Preserving the Spell

Preserving the Spell
By:"Armando Maggi"
Published on 2015-07-21 by University of Chicago Press

Once upon a time, glass slippers, poison apples, evil stepmothers, fairy godmothers, and princes charming exerted a magnetic hold, cast a magic spell, on adults and children alike. Real-life anxieties fostered a need for stories that assuage. But the world changes, and Maggi asks here whether fairy tales have found a way to transform themselves to keep up. He says no, they haven t. The genre of fairy tale has become contaminated, it has been entitized, like processed food, fossilized as Disney-esque icons. We need to rediscover the marvelous, the oneiric trance of dazzling dreams or horrid torments. We need a new mythic lens to help us understand reality, but to chart what that might be, it is necessary to understand the history of the various traditions of oral and written narrative that intersect with each other across time and space. He goes to Giambattista Basile for the Ur fairy tales, with a special focus on the emblematic Cupid and Psyche myth, an anchor for Maggi s wide-ranging investigation of essential variations on fairy tales (with oppositions of beauty/ugly, human/divine, apparent/real). The transformations of later Italian, French, English, and German traditions come to a head with the Brothers Grimm in 19t-century Germany. Maggi brilliantly weaves the traditions into the 20th century, in memoirs such as those by Joan Didion, in postmodern novels such as Robert Coover s, and, in a final manifestation, in the convulsively, bleakly beautiful movie, \

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