(1/21/02 9:02:16 pm)
| Fairy Godmothers|
I have had some thoughts recentlyand I was wondering if people might know…
Have there been any collections put together of stories involving fairy godmothers?
It seems that in the stories I've read that fairy godmothers seem to help mostly females, who are cruelly abused by their families or abandoned somehow.
What are people's thoughts on fairy godmothers and their roles in stories? How could they play a role in today's society? (I realize that there was a thread dealing with this topic some time ago, but I wanted to revive it again.)
(1/23/02 6:56:25 am)
| Re: Fairy Godmothers|
Luciana, I don't know of any collections that focus on fairy godmothers, but if anyone else does, I'd like to hknow about them too. I'm glad you brought this topic up for discussion. I'm scheduled to do a small (two-person) art exhibition in England this summer on the topic of "Godmothers" and I want to do something with fairy godmother imagery. I'm thinking possibly thirteen images, representing the thirteen fairies in the Sleeping Beauty story, but thinking about what fairy gifts a modern girl might most need.
My offhand impression is that fairy godmothers play a larger part in the fairy tales from the French salon literary tradition than in other kinds of tales (Basile, Grimms, Andersen...) but I could be wrong about that. Does anyone here know? I'd love some good references on the history of fairy godmothers if anyone here has any....
I'm also reminded of the discussion we had on fairy godmothers when we were discussing fairy tale themes in Jane Austen's books. Also, the discussion that prompted Midori and Jane to start writing fairy godmother correspondence....
(1/23/02 9:10:19 am)
| Re: Fairy Godmothers|
Great questions! I think that this should make for a fascinating discussion. I actually have a half-finished thing (too long for a paper, not quite a book ... what's the academic equivalent of a novella?) dealing with the metaphors that people use for the acquisition of maggic. In ancient Greece, the centaur, in the middle ages, the magician, during the Renaissance, the alchemist (i.e., Hermes Trismagisthus), and, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, from the contes onward, the fairy godmother. Many of the archetypes from the stories of the contes de fees survived and prospered in later literary period as tropes of the fairy tale genre. The fairy godmother, heretofore almost unknown, is a prime example. Fairy godmothers are seen by many to be emblematic of the tellers of the tales themselves. These fairy godmothers, much like the women who created them, possessed what power they held as their power as inherent qualities - in this case, social power being the symbol represented by the metaphor of magic, as social power permitted them to gain the knowledge to create their tales, and to dessimate them - but the assistance that they imparted was not necessarily political, financial, or matrimonial. Frequently, their assistance (which did, admittedly, typically lead to their hero/ines achieving success in one of the former categories) was purely intellectual, coming in the form of encouragement, advice, or education, completing the connection between magic, knowledge, and power. In their eyes, power served to allow access to knowledge, and knowledge imbued the possessor with power - and both were synonomous with magic. Told during the reign of the Sun King, these tales were subversive entities, seen by some as either contributing to the attitudes that would later spawn the French Revolution, or as being emblematic of the existence of such attitudes already in society. Nevertheless, the idea of the fairy god-mother survived to reappear in Victorian England. Their beneficiaries were mostly women, but many Victorian fantasists also paired them with male protagonists - George MacDonald pops most hastily to mind.
I can't think of any collections dealing solely with Godmother tales, but Elizabeth Anne Scarborough has an interesting series based on the idea of a society of godmothers (the first one is the best, in my humble opinion), and a good number of the stories from _kissing the Witch_ seem to deal with related topics.
As for what they'd do in today's society *gleefully rubs hands together* I'll have to leave that for a later post, since I'm already running late, but what an excellent idea to think over! Gods know that we could use a few ...
Terri, the exhibition sounds as though it will be fascinating! Since i doubt that I'll be lucky enough to get to England, do you know if the images will be available in the States (traveling exhibit, or collected edition, etc.)?
Jane and Midori: are you still working on that, by the way? It looked *fascinating*.
(1/23/02 1:55:13 pm)
Seems I just read an article on fairy godmothers, but I can't remember where. Perhaps in Marvels & Tales--I'll check and repost as soon as I know. Neat topic.
Terri, your upcoming show sounds great. Ditto Helen's wish to know if the images will be viewable elsewhere!
(1/23/02 4:44:51 pm)
| our story|
Midori and I are slowly pecking away at it. It's in letters back and forth and we have finally discovered a plot!
But as I am in the midst of a family medical crisis, I probably won't get back to it for a while.
(1/24/02 7:36:59 am)
| Re: our story|
Helen, what a great post! Much food for thought here...and I'll add more of my own thoughts on the subject on a morning when I'm less in a rush than this one...
Regarding the Godmothers art, I'll probably put them up on the Endicott site some time this autumn -- provided they turn out well enough!
Jane: You and your family are much in my thoughts and in my prayers.
(1/24/02 7:39:23 am)
Thank you all for your wonderful responses! So much food for thought!
Thank you, Helen and Kate.
How I wish I were able to travel to England to see your work! If
there is some way you can share with us your art, that would be
just fantastic. I am really interested in the sort of gifts that
might be bestowed upon a modern girl. Instead of golden hair or
a sweet disposition, perhaps unflappable self-confidence or a black
belt in karate?
I hope that you and your family get through your crisis. I very much enjoyed your godmother correspondence with Midori.
I have had an idea gestating in my brain for a while now, which started with a single image. It was in part that series of letters that inspired me. I live in NYC, and one day, while riding the subway, I thought, how funny if one of these fellow passengers on the train was in fact a fairy godmother, on her way to her next assignment? I thought of a lady in her overcoat, wearing sneakers with her stockings, and her wings peeping out the bottom of her coat. It was such a strong image for me, that I kept thinking about it, trying to figure out the story.
I realize now that I had read the first of Elizabeth Scarborough's books and now I am worried that perhaps I am just spooging off her idea. But I am so excited about the possibilities of what I could do that I don't want to abandon this. Lately, I ha been stuck in a creative rut, and it is nice to feel the artistic juices flowing once again.
At any rate, I would like to keep this thread going, just because the responses have been so interesting.
(1/27/02 11:17:54 pm)
I've been reading your posts and doing some thinking. Could the fairy godmother possibly be a descendant of that old woman we see sitting on the side of the road helping polite third sons? There are definetley parallells, to my mind anyway. And I suppose, if you really wanted to, more parallells could be drawn all the way back to the crone aspect of the three faced goddess. This is interesting, I've never really thought of it before. I think I'd like to see a collection of stories on the godmother -- what is her story? Why choose this particular damosel in distress to help? Has she (the godmother) perhaps been in the same situation before? This is what happens to my mind when I spend 4 straight hours on chemistry.