Feminist Fairy-Tale Scholarship A Critical Survey and Bibliography.pdf

The brothers grimm 141 emphasis mine published tales

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]" (The Brothers Grimm 141; emphasis mine). Published tales like "Cinderella," in other words, could store and transmit matriarchal values that remained camouflaged or embedded in the tale type, despite the changes wrought by patriarchy and the written word. Indeed, in another feminist reading of Cinderella variants, Louise Bernikow argued that Grimms' version of the story had actually preserved its matriarchal thrust. Unlike the versions by Perrault and Disney, who had severely minimized woman's power, Grimms' "Cinderella," according to Bernikow, maintained the powerful connection between mother and daughter, who are pitted against a woman compromised bypatriarchy.23 However, feminist readings in general have relied less on the historical view of matriarchal social orders thanon the argument that storytelling is "semiotically a female art." Karen E. Rowe articulated that point of view in 1986 by pointing not only to women's traditional role as storytellers, but also to the ways in which they have been represented as the spinners of tales in folktale collections, frame stories, and literary tales. She showed that through their association with the fates, fairies, and spinning, women are identified with the art and power of spinning tales. The history ofthe male appropriation of folktales is the history of the male's attempt to control this female power, to co-opt the female art of storytelling: To have the antiquarian Grimm Brothers regarded as the fathers of modern folklore is perhaps to forget the maternal lineage, the "moth- ers" who in the French veillées and English nurseries, in court salons and the German Spinnstube, in Parisand on the Yorkshire moors, passed on their wisdom. The Grimm brothers, like Tereus, Ovid, King Shahryar, Basile, Perrault, and others reshaped what they could not precisely comprehend, because only for women does the thread, which spins out the loreoflife itself, create a tapestry to be fully readand understood. Strand by strand weaving [ . . . ] is the true art of the fairy tale - and it is, I would submit, semiotically a female art. (68, 71) Beyond this explanation for the male appropriation of the female voice,24 Rowe suggested "that in the history offolktale and fairy tale, women as storytellers have woven or spun their yarns, speaking at one level to a total culture, but at another to a sisterhood ofreaders who will understand the hidden language, thesecret revelations of the tale" (57). In this view the fairy talebecomes a codedtext in which the female voice, despite the attempt by men to control it, not only continues to speak, but speaks a secret, subversive language.25 Like the historical theory of disguised matriarchal myths, Rowe's arguments reclaimed 29
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DONALD HAASE the fairy tale for women and provided reasons for feminist scholars and readers to reassess the genre's significance for women.
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  • Fall '19
  • Fairy tale, Grimm, Grimms, tales,as Rowe, exchangebetweenLurieand Lieberman

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