Mar 17, 2010


by Marielle Carlisle

First off, Happy St. Patrick's Day! The leprechauns came to our house last night, spiking the milk green and using the loo. You'd think they'd at least have the decency to flush the toilet, right?

I'm taking a Humanities class about Children's Literature this semester, and have made an amazing connection between folktales and modern literature.

I've always been fascinated with folktales, or traditional literature. Folktales encompass a wide variety of works: fairytales (Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel), myths (Robin Hood, King Arthur), legends (Why the Elephant Has a Trunk, Eros and Psyche), tall tales (Paul Bunyon, Johnny Appleseed), fables (mainly Aesop: The Tortoise and the Hare), etc.

A definition of traditional literature:

"Stories passed down through oral storytelling and from generation to generation fall under the broad term traditional literature. Over time and through many tellers, these stories altered, drawing upon each new generation's truth to become the stories we are familiar with today. Rich in tradition and richer in language, traditional literature connects the future to the past. ("

The stories we know and love today were not written that way originally. Most fairytales were written for adults, containing content not suitable for young readers. Our "Disney-fied" versions of The Little Mermaid or Cinderella, though fun and sweet stories, were quite different with not so happy endings. What Disney did is they took the stories and altered them to fit our generation's truths.

And that's when it hit me ... WHAM-O! All these retellings of fairytales and myths and legends and whatever, they are just the folktale process occuring in modern times. I always thought it kinda sad that the stories change, but that's what makes them folktales: they change and alter to fit our culture. Whether it was written a thousand years ago or last week, if it's being passed down through the generations and has the same basic plot and characters, it's a folktale.

For instance, I just watched this over the weekend, in anticipation of this coming out in April. How different they are. I loved watching Harry Hamlin growing up. I'm pretty sure I watched the 80's version a couple times each year as a kid. Watching the trailer for the upcoming show is an eye-opener. This myth has been changed to fit our cultures ever growing need for action, and tons of it. I'll probably need to be strapped to my seat to view it safely.

I've been itching to rewrite a folktale, and knowing what I know now, I'm even more excited to jump into the folktale writing extravaganza and throw in my two cents on how I percieve a folktale should be written.

Now to narrow down which story to choose ... this could take awhile.

(I hate being a rabble rouser, but when are we getting our newsletter? I'm going into newsletter withdrawal)


  1. I took a folklore class in college many moons ago and met someone who was actually majoring in folklore. It was fascinating.

  2. great post, Marielle. That class sounds like a lot of fun. I can't wait to read your folktales! ...yeah, i miss the newsletter, too!


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