A Girl, A Shoe, A Prince: The Endlessly Evolving Cinderella - Linda Holmes, NPR's Monkey See:
"The idea that animates the classic Cinderella is that the prince would not be free to consider Cinderella a desirable mate if he first saw her as she is, but he can meet her under false pretenses and fall in love with her. And, most importantly, once achieved, that love will be durable enough to survive her reversion to her real identity. Getting him to literally recognize her — getting him to look at a woman in rags and realize she's the woman he wants to marry — seems to function as sort of a stand-in for him proving that he can overlook her low status and choose her as a partner. Whether that's more a fantasy of romantic love or a fantasy of economic security, power and rescue from a lifetime of washing floors may depend on who's telling it and who's hearing it and when."[more inside]
Neil Gaiman: Why Disney's Sleeping Beauty doesn't work (Gaby Wood for The Guardian):
"I feel like some kind of alchemist," Gaiman suggests. "I have to go to the cupboard and take one ounce of Snow White and two ounces of Sleeping Beauty, and heat the Sleeping Beauty and froth the Snow White and mix them together: it's kind of like fusion cuisine. It tastes like both of them but it's actually a new dish."
Are fairy tales back in fashion? Certainly, the recent success of Disney's films Frozen and Maleficent seems to point to something. But most of the fairy tales we know have come to us via 17th century France or 19th century Germany, and have since been subject to so many retellings and rebellions that trends are difficult to map.
"It is somewhat of a mystery why the English-speaking world has had to wait until 1981 for the first translation of the Deutsche Sagen (German Legends) by the Brothers Grimm. After all, the Legends, which first appeared in 1816 and 1818, were translated into French, Danish, and even Rumanian in the nineteenth century, and have always been considered a vital source book for folklorists and critics alike. Perhaps we have always assumed that the German Legends had been translated since many of them are known through romances, novels, adaptations, selective translations, films, comic books, and references in critical studies. The two most famous examples are Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser and Robert Browning's 'The Children of Hameln.'"-Jack Zipes, in an approving review of Donald Ward's translation of the Legends. Ward's work has since fallen out of print, but you can read select legends at the eclectic Golden Scales folktale collection.
Historical versions of Aesop's fables - text and pictures - collected by Laura Gibbs. She gives thousands of historic texts in English, Latin, and Greek, but even better, has Flickr sets of the historic illustrations (that page is sorted by artist) from editions by Rackham, Caldecott, and other artists going back to the 1400s. [more inside]
Peasant culture and Russian folklore in Soviet animation (~400 minutes whereof): Soviet animation abounds in fantasies about the natural, wholesome lives of honorable, strong-willed Russian peasants and folk heroes and their struggles against villainy and adversity. Decorated with splendid folk art motifs that verge on horror vacui, these cel-animated cartoons are excellent aids for learning about (popular conceptions of) Russian folk material culture: decoration, architecture, dress, weaponry, textiles, domestic culture, manners, and so on. [more inside]
Originally published by Finnish forkloristAntti Aarne and expanded by American Stith Thompson and German Hans-Jörg Uther, the Aarne-Thompson Classification System is a system for classifying folktales based on motifs. [more inside]
The Uysal - Walker Archive of Turkish Oral Narrative is an immense repository of folktales from modern Anatolia. The full list of stories but luckily there's a search function. But that's not all, oh no, there's also a music section, with downloadable mp3s and a whole nother section with more stories and Turkish literature and mp3s. Here's a somewhat random selection of stories to get you started (all links pdf): Nasreddin Hoca's Brilliant Donkey, A Saint Urinates in Public, The Girl Disguised as a Monk and the Padishah's Youngest Son, Behlül Dane Discourses with the Dung Heap and finally, Elia Kazan in Kayseri (yes, that Elia Kazan).