Saturday, January 19, 2013

Part 4 of Only in a Fairy Tale

Only in a Fairy Tale:

Discerning the Form through the Art of Illustration

Part 4

Reality of the Brutality

Fairy tales, especially from the Brothers Grimm, have some surprisingly violent moments and perhaps even more interesting is the almost blasé way that these moments are related, meaning that these moments are not really dwelled upon or emotionalized, they simply are.  These include everything from The Juniper Tree, where a young boy is murdered by his mother and feasted upon by his father to the abducting and massacring of maidens in Fitcher’s Bird and the more well known wolf surgery scene in Red Riding Hood.  More than most versions of Red Riding Hood, Zwerger’s illustrations emphasize the surgical procedure that is about to happen.  While we as readers must suspend our disbelief in coming to terms with the fact that Red and her Grandmother are still alive after being devoured by the wolf, there is nothing magical in the practicality of exhuming them from within the wolf.  The woodcutter takes on the role of doctor in Zwerger’s scene.  Moreover, Zwerger does not shy away from actually showing us, in the moment, what it would have looked like to see Grandmother coming out of the incised belly of the wolf, perhaps all that is missing is some blood, or maybe the woodcutter is just that talented.

Part 5, which will be the last installment of this Only in a Fairy Tale series, will expand on this area a bit more, so stay tuned!  If you've missed parts 1-3 you can find them here, here and here.


  1. I was Red Riding Hood for Halloween. :)

    A friend of mine recently read the Roald Dahl version of Little Red Riding Hood and pronounced it her favorite version.

    1. Hahaha I just read that this past week in my Golden Age of children's lit class! Very different, but definitely interesting and totally something he would do. There's also a retelling by Dahl on The three little pigs, and Red Riding Hood comes into it and sort of "helps" them out...