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sarahbethdurst in re_mused

Snow White

As some of you may recall, every once in a while I do a post on my blog about obscure fairy tales that I learned about while doing research for my forthcoming novel, INTO THE WILD.  Well, this week, in honor of the upcoming publication of INTO THE WILD (it's coming out on Thursday!!!), I decided to talk about a very non-obscure fairy tale: Snow White.  If interested, click here.

So, what do you guys think of Snow White?


Let's be clear here: murder bad. Cannabalism bad.

Awwww . . . but without those, I wouldn't have my short story "The Snow-White Heart"! (Which I really hope will get published. Shadowed Realms is going under, but is supposed to print all its backlog of purchases before doing so.)

I've hit the Snow White story three times now. The aforementioned one is all about the necromancy and cannibalism, "The Mirror's Tale" has to do with a certain smart-ass and interfering magical artifact, and "Nesu-a" . . . well, the circumstances of her waking to the prince are just a teeny bit different. All of those are less than 1K in length -- the latter two are below 500 -- but I do have a longer version in mind, that I may write someday if it stops being at high risk of trite feminism in my head. (I've got no problem with feminism, but trite feminism . . . I botched an entire novel into that once, and it wasn't pretty.)

Snow White has some of the usual gender problems: passive heroine, evil stepmother, and on top of it all the dubious domestic arrangements with the dwarves. (I'm pretty sure Bettelheim reads the dwarves as Snow White's repressed denial of adult sexuality. Go go gadget Freudian readings!) Of the retellings I've done, the ones that have turned Snow White into a more active person have also turned her into a bad one. (She tries to murder her stepmother in "The Mirror's Tale," and in "The Snow-White Heart" . . . well, let's just say the story starts with her heart being cut out and fed to the queen, but that doesn't stop Snow White.) You could probably make her active without that, though. Most of my fairy-tale retellings have involved doing something horrific with the originals.
"Go go gadget..." LOL!

The eating of the heart is quite the vivid image.

Is your Mirror's Tale online anywhere? I'd love to read it.
Both "The Mirror's Tale" and "Nesu-a" are a part of a set -- "Never After: Twelve Tales" -- which is going to be in Weird Tales one of these days, though I don't yet know which issue they'll be slotted into.
I love Snow White, I really do. It's a tale that's almost entirely about the relationship between a mother and her daughter, and how it gets distorted under patriarchal conditions.

I have a Snow White rewrite that I'm currently shopping around playing up the homoeroticism in the tale: what does it really mean to be so obsessed with another woman's beauty?

To be honest, I never thought of Snow White as dumb; she's playing out the role that the story needs. Did you ever read Delia Sherman's "Snow White to the Prince"? I think you can find it on Endicott Studio, and in it she articulates an understanding of the tale that I find particularly moving: that SW knows full well that the peddler is her mother, and doesn't care, because she just wants to see her mother smile at her, and feel her combing her hair, the way she used to.
Ooh, I haven't read that yet, but I love Delia's writing. Have you read Changeling? Really excellent.
The longer Snow White I have in my head spins on the idea that Snow White got herself stuck in a dysfunctional situation with the dwarves, and her mother/stepmother is attempting to help her fake her death (a la the friar in Romeo and Juliet) to get her out of there.

January 2008


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