to take me away from all that — to plug me into a source of ancient wisdom…or something. I’m disappointed that so many of these stories end on a note of vengeance, not justice; on resignation, not resolution.

Remind me again, Vasilisa: Why are these stories necessary?

Sincerely,

Skeptical in Skye

p.s. My questions are not rhetorical. I really want to know.

“So,” Simplia said with a satisfied nod, “I’m not the only one.”

Sagacia said, “Let’s go see if anybody at the Fairy Tale Lobby feel like proffering an opinion on this matter.” With two clicks of her mouse (not the Mailmouse!) she was on her feet, and the two of them were headed for the door.

_________________

(Post Script: There is now a full time link in the menu bar on the home page where our gentle readers may access the ongoing bibliography of favorite fairy tale collections. Don’t ask how the miracle came about. It might never again be repeated.)

 

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