(10/29/00 9:14:47 am)
|Back to the Victorians?|
I was wondering if you still wanted to discuss Victorian fairy tales and fairy lore? One thing that just popped in my head (it was snowing earlier and I have the music going)is the revamping of E.T.A. Hoffman's story, "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King." It was such a dark story, never intended for children, then rewritten for a much more lighthearted Christmas tale, and turned into the ballet production so many hold dear (myself included). I've never been able to secure a copy of the original story, only abridged versions of the Dumas retelling. Does this apply to your article?
Edited by: Kerrie at: 10/29/00
(10/30/00 1:22:20 am)
|Re: Back to the Victorians?|
Kerrie, yes, it does apply. One can't talk about fairy tales and the Victorians without looking at the enormous popularity of fairy tale ballet, theater, and opera -- which was not only influenced by old fairy tales, but went on to cast an influence on the new tales being written at the time, and on the illustrators of the period.
(11/1/00 1:16:10 am)
Midori, don't forget that you promised to tell us more about The Arabian Nights and the Victorians....
(11/1/00 5:40:36 am)
I've not forgotten...I'm finishing up a paper of Blake this week and then I have the weekend to read Said and others on the Orientalism question. I'll put up something this weekend.
(11/1/00 4:14:14 pm)
|In white satin slippers... |
Ok, here are a few ballets' synopses
I've remembered that I absolutely adore, if anyone cares to discuss
their relevance. I appologize for the length. www.artslynx.org/dance/ballets.htm
NUTCRACKER- (already mentioned)
LES SYLPHIDES- about the Sylphide, a fairylike creature captivated and eventually destroyed by her love for a mortal man.
LA SYLPHIDE- tells the story of James, a Scotch farmer who forsakes his fiancee Effie for a beautiful sylphide who has visited him in his dreams and entices him to an enchanted forest.
SWAN LAKE- Swan Lake tells the story of young Prince Siegfried, who falls in love with the Swan Queen Odette, a woman transformed into a bird by an evil sorcerer. Odette explains that she is destined to remain a strange composite creature, until rescued by a man's undying love.
Enthralled by her beauty, The Prince pledges his eternal love - but later, at a party in honor of his 21st birthday, he is tricked by the sorcerer, von Rothbart, into declaring his love for Odile, an evil twin of Odette. Realizing his inadvertent betrayal, the Prince rushes back to the lake. There, he battles Von Rothbart, and destroys his power. The lovers are then reunited.
SLEEPING BEAUTY- we all know the tale, but I was unaware of Act 3: The palace must be prepared for the wedding. The dust of the ages must be cleaned, and a wedding dress must be made for Aurora. The Fairies return for the celebration along with the fairy tale characters of the Bluebird and Princess Florine, Puss in Boots and the White Cat. Everyone joins in a dance of celebration. Finally Florimund and Princess Aurora are married and receive the blessing of the Lilac Fairy.
GISELLE-In Giselle, a prince, Albrecht, disguises himself as a commoner and rivals a suitor, Hillarion, for the affections of a peasant girl. Albrecht swears his love for Giselle and the two dance joyously. But Giselle's mother reminds her that she is not supposed to exert herself. In time, Albrecht is exposed. Further, it is revealed that he is promised to another. Giselle goes mad. She collapses, and dies. The second act takes place in the eerie woodland inhabited by the Wilis, spirits of young girls who have been jilted and died before their wedding day. A sorrowful Albrecht enters. But any mortal who invades this supernatural domain is doomed to death. The Wilis attempt to dance Albrecht to the point of exhaustion, but Giselle intercedes, and saves the prince's life.
FIREBIRD-Story line Scene I: Prince Ivan, hunting in the forest,
stumbles upon a magic garden. He watches the dancing of the Firebird
(FB) and then seizes the FB. He lets her go in exchange for a feather
which will protect him from danger. Scene II: Each night 12 maidens
who have been captured by wicked Tsar sneak out to the garden. Prince
Ivan fall in love with a princess ('unearthly beauty'). They kiss.
When dawn comes, the departing maidens warn Ivan not to follow.
Captured, he pulls out the feather, the FB appears, and forces the
evil spirits of the tsar to dance to exhaustion. The FB shows Ivan
a large egg with the soul of the tsar, he throws it up, & the
tsar dies. Scene 3: Opens with a radiant city; music and church
bells. Prince Ivan and the Princess, now the new Tsar and Tsarina,
marry to echoes of the celebratory music from the opening scene
of Boris Godunov The ballet ends with a three fold kiss. Firebird
Creature: Combines several items from Russian mythology Message
and symbolism: National rebirth and regeneration trevor.butler.edu/~wclark/firebird.html
LA BAYADERE- The ballet is set in legendary India. Nikiya, a bayadère or temple dancer, is in love with Solor, a noble warrior. However, the Rajah decides to marry his daughter Gamzatti to Solor; overwhelmed by her beauty, Solor forgets his vows of love to Nikiya. When the Rajah learns of Nikiya and Solor’s love from the High Brahmin (who is also in love with Nikiya), he decides to have the bayadère killed. Gamzatti tries to persuade Nikiya to give up Solor, but she refuses and attacks the princess who then also decides to have the bayadère killed.
Nikiya dances at the betrothal celebrations of Gamzatti and Solor. She is fatefully bitten by a poisonous snake hidden in a basket of flowers sent by the Rajah and Gamzatti.
Solor has an hallucinatory vision of Nikiya in the "Kingdom of the Shades". He tries to grasp her but she disappears. Later, at his wedding ceremony he is again haunted by the vision of Nikiya which he alone can see. The gods, infuriated by the killing of Nikiya, destroy the temple, killing everyone in it. The spirits of Nikiya and Solor are reunited in eternal love.
ONDINE- The story derives from Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's tale of a water-nymph who marries a mortal (she was called Undine in the original, but Ashton changed the names of all the characters). Ondine makes her first entrance from a fountain, shivering in the cold air as we would in water. She meets the hero, Palemon, and is astonished when she feels his heartbeat - ondines don't have hearts. He deserts Berta, who he's been courting, and marries Ondine; but she goes back to the sea and only returns when Palemon is about to marry Berta. Because of his unfaithfulness he dies when Ondine kisses him, and she takes him back to the sea for ever.
As for opera's, the only one I've been able to think of that is fairy tale related is HANSEL AND GRETEL
(11/2/00 4:30:13 am)
|French fairy tales
Terri: this probably isn't the
proper place to post this, but I just wanted to quickly say that
I picked up the most recent copy of Realms of Fantasy and greatly
enjoyed your article on French court fairy tales. I assume, by the
art and ads, that this is a magazine aimed primarily at teenagers,
and I want to say that I'm really glad you're writing such in-depth
articles on myths and fairy tales for this age group. I admit that
my first reaction after reading one of your articles, or Heinz Insu
Fenkel's, is: This should be in Parabola or some other respectable
journal, not a magazine with wizards and barbarians on the cover!
But on further reflection, I see that you are both doing something
much more important, which is bringing this material to an audience
who wouldn't know it otherwise, and are hungry for it. So "Bravo"
to you and to Heinz.
It was a treat to see the Adrienne Segur pictures illustrating the
article. I do wish they had used one of the Madame D'Aulnoy illustrations
however - White Cat or White Deer perhaps? - rather than good old
Perrault again. Almost proves the point of your article, doesn't
it? And what exactly was that third picture supposed to be?? I'm
not going to worry about offending you here since it is perfectly
clear to me that the third picture couldn't have been your choice,
and the caption was not of your writing. I quote: "Fairy-tales
written by women often featured fairies, representing intelligent
girls who would correct the mistakes others had made." I've
been reading Windling long enough to know that's not your prose!
Often featured fairies...duh. And "intelligent girls,"
not women?? But worst of all is the picture, of nekkid little fairies
with pert green boobs!!!! I nearly died laughing!
Oh, poor Terri. You've talked before about the perils of writing
for magazines, and now I see your point!
Teasing aside, it's a wonderful article. Thank you very much.
(11/3/00 1:04:14 am)
|French fairy tales
Jenna, thanks for your kind words
about the French fairy tales article. I just got my copy of the
magazine recently, and, ah, er, ummm, yes, that third picture is
singularly inappropriate and the silly caption made it even worse.
You're absolutely right, I didn't pick that picture or write those
captions. Unfortunately, there will be folks out there who think
I did. Arghhhhh. Plus, the article is riddled with errors, missing
words, missing lines, etc -- but this is *always* true of that magazine.
I don't know who on earth they've got as a proofreader. Every time
I read one of my printed articles, I wince all the way through it.
And then, as Kerrie pointed out in some earlier post, they've got
a big headline on the front of the magazine saying "Terri Windling:
Origins of Myth" -- as if I, or anyone, know what the origins
of myth is! Blimey. If they weren't all such nice folks there, I'd
just give up trying to write for them. It's like this every time.
When the November edition of the Endicott site goes on line, in
the next few days, it will have a copy of that article on it --
without the typos, missing lines, and pert green bosoms. <g>
(11/3/00 8:51:52 am)
Here is an early and rather brief reply to the Oriental question I posed about the Victorians and the Arabian nights. It's really quite fascinating and I'm having way too much fun reading. The whole concept of Orientalism--that academic discourse developed around the topic of the "Orient" is a response to the privilege of Empire. What the Victorians knew about the Orient was what the European scholars more or less decided the Orient should be. Orientalism which became an important academic area of study in the Victorian era was a specific discourse that allowed European culture to manage and even produce it own specifications for an Oriental culture--and that in turn solidified the concept of Empire, of authority. The Orient would be defined not directly from those who lived there, but always mediated by the European point of view. Edward Said writes in "Orientalism," : "In other words to be a European in the Orient, and to be one knowlegeably, one must see and know the Orient as a domain ruled over by Europe. Orientalism, which is the system of European or Western knowledge about the Orient, thus becomes synonymous with European domination of the Orient and this domination effectively overrules even the eccentricities of Burton's personal style."
What this means for the Arabian Nights is rather interesting. The Orient is defined as something that is subject but distinct from the Occident, and for the Victorians, it is also a foreign lanscape that has the capacity to describe the "Other". And for sexually repressed Victorian society, this "other" was just as often a scandalous, overtly sensual, beastial playground in which to create an alternative, fictious place for the self denied. One work is fascinating if you haven't already found it: "The Other Victorians; A Study of Sexuality and Pornography in Mid-Nineteenth-Century England" by Steven Marcus. It's a wonderful study of Victorian responses to its own repression in the creation of a particular flavor of pornography (including "The Lustful Turk"--where young English women discover their sexuality in romantacized rapes in the Harems of the Orient--interestingly though, the Big Turk who deflowers them throughout winds up castrated by some plucky English girl--after the sex of course--and pickles the various parts of his lost privates in bottles of wine which he presents to the English captives before he sends them home to England. So the Orient may be that place girls swoon into women--but the hegemony of European masculinity is restored by the castration of the Turk...amazingly weird logic in these pieces which Marcus calls "pornotopias").
The translations of the Arabian Nights in England fall into two camps--depending on what part of the "Empire-subject" equation the translator was interested in. But to begin with there were several Arabic versions of the text (basically a Syrian and an Egyptian branch) and some are more reputable than others and some are really quite questionable (collectors often culled Arabic stories from other sources and threw them in with the Arabian Nights in the hopes of rounding them up to a true 1,000 tales--not to mention inventing whole cloth tales, such as Aladdin and the Magic Lamp). Yet regardless of the Arabic manuscripts they worked with, all the translators shared a talent for reinventing the texts--choosing to delete or add passages at random, sometimes selecting pieces from other editions that suited their purposes. Of the two main British translations, the one by Edward Lane is interesting because he fancied himself an ethnographic scholar, observing Egyptian life and recording it for Victorian audiences. Hence his translations read at times like a travelogue of Egypt and as such shaped the way he reproduced the stories (complete with long, laborious footnotes!). He omitted a drinking scene in the tale "The Story of the Porter and the Three Ladies" because he himself had never seen Cairene women drinking...and then made up for it by adding a 23 page footnote about Arab drinking habits.
On the other hand there is Richard Burton. He was fluent in Arabic, amazingly well traveled, but incredibly arrogant about his knowlege and decidely interested in reproducing an Arabian nights which would be scandelous to the Victorian sensibilites. His own purpose he states is "to produce a full, complete, unvarnished, uncastrated copy of the great original." Of course the original manuscript he worked with was an odd late mix of high literary and colloquial style (from the Egyptian branch) which he then reproduced in a weird pseudo-archaic English to suggest the fairytale mode layered on Oriental sensuality. If Lane wanted to give the pruddish victorian a guide through Egypt, Burton was only too delighted to shock the hell out of them by rendering everything colorful and exotic..he also has a lot of footnotes, such as the one appending the "Prologue" which explains the prediliction of white women for black men by going on about the enormous male organs of the Zanzibar slaves, promising to tell the reader further about the retention of semen...(Again Terri, if you have access to Hassan Haddawy's wonderful translation of "The Arabian Nights" the introduction is fabulous for giving a detailed history of the translations. If not, email me a FAX number and I can fax you some of the relevant pages from Haddawy and Said and Marcus if you like)
So much for a horribly truncated backround sketch of Orientalism and the history of the translations--but the point is I think, that in looking at the Victorians responses to the specific translations of the Arabian Nights, two things are key:that they were an expression of an imagined "Orient" that fit neatly under the domination of Europe and, that it provided a sense of "the other"--that unrepressed landscape on which to experience vicariously everything that was denied to them in the sensual arena within the Empire. So let me see now if I can find any specific studies of Victorian readings or textual analysis of the narratives (probably of Burton's translations)...those would probably give you some richer details for the article.
I'm back to the library...
(11/3/00 9:13:52 am)
|Question for Midori|
Midori -- I'm just curious as to which set of Burton's work you were looking at and wondering if it is the same as the one I own the 1910 ten volume edition with the five volumes of "Supplemental Nights." They were a gift many years ago -- a friend discovered them at an estate sale. I love Burton -- but it's an irrational fascination. *sigh*
(11/3/00 10:20:00 am)
I'm in the midst of answering that interesting question. I just found a fascinating article on Isabel Burton, Richard Burton's wife and long time collaborator in the production of his writings. But what is interesting is that they were poles apart on issues of sexuality and the representation of sexuality. Burton was a wild one, a libertine (and rumored homosexual among other activities) but Isabel was a member of the Victorian "Purity" movements--since she had the last word on Burton's texts after he died, she did a lot to alter Burton's works to reflect positivity on the issues of sexual purity movement. I'm ploughing through the article now--but just in case you have access to it, here is the cite: "Sexual Politics of Authorship: Rereading the travels and Translations of Richard and Isabel Burton" by Richard Phillips in "Gender Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography", Sept. 99, Volume 6, Issue 3, p.241. (A journal of Feminist Geography! is that not fabulous!)
On another note, I just picked up a second article in a recent edition of The American Journal of Folklore" which details Lane's particular Victorian viewpoint in his translation of the AB. "Otherness and Otherworldiness. Edward W. Lane's Ethnographic Treatment of the Arabian Nights" by Jennifer Schacker-Mill in Journal of American Folklore, V.113, Spring 2000 Issue 448 p.164-184.
And you might want to look at the Haddawy translation recently out in paper--it's really splendid!
(11/3/00 4:03:38 pm)
|Some pointes to think about...|
Hmmm, looking through the unbrief synopses, I notice a few themes. Birds, soldiers, unfaithfulness, dolls/puppets, deaths of young maidens. I also see perhaps the Orientalism Midori so eloquently explained in PETRUSHKA, with the Ballerina prefering Blackamoor over Petrushka. And also in LA BAYADERE. It's also interesting to note the colors and costumes of these folkloric ballets- the contradiction between the purity of the "ballet blanc" (white ballet) versus the exotic colors of the foreign stories and characters.
(11/4/00 4:05:26 pm)
I need a little time to digest these wonderfully succulent ideas (!), but I notice that you draw on Marcus a bit and I just wanted to ask if this book has crossed your path yet:
Walter Kendrick "The Secret Museum: Pornography in Modern Culture".
Kendrick refutes Marcus's study. He says that The Other Victorians was "a cross-over book, academic in method but popular in style and subject... informed throughout by erudite sympathy with the Victorians and theur foilbles' and pervaded by a "desire to show that pornography was and had always been both regressive and debilitating", due to its "gratification of infantile wishes and location in 'pornotopia'". Writes Kendrick, "Marcus' unquestioning reliance on the Freudian norms of 'maturity' and 'reality'- their absolute superiority to anything childish or fantastic- allowed him to shore up popular prejudices with pseudo-psychoanalytic underpinnings."
It all makes Marcus sound like a bit of a Bettelheim, does it not?
Does this create any new vaiations in the stew?
(11/4/00 5:11:16 pm)
I come to Marcus via a Foucault and later an Edward Said reference (and as of yet haven't encountered Kendrick). It is rather light and uncomplicated reading...but it does have some interesting ideas about the contradictions of the Victorians--and the writing is rather droll in places. Marcus is too funny to be Bettleheim--though he may suffer against a more scrupulous social historian--none the less the book was worth the afternoon I spent reading (if nothing for the outrageous examples of Victorian pornography.) My guess is that Marcus probably becomes didatic in the chapters on "My Secret Life" which I only glanced at since I was more interested in the chapter on "The Lustful Turk" and the Orient as a place of seduction.
Still, I'll have a glance at Kendrick while I'm at it--and thanks for the reference! I am new at this field.
(11/5/00 11:02:40 am)
Midori, that's fascinating info. I'm definitely going to have to do more reading in this area -- I have only a woefully shallow knowledge of the Oriental tales popular with the Victorians (and with the French in the previous century.) I won't do more than touch on it briefly for this article on Victorian fairy tales...but it might be nice to devote a whole article to the subject at some future date. Which would give me the excuse to learn more about it. <g>
Sorry this post is so short. I'm on the final days of a deadline (you know what *that's* like),
so I've been lurking and reading more than posting. I'll be a free woman again in a couple of days.
(11/7/00 7:26:49 am)
|worth a look|
This stuff really is interesting and I am falling into it rather unexpectantly. It might be a nice panel discussion for WisCon??? We could look at the uses of the AB, both as colonial expressions of the "other" , the sexualized "other" the issue of gender, the problems of translations, and the modern reworkings of them (A.J. Byatt and Rushdie come to mind--oh, and Nagib Mafouhz--and I am willing to bet there is a host of contemporary Arab women writers who have tackled themes from the AB as well..) We could also pull together quite a bit of fascinating art--shall we think about it? Kate, any chance you might come? It might be interesting to balance the AB against Jewish narratives as well?
(11/7/00 8:40:15 am)
|Re: worth a look|
Oh, how I wish I could work with
such interesting panel members! I know, I know, time and perseverance.
(or is it stubborn persistence?) Perhaps I could be an attendee
next time. When will the next one be held? How much does it usually
cost? (Any need for an assistant for the group?) ::shameless groveling::
Edited by: Kerrie at: 11/7/00
(11/7/00 12:12:49 pm)
It's an open convention always held over Memorial Day weekendin Madison. Wisconsin for a very reasonably fee. Check out their web site www.sf3.wiscon.org. The line up of panels so far looks pretty cool...and the Tiptree Auction is pure theatre!
(11/7/00 2:12:37 pm)
|WISCON url slight correction : )|
(11/7/00 3:45:19 pm)
Aish...Heidi thank you. I am useless at typing site addresses. I always scramble them!