I love fairy tales. They fed my childhood with stories and pictures. I never believed them. I knew they were stories. I didn’t want to meet a prince (like I’ve previously said, I’d rather have been the prince, finding myself a sweet maiden) and I was never really into the happy ever after. It seemed a quick summary for a very long time. Something followed bluntly by The End. But despite the obviously heteronormative side to them that little me found, even then, not so thrilling, the fairy tales had powerful magic in them, full of new places, strange ideas and freedom for the imagine.
When I was little I read every fairy tales I could find again and again. As a grown up, I’ve read them, studied them, explored the tongue of the tales right down to the roots. Of course I read Angela Carter’s reimaginings, the new Stephen King and so many more new tales and versions of the old ones. And I’ve written my own.
On my ‘Stories for you to read’ page you can read my version of The Little Mermaid. The original tale is very messed up. Some people think it was a gay tale, others see it as religious patriarchal misogyny reflective of the times, other simply like it. It is needless to say absolutely nothing like the Disney version. In the original version dead sailors float down to the mermaids gardens, and the witch is pretty awesome: Awesome here meaning, she is the big bad.
My version, ‘Treading on Needles’, draws on the darkness of the original tale. The misogyny and violence are still there but subtly softened, like a loving kick in the head. I tried to recreate the shift of new, true love into a total destruction of the other. I easily followed the original tale, but of course my mermaid has more bite!
Give it a read. It works on its own but it could be fun to read the original Hans Anderson tale first. You can get it online as a free pdf. It is so interesting to read. Trust me. It’ll make you smile (oh so not).
Next post I’ll tell you about my version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. If I get some requests, I may even share it. It’s very funny, very adult, and divinely fucked up.
Image: Edmund Dulac’s illustration for “The Little Mermaid” in Stories from Hans Andersen (1911))