(9/9/00 7:57:12 am)
I am working on my graduate thesis on the subject of the stepmother motif in contemporary Cinderella tales. I am wondering if anyone has read Peter Straub's Ashputtle. I would love to get another opinion on the development of some of the characters. This tale is found in Black Thorn, White Rose edited by Datlow and Windling.
Hope to hear from someone! Thanks.
(9/9/00 5:01:21 pm)
Jennifer: I'm the editor (with Ellen Datlow) of the anthology Black Thorn, White Rose. What specifically did you want to know about Peter's story?
(9/9/00 9:57:29 pm)
Thanks for responding. I suppose I am still trying to digest the insinuations of the tale. For example, is it your understanding that Zena played a part in the mother's death? I am also trying to articulate the symbolism of the wallpaper; perhaps she identified with the "fat yellow", but I can't seem to find words for it. For me, this is one of those tales that I need to "talk through"--so I appreciate any input you may have. By the way, in my stepmother analysis I am also using tales by Tanith Lee, Jane Yolen and Angela Carter. Thanks, Terri. I really appreciate your taking the time to respond.
(9/13/00 11:00:11 pm)
Regarding whether Zena killed the mother, I don't find it conclusive one way or the other. Peter makes it clear that the narrator learned (or thinks she learned, since she's an unreliable narrator) her lethal ways from Zena; and he makes a point of saying that the mother died in the same parlor where Zena used to come to call. But he never states such a fact clearly; and in the folktale, the stepmother is not implicated in the mother's death. The ambiguity all around is a major part of Peter's tale, in that we have a narrator who is damaged and psychotic, and we can never know how much truth there is in her point of view.
I think the narrator identifies with the "fat yellow" in the wallpaper, as opposed to the thin white lines of the "stepsisters" ... and I suspect that the device of the wallpaper is connected in some regard with the art of Agnes Martin. (See the Author's Note at the end of the story.)
Peter read this story at a reading we did together in New York last fall. When you hear it in his voice, it's an extremely funny story -- albeit the humor is quite dark.
I'll be off-line for a few days while travelling, but perhaps others on this board will throw in a few opinions...?
(10/23/00 7:53:21 am)
Atom Egoyan, a canadian director, produced an
award winning film entitled "Exotica". The film
portrays a number of the themes that may or may not
be relevant to your take on Ashputtle.
I did a comparative essay on the matter, and found
that by watching Exotica I gathered a different angle
on the story.
Even if you don't use anything for your thesis, Exotica
is likely a film you'd enjoy. I'm also assuming you've read Carter's essays on Ashputtle?
(11/4/00 7:24:03 am)
'just browsin' mentioned that Angela Carter has written essays on Ashputtle. I can't find them anywhere. Does anyone know where I might locate these essays? They would be most helpful.