Monday, September 13, 2010

Fairy tales and Yeats

Why do we think of fairy tales as being for children?
I asked myself this, not for the first time after reading through "Irish Fairy and Folk Tales" collected by W.B. Yeats (thanks, Jason).
I've rediscovered a passion for all things Irish, and these tales sure fill the bill. But they're hardly stories for children.
Pat Diver in "Far Darrig in Donegal" can't escape the giants who follow him across the countryside. Mrs. Sullivan's baby has been replaced by a creature of a different sort in "The Brewery of Egg-Shells." And Teig O'Kane has one harrowing night before coming to his senses and choosing the straight and narrow in "Teig O'Kane and the Corpse."
Bedtime stories that will ensure no sleeping takes place, no doubt.
Yeats adds some delightful notes regarding placement of the stories in various sections and their translations from the Irish.
Got me to thinking about other favorite fairy tales.
I'm a bit partial to the Grimms' "Hansel and Gretel." But (when they were younger!) my kids would've been up all night after hearing how the two are led into the woods and left for dead because their family had too many mouths to feed, only to be captured by a woman who wants to fatten them up and eat them.
Or how about "Little Red Riding Hood," a young girl alone in the forest (who thought that was safe?!). She stops and talks to a wolf (bad idea number two) and then tells him where she is going (we've got a trifecta!). Does anyone over the age of 5 think this story is going to end well?
Got any favorite fairy tales? I'm back to more Yeats.

- Tricia Ambrose

P.S. Like libraries? Like Natalie Merchant? She's coming to town at 7 p.m. Oct. 11  to perform at the Ohio Theatre in PlayhouseSquare, 1511 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. Proceeds  will benefit the Cuyahoga County Public Library Foundation. For tickets, call 216-241-6000 or visit: Tickets range from $35 to $75.

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