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.theguardian - 7 days ago

The Fairest of Them All by Maria Tatar review – the many faces of Snow White

Sultans? Pomegranates? Red hot shoes? Most people know the Disney version of Snow White, but the story has taken various forms in different culturesThis selection of Snow White tales from around the world ends on an unfamiliar note. In the Moroccan story “The Jealous Mother”, beautiful Lalla does everything you might expect of a self-respecting heroine. After running away from a rivalrous older woman, she takes refuge as housekeeper to seven ghouls, gets tricked into ingesting a ring that propels her into a coma, before awakening from apparent death many months later. The seven ghouls are thrilled when Lalla turns out to be safe but, unlike the seven dwarfs, they have no intention of handing over their domestic drudge to a handsome prince anytime soon. “Now,” they say, “never answer the door for anyone! Never go out! We cannot afford losing you again!” And so they all live happily ever after.It is sly of folklorist Maria Tatar to end her book with a tale in which Snow White is instructed to stay home and do the washing up rather than follow her own desire. Sly because it goes so spectacularly against the direction of traffic over the past four decades during which feminist scholars and writers have strenuously read against the patriarchal grain of our most familiar folktales. Starting with Angela Carter’s short story collection The Bloody Chamber and continuing through to Disney’s 2013 blockbuster Frozen, the modern princess is expected to be a bit of a badass. She rules, she fights but, most importantly, she tells the boys what to do. Continue reading...

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