Beyond the Ever After

Once upon a time, I started talking about fairy tales and I have not stopped.

Today I posted up my hundred and twenty first Fairy Tale Tuesday, and my last, and I’m feeling a bit emotional about that. This project has been a big part of my life for the past two and a half years, almost since I first started blogging. Because of this project I’ve found some of my favourite stories ever – like, up until a year ago I had never heard of Princess Blue-Eyes and now I drop her into conversation WHENEVER I CAN because she’s the best (I’d include a link but WordPress is still having none of that. Try searching ‘ivan and the princess blue-eyes’ on my blog). Because I was writing Fairy Tale Tuesdays and I needed another story fast, I grabbed books off my shelves I’d never got around to reading before. That’s how I met Tokoyo and the Sun Princess and so many others. I shared my favourites here, the stories I felt like only I had ever read, and I like to think there are people out there I will never meet who now have those stories in their heads too. I shared the ones I hated, the cockroach stories that made me grind my teeth and growl over my keyboard. Folklore has a nasty side. It’s not wise to forget that.

I started this project mostly because I really love fairy tales, but I was also infuriated at the way I kept seeing them diminished to cardboard clichΓ©s. Though people tend to revert to the same core of classics when they think of fairy tales, there’s a wide wicked world out there where all your expectations will be ripped into tiny pieces and trampled by the hooves of a really vicious unicorn. Heroines are not always beautiful, or good, and they’re sure as hell not all confined to towers. They can go on quests, learn sorcery, battle their enemies, marry sorcerers or witch’s sons. You don’t need to shove a sword in your princess’s hand to make her strong. If she wants one, she’ll take it. In fact, she might not be a princess at all. Royal blood is not a requirement for kindness or courage.

Princes can be evil. They can be innocent. They can be ensorcelled and imprisoned, in need of a brave maiden’s rescue. A youngest son isn’t always right and an eldest isn’t always wrong. A troll’s daughter can become a queen. Dragons can become foster parents. These are stories that need to be remembered, retold, reimagined. Fairy tales are anything but simple. They are wild and thorny and strange, tangles of gold and briar, and in their bittersweet soil grow the most fantastic flowers of the imagination.

I am not ending Fairy Tale Tuesdays because I’ve run out of material. There are enough folk tales in the world to keep me going for many years yet, but this road has become too familiar and I need a new horizon. So I’m starting a project on an altogether larger scale – one I’ve been planning to try for years. I’m going to read my way through the entire Thousand and One Nights and blog the whole thing. The first part will go up on the 6th of January, 2015.

It may take a while.

I would like to say thank you to every reader who has shared the Fairy Tale Tuesday project with me. To everyone who commented and linked to my posts, particular good wishes go your way – sometimes writing is a little like singing from a tower, never really expecting to be heard, and it can come as the best surprise to know someone cares about the same thing you do. I hope that you will have just as much fun with the Sharazad Project. In the meantime: may there always be a path in your dark forest and a happy ending waiting over the next page. The story you need most is out there somewhere.

So go find it.

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6 thoughts on “Beyond the Ever After

  1. OH! OH! OH! What version are you reading?!?! I want to do a READ-ALONG! πŸ˜€ My partner is buying me the 1960s, three-volume version and I’ve been wanting to read it FOREVER! πŸ˜€

    • P.S.- I’ll miss the fairytale reviews. I hope you’ll add a menu link for quick referencing to all of those beautiful posts so when I’m looking for a recommendation, I know where to go. πŸ™‚

      • Collecting all the posts in one place is a big job – and requires the ability to create links, which is not possible for me at present since my computer is having a mid-life crisis – so it may take me a while, but a proper index of stories is my eventual goal. I’m delighted that you enjoyed reading them!

      • Well, if you used a common tag for all of those posts, you can do it from dashboard really easily! I do it on my blig for various posts. πŸ™‚

    • First of all – your partner wins at gift-giving! The version I’ll be using is the three-volume Penguin Classics edition from 2008, translated by Malcolm C. Lyons and Ursula Lyons. If you have time to read along, I’d LOVE to hear what differences you notice between the translations. Sharing stories is the best!

      • Will do! I’ll have the book in hand in a couple days. I’d love to compare translations! How fun! πŸ˜€

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