Authored by: Martine Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère

The Routledge Companion to Media and Fairy-Tale Cultures

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138946156
eBook ISBN: 9781315670997
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter presents an overview of fairy-tale autobiography in Western literature and culture, from the Romantic period to the present day. It mainly focuses on popular narrative genres (novel, poetry, and essay) and explores the implications of more experimental forms of life-writing in the twentieth century, including a few recent examples taken from film, TV programs, video, and online games that increasingly blur the distinction between life and fiction. When they are deployed in autobiographical writing, fairy-tale tropes, structures, and allusions tend to foreground the workings of memory and subjectivity, personal hopes and expectations, as well as the pressures of family, society, and ideology in the interplay of individual self-fashioning and collective images. In the twentieth century the fairy tale has also served to express traumatic experience and address the presence of the past, as well as problematize traditional gender roles, sexuality, and identity. This is probably why many women have mobilized the form to articulate a sense of self, often in subversive, ironic, or parodic fashion, although the commercialization of the form also contributes to foster naive identification with Disneyfied fairy-tale images of success, beauty, and romance in films and TV programs.

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