Essay on Once Upon A Time, By Marina Warner

1152 Words Nov 17th, 2015 5 Pages
Published in 2014, Marina Warner’s short novel, Once Upon a Time, discusses the breadth and oeuvre of the fairy tale genre, delving into its progression into children’s literature and the darkening of themes in recent years as part of a reclamation process. The novel is presented as a history of the fairy tale, spanning from the first mentions of the worlds of faery, on into the 21st century to look at adaptations, particularly film and theater re-imaginings of the words and worlds of the fairy tale. However, in the opening prologue, Warner offers the reader a metaphor, illuminating the history of the fairy tale as map, whose vast landscape encompasses the works of Perrault and the Grimm brothers as noted landmarks, but extends far beyond their borders. Then, she posits the whole scene, the map and the ocean of Story surrounding the world in its fluid embrace, as an advent calendar, whose windows can be opened to peek in on gatherings of storytellers and inventors. These windows, she states, are numberless, and “the light keeps changing over the scene, now plunging a once prominent element into shadow, then turning its beam on another hitherto disregarded part of the territory” (XV). The fairy tale, when it is in the space of the forest, is shrouded in darkness, bound to the rules of the forest and its twisting path underneath the foliage of structured plots and stock characters.
Fairy tale characters do not diverge from the path. It is only when they become postmodern…

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