Children's literature

Sunny Sunday Snippets

At last the sun has arrived in Wales so thought I would enjoy an afternoon reading in the garden and writing my Sunday Salon post under blue skies for once. Best laid plans etc etc – instead of peace and tranquility I spent most of the time trying to get the wi-fi connection to work.

Can Mantel do the double?

But I did manage to read a little more of Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s sequel to her Booker-prize winning novel Wolf Hall . in which she  conjures once again the forceful character of King Henry V!!!’s Mr Fix-It chief minister Thomas Cromwell. Bring Up the Bodies has the same  feeling of intimacy and immediacy as the earlier novel largely as a result because events are experienced through the prism of Cromwell’s consciousness and because Mantel uses the present tense narrative style. It gave me the sensation that I too was at the court, embroiled in the jostling for favour with the King and watching the drama of Henry’s  infatuation with Jane Seymour unfold and .  The style does however create one technical difficulty because   Mantel has to keep reminding us whose opinions or views we are actually seeing and sometimes that results in a rather clumsy construction. So we have at one point  ”He, Cromwell …….”. But it’s a minor gripe in what is otherwise a fascinating book.  We’ll know in a couple of days whether the pundits are right and Mantel is a contender for this year’s Booker Prize (the long list is announced ). Can Mantel make it a double?? If she does, she will join an elite list since only two other authors have won the prize for a second time….

Once Upon a Time..

I’ve been reading about the origins of the fairy story today. I never realised that they date from  seventeenth century France and were essentially oral stories told by peasants and were really aimed at adults. They didn’t become a literary form until the aristocracy took them up and began writing them as  a form of entertainment.  Initially they were felt inappropriate for children because they often contained bawdy or lewd elements but authors began realising they could be used for moral and didactic purposes and so rewrote them. By the twentieth century they were considered so important they were included on the schools curriculum in Britain.  It seems fairy stories have gone through cycles of reinvention and rejuvenation – there are more than 1,000 versions of Cinderella alone. There is a fascinating collection of versions of the canonical stories at which has been developed by a former librarian. I also discovered today that the Wizard of Oz is really a critique of American society – when Dorothy returns from Oz it is to discover that the banks are ruining local farmers (sounds familiar!)


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

3 thoughts on “Sunny Sunday Snippets

  • Not officially, but my own thought would be that folk tales are those which are are truly those passed on from oral tales told by the people, whereas fairy tales are written for the purpose by writers who want to pass on their own moral position. You might be interested in a post I have going up tomorrow morning.

  • Have you ever come across an explanation of the difference between fairy tales and folk tales Alex?

  • Fairy stories are rather my thing if only because as a researcher into narrative structure they make useful fodder because they are short. The Cinderella question is a very interesting one. Not only is there is almost every culture’s folk literature but we keep reinventing it every time we write a ‘ from rags to riches’ novel.

    And thanks for reminding me about the Booker long list. Thank goodness this year I have so much on I can’t be tempted to try and read them all. Normally I set myself up with them and then fail miserably – so bad for the ego:)


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