Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cinderella #276: According to The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales


Cinderella #276: According to The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales
Oops! He's chopped off her head.
Illustration by Roald Dahl
One upon a time, there lived a man named Jack Zipes.  He spent many years translating and researching fairy tales, including those from Jacob and Willlhelm Grimm.  He also edited an authoritative tome on them.  Here is what he has to say about Cinderella. The story "belongs to a group of tales that have enjoyed both temporal and spacial stability." There are written versions from Europe dating back to 1558, (Bonaventure des PĂ©rieres; 1634,(Basile); and 1697, (Perrault). It was in 1812 that the Grimm Brothers published their first collection of tales. Zipes goes on to say,"The story of this persecuted heroine is easily segmented: girl's mother dies, father remarries and brings to household new daughters; stepmother and stepsisters mistreat her; father is either indifferent or malevolent." In fact, says Mr. Zipes, Cinderella's father "threatens death in Cap O'Rushes,and importunes her sexually in Catskin...she must live and work among the ashes on the hearth...Cinderella is aided by a magical helper (fairy godmother, magical bird, magic tree, enchanted cow, enchanted fish)." Zipes says that versions in which Cinderella goes to a ball three nights in a row are "obeying 'Olrick's law of repetition of three'...The shoe  test that proves her identity has fuelled an academic debate as to the material of the lost slipper. (glass, fur, gold, embroidered silk). However, the test itself matters more than the material details." Of the thousands of modern riffs on this classic story, Zipes believes contemporary authors "have explored the complex of the fictional Cinderella in ways that would astound the classical writers of this tale."
From: Zipes, J. (2000) The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales (p.91)

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