One thought on ““Red As Blood and White as Bone,” by Theodora Goss”

  1. A nice plea on behalf of the subversive power of fairy tales. I have read lots of stories with the very same message delivered in a similar way, so it’s hard for me to get excited about this one, but it’s pretty well done.

    The basic idea of the story, that fairy tales are the literature of the least powerful members of society and have the potential to inspire them to be active characters in their own story, rests on their former nature as oral stories, told by illiterate people, often women, in forest huts and kitchens. I don’t think Goss took enough account of how this sort of literature changes when it’s written down. Notably, of course, the Grimm brothers altered the stories they collected in order to make them suit the tastes of the parents of middle-class children; it is these altered versions that are familiar nowadays.

    The critical debate about fairy tales is rich and interesting. But it does have to be carefully put in historical context, in my opinion. This story is set in a point of time in Hungarian society at the transition between oral literature and universal literacy, and perhaps the assumption it makes that the old stories will be just as relevant in the future is oversimplified.

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