Synopses & Reviews
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall brings together twenty-five of our foremost contemporary women writers to discuss, in poetic narratives, evocative personal histories, and philosophical inquiries, how the tales included here affected their thinking about emotion, self, gender and culture. In these pages, you will find narratives on self-image, spiritual biographical journeys, and wary inspections of fairy tales' influence. Some writers found rapt symmetry in these popular stories; others rebelled and discovered the secrets of subterfuge. A few later used fairy tales in writing their own adult work.
Rather than ask "Why this collection now?", one might more appropriately ask "Why not until now?" The exaggerated characters in many fairy tales, from the "Evil Queen," to the "True Bride," in addition to striking a note heard throughout Western culture, provide interesting challenges to and mirrors of women's complex conceptions of themselves. Fairy tales are full of women looking at themselves: In "Snow White," the stepmother is haunted by her own aging image in the mirror, and speaks to it; and in the lesser known, but particularly haunting "Clever Else," a young woman who awakens with a strange lack of identity runs everywhere looking for her own image. So it is for so many women throughout history.
For everyone who has grown up on, been bewitched or infuriated by, or at some time in their lives fallen in love with fairy tales, this book is an enchanting journey of discovery.
New edition (revised and expanded) available 8/13/02.
Fairy tales are one of the most enduring forms of literature, their plots retold and characters reimagined for centuries. In this elegant and thought-provoking collection of original essays, Kate Bernheimer brings together twenty-eight leading women writers to discuss how these stories helped shape their imaginations, their craft, and our culture. In poetic narratives, personal histories, and penetrating commentary, the assembled authors bare their soul and challenge received wisdom. Eclectic and wide-ranging, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall is essential reading for anyone who has ever been bewitched by the strange and fanciful realm of fairy tales.
Contributors include: Alice Adams, Julia Alvarez, Margaret Atwood, Ann Beattie, Rosellen Brown, A. S. Byatt, Kathryn Davis, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Deborah Eisenberg, Maria Flook, Patricia Foster, Vivian Gornick, Lucy Grealy, bell hooks, Fanny Howe, Fern Kupfer, Ursula K. Le Guin, Carole Maso, Jane Miller, Lydia Millet, Joyce Carol Oates, Connie Porter, Francine Prose, Linda Gray Sexton, Midori Snyder, Fay Weldon, Joy Williams, Terri Windling.
Fairy tales and their exaggerated characters, from the "evil stepmother" to the "virginal bride", have been a resonant chord throughout Western culture, providing provocative challenges to and mirrors of women's complex sense of themselves - and the expectations of the world around them. In Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Kate Bernheimer brings together twenty-four of our foremost contemporary women writers to discuss, in poetic narratives, evocative personal histories, and penetrating essays, how the fairy tales we all grew up with - from "Cinderella" and "Little Red Riding Hood" to "Bluebeard" and "The Princess and the Pea" - have affected their emotional lives, their work, and the culture they live in. For some of the writers, fairy tales were their first formative experience of literature, and several turned to fairy tales in creating their own fiction as adults. Others rebelled utterly at the cultural stereotypes and the roles assigned to women in these tales, and in their essays explore the impact such fairy tales have had on our mores and thinking.
A brilliant collection of original essays by many of our leading women on the fairy tales that have shaped their lives and work. Contributors include Alice Adams, Margaret Atwood, Ann Beattie, Rosellen Brown, A.S. Byatt, Chitra B. Divakaruni, Lucy Grealy, Joyce Carol Oates, and many others.
Table of Contents
The Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood in the Coffin House
An Autobiography of Scheherazade
Of Souls as Birds
John, Whose Disappearance Was Too Bad
It Is You the Fable Is About
A. S. Byatt
Ice, Snow, Glass
Why I Don't Like Reading Fairy Tales
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Princess in the Palace of Snakes
In a Trance of Self
The Rope Bridge to Sex
Little Red Cap
Taking a Long Hard Look at "The Princess and the Pea"
To Love Justice
Ursula K. Le Guin
The Wilderness Within
The Wife Kller
Joyce Carol Oates
In Olden Times, When Wishing Was Having: Classic and Contemporary Fairy Tales
Rapunzel Across Time and Space
Linda Gray Sexton
Bones and Black Puddings: Revisiting "The Juniper Tree"
The Monkey Girl
The Journey to Mr. Fox