Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mother Goose Refigured: A Critical Translation of Charles Perrault's Fairy Tales (Series in Fairy-Tale Studies) by Christine A. Jones

Mother Goose Refigured: A Critical Translation of Charles Perrault's Fairy Tales (Series in Fairy-Tale Studies) by Christine A. Jones was the first book I learned of at ICFA 37 and promptly preordered once I had access to my computer. Jones presented a paper about her work on this book and I was beyond excited.

I don't have time today to parse my notes. But the short version of why this book is important? It is a fresh translation of Perrault in English, something that hasn't really happened ever, since it was first translated hundreds of years ago. I am often asked to recommend a Perrault translation but there aren't really any unique or definitive ones. I have some minor preferences, but I say minor because most of the differences between existing translations are minor.

Based on her presentation, Jones has attempted to approach the text with new eyes which brings new perceptions of the text to the readers. I will pull my notes and share some of the intricacies and challenges she faced. As an amateur translator myself, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness, research and knowledge that she demonstrated. So, yes, I am excited about a new English translation of Perrault that tries to be faithful to the original French text but not beholden to the cliches and expectations created by roughly three hundred years of the first translations.

Book description:

Charles Perrault published Histoires ou Contes du temps passé ("Stories or Tales of the Past") in France in 1697 during what scholars call the first "vogue" of tales produced by learned French writers. The genre that we now know so well was new and an uncommon kind of literature in the epic world of Louis XIV's court. This inaugural collection of French fairy tales features characters like Sleeping Beauty, Blue Beard, and Puss-in-Boots that over the course of the eighteenth century became icons of social history in France and abroad. Translating the original Histoires ou Contes means grappling not only with the strangeness of seventeenth-century French but also with the ubiquity and familiarity of plots and heroines in their famous English personae.

From its very first translation in 1729, Histoires ou Contes has depended heavily on its English translation for enduring recognition and the genesis of character names. This dependable recognition makes new, innovative translation challenging. For example, can Perrault's invented name "Cendrillon" be retranslated into anything other than "Cinderella"? And what would happen to our understanding of the tale if it were? Is it possible to sidestep the Anglophone tradition and view the seventeenth-century French anew? Why not leave Cinderella alone, as she is deeply ingrained in cultural lore and beloved the way she is? Such questions inspired the translations of these tales in Mother Goose Refigured, which aim to regenerate new critical interest in heroines and heroes that seem frozen in time. The book offers introductory essays on the history of interpretation and translation, before retranslating each of the Histoires ou Contes with the aim to prove that if Perrault's is a classical frame of reference, these tales nonetheless benefit from a modern readership.

Designed for scholars and their classrooms, Mother Goose Refigured promises to inspire new academic interpretations of the Mother Goose tales, particularly among scholars who do not have access to the original French and have relied for their critical inquiries on traditional renderings of the tales.

Friday, March 25, 2016

NRA Rewrites Fairy Tales With More Firearms, Less Bloodshed

Illustration by Amy Hulse, Studio Coronado

So SurLaLune tries to be apolitical as much as possible. So I am going to not comment but will share the following article and links from NPR and the NRA: NRA Rewrites Fairy Tales With More Firearms, Less Bloodshed by CAMILA DOMONOSKE

Adding guns to the world of the Brothers Grimm drastically reduces death rates, according to a study — well, OK, according to a couple of stories published by the NRA.

So far, there are only two data points. And they're imaginary. But the trendline is clear: In the NRA's reimagined fairy tales, putting rifles in the hands of children creates a safer world.

The NRA Family site published its first reimagined fairy tale — "Little Red Riding Hood (Has A Gun)" in January, and followed up with "Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns)" last week.

On Twitter, inspired by the series, a few people have been inventing their own #NRAfairytales, imagining tales that begin with "once upon a time" and end with a bang.

There's much more, so click through to read.

And that's all I have to say about that. Thanks to Val for sharing!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bargain Ebook: The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh for $2.99

Hey y'all, I have been home from my trip to Orlando for about an hour now. I need a nap. Tonight I plan to start composing the posts for this week with book recommendations and such from the ICFA37 conference. For now, I wanted to share this bargain priced book--one that was discussed at the conference--that just dropped to a great bargain ebook price.

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is on sale in ebook format for $2.99! That's a drop of several dollars, the lowest price I've seen for it. The book has been a bestseller and well-received. It is also part of a series with The Rose and the Dagger slated for release in April.

Book description:

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

IAFA 37 Conference: Day 1

Hello all!

I send greetings from Orlando, FL where I am attending IAFA 37. After some airport adventures way too early this morning, we--hubby John is traveling with me although he's not attending the conference itself--arrived safely at the Marriott Hotel where the conference is held. I attended the opening session and the first papers session today and worked to get my tired brain into an academic mode.

First up was The Opening Panel: Wonder Tales with Moderator: Gary K. Wolfe, Delia Sherman (replacing absent Terri Windling), Holly Black and Cristina Bacchilega. The discussion centered around "wonder" as a term and experience, from the perspective of both creators and scholars. Some intriguing comments and questions were shared which I don't feel up to trying to convey here tonight as I write. Quite frankly, I would fail even with the helps of my notes to convey the nuances and tenor of the discussion.

Next up was the first set of sessions for the conference. It is challenging to pick one for each session but this time I chose to attend:

The Power of the Female Body in YA Fairy Tale Adaptations
Chair: Amanda Firestone
The University of Tampa

“And they lived ever after, whether they were happy about it or not”: Rediscovering Possibilities for Female Agency and Exploring
Trauma in Re-Imagined Young Adult Fairy Tales
Annika Herb
University of Newcastle, Australia

Your Body is a Wonderland: Fantasy and Desire in Francesca Lia Block’s The Rose and the Beast
Mandy Mahaffey
Valencia College

Annika Herb's paper primarily discussed the short story, "Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tongue" by Christine Johnson in Grim (Harlequin Teen). The story subverts the classic moral of "Diamonds and Toads" or I should say ATU 480 tales. And, yes, there was some amusement in the audience that this was published under the Harlequin imprint, too.

While both papers were strong and brought much to a fun discussion at the end of the session, this paper resonated with me. I am near finished editing an anthology of ATU 480: Kind and Unkind Girls tales of which Diamonds and Toads is a variant (my upcoming collection has over 150 variants of ATU 480 stories) so discussion of a modern take on the tale--a fascinating interpretation at that--was a fine start to the conference for me. I don't want to spoil it here, but really, go read that story if you are at all familiar with Diamonds and Toads.

This is a short story I will need to revisit since I quickly skimmed it when the book was released a few years ago. I own the book in paper instead of ebook, so that will need to await my return home.

Mandy Mahaffey primarily discussed "Snow" in Francesca Lia Block's The Rose and The Beast: Fairy Tales Retold which I remember pretty vividly from when it was released. I was a YA librarian then in Burbank, CA and that was the only book I ever had challenged. Not surprising considering its content perhaps, but it was on the shelf next to The Gossip Girl series which I thought warranted challenging on so many other levels. This book, while not to all tastes, was important to those needing its fairy tale interpretations, rather Angela Carter for teens.

Anyway, back to the session at hand. The Q&A had some wonderful questions and comments that sparked thoughts and ideas. One request was for feminist fairy tale interpretations for some of our youngest readers, in the ages 4-6 range. A lot of the usual suspects came up, such as Cinder Edna, Princess Furball, Tatterhood, The Paper Bag Princess, Sleeping Ugly and more.

My fatigued brain totally spaced on a more recent title: Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-ups by Stephanie Clarkson (Author), Brigette Barrager (Illustrator). I reviewed the book last year after sharing it with my then 5-year-old niece. It's not a book that shouts feminist messaging, but once you look past the humorous delivery, it really is exactly that.

Another newer title offered for consideration was Shannon Hale's The Princess in Black which doesn't retell a specific fairy tale, but definitely plays with the genre. My niece, now six, adores this series and was just as thrilled to unwrap the most recent release--The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party--for her birthday last month as the bigger, more expensive presents.

So if you can think of more to share, please do so here in the comments. Even if you aren't here at IAFA, you can join the after discussions with us here!

Now I'm off to rest and coddle my brain before exposing it to all the new discussions that await it tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New Release: Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly

Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly was released last month. It is a companion to last year's Monstrous which I have not featured on the blog since it is more of a Frankenstein inspired story although the reviews say there are many fairy tale elements within.

This new book retells Hansel and Gretel in a way that sounds like a cross with the Snow Queen and other tales where sisters rescue brothers. And the witch obviously has some Baba Yaga elements to her.

So looks like fun for readers who like to identify their fairy tale bits and pieces!

Book description:

For fans of tales by the Brothers Grimm, this novel, inspired by the fairytale "Hansel and Gretel," is a riveting and wholly original story of an epic quest and a heroine who will stop at nothing to save the one she loves most. A companion to the author's Monstrous, it will be enjoyed by fans of that book as well as readers who are new to this fully imagined and rich world. Also includes a bonus story, Precious, a prequel to both Monstrous and Ravenous.

A witch has come to the city of Bryre. She travels in a hut that has chicken feet, and she's ravenous for children.

When the witch captures Hans, Greta's little brother, Greta refuses to let her have him. The two strike up a bargain. Greta will retrieve something the witch desires in exchange for her brother's freedom.To get the prize Greta must travel to Belladoma—a city where she was once held captive. With the help of a new friend, Dalen, a magical half-boy and half-horse, Greta embarks on the journey and tries to overcome both foes and her own weaknesses.

Monday, March 7, 2016

New Release: The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins is released this week. I am really excited with this one--I haven't read it yet, don't even have a copy--but it retells a lesser known Grimm tale, The Singing Bone.

The Singing Bone falls into ATU 780 and has several variations. I haven't annotated this on SurLaLune although it has been on my consideration list for years. The tale has been retold by modern authors a few times in short fiction and poetry in the last three decades, but not often--if ever--in novel length.

You can see a list of folklore variations of ATU 780 on D. L. Ashliman's site at The Singing Bone, too.

The book will be part of a duology, The Eurona Duology, so there will be more to come, too from Higgins.

Book description:

Wendy Higgins, the author of the New York Times bestselling Sweet Evil series, reimagines a classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale with The Great Hunt, a dramatic, romance-filled fantasy with rugged hunters, romantic tension, and a princess willing to risk all to save her kingdom.

When a monstrous beast attacks in Eurona, desperate measures must be taken. The king sends a proclamation to the best and bravest hunters: whoever kills the creature will win the hand of his daughter Princess Aerity as a reward. The princess recognizes her duty but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger—she was meant to marry for love—until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. And while there’s no denying the fiery chemistry between them, Princess Aerity feels that Paxton’s mysteriousness is foreboding, maybe even dangerous.

Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He is determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the secrets he’s buried begin to surface against his wishes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

New Release: Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas

Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas was released last week. It is the second book in her A Wicked Thing Book Series. The series retells Sleeping Beauty.

Book description:

The kiss was just the beginning . . . The second book in Rhiannon Thomas’s epic retelling of Sleeping Beauty combines adventure, magic, and romance for a sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny.

Aurora was supposed to be her kingdom’s savior. But when she was forced to decide between being loyal to the crown and loyal to her country, she set events in motion that branded her a traitor.

Now, hunted by the king’s soldiers, Aurora’s only chance of freeing her kingdom from the king’s tyrannical rule is by learning to control her magic. But Aurora’s powers come at a price—one that forces her to leave the only home she’s ever known, one that demands she choose between the man she loves and the people she seeks to protect, and one that will cause her to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before . . . and uncover the truth about her destiny.