…to Grandmother’s House

Arthur-Rackham-Grimm-Fairy-Tales

I have a very clear childhood memory of reading from a rather heavy volume of Grimm’s Fairy Tales that belonged to my Grandmother; hard-backed with thick pages of text interspersed with occasional colour plates.  Of course I sought out the familiar tales, Rumpelstiltskin, Jack the giant-killer, but these were somewhat darker than the versions I had known previously, where the wicked step-mother was made to wear a pair of shoes that made her dance until her feet bled.

And there were stories in this collection that were new to me, like the one about the two sisters Snow White and Rose Red, and these odd stories puzzled me by their transgression from the comfort of the simple format of a morality tale, hinting at a complexity of moral uncertainty and ambiguity outside of more experience or understanding.

I never gave up on nor outgrew fairy stories, though there may have been a time when I would have considered stories of Goldilocks and her kind to be childish, for I had moved on to more sophisticated fantasies that could boast of a more literary pedigree, by named authors, no less, such as Lewis Carroll,  Kenneth Grahame, C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien.  Yet, I have never forgotten and am haunted still by those old folk tales of Ashputtel, talking fish and singing, ringing trees, tales that probably were not originally intended as exclusively juvenile fare, and which whisper half-forgotten truths of the mysteries haunting the corners of the world.

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