“Once upon a time…”
As children those words used to cast an enchanting spell. You knew the narrative to follow would have some familiar characters ~ a cruel stepmother, a beautiful princess or a handsome prince, an ugly witch, fairies and elves and giants and all kind of magical creatures. There would be a world of wonder with magical mirrors, rings and keys, flying carpets, talking animals and birds, enchanted forests and wishing wells. The plot would be one of optimism and hope. The ordeals and disasters faced by the protagonists would be overcome and the story would end joyfully with those words “…and they lived happily ever after!”
Alas, as you grow into adulthood the glow of the fairy tale begins to diminish. You learn that it is not necessary that every once-upon-a-time ends in a happily-ever-after. Yet those images stay. Every English-speaking person around the world who has grown up with tales from Hans Christian Anderson, The Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault can relate to expressions like ‘fairy godmother’, ‘the big bad wolf’, ‘sleeping beauty’, etc. A week back reminiscences of these and other images came unbidden upon seeing the Google doodle-for-the-day.
To honour Charles Perrault on his 388th birth anniversary the Google artist had come up with a tableaux from his “Mother Goose Tales” ~ Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Puss in Boots (the last one about that cocky trickster cat helping the human master make his fortune being a personal favourite!) Perrault is credited with having converted to the written word what had hitherto been an old oral tradition of story-telling and making it an established part of children’s literature. Over successive generations these tales have been adapted and re-invented countless times. Some versions even turning dark and ambiguous in their interpretations. Even in contemporary times these tales have inspired a wealth of books, films, ballets, musicals etc. The universality of their themes provide an ideal vehicle for artistic expression ~ their inherent optimism a big draw for those who would like to believe in this magical elsewhere of wondrous possibilities, a place where miracles happen and desires are fulfilled. After all even adults could do with a little magic in life sometimes…
(Image sourced from Google)