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Author
Comment
vanny
Registered User
(8/9/07 5:08 pm)


Eco-focused tales?
Hi, all! I'm involved in a freshmen orientation program which is specifically focused on ecology (global climates and global warming, in particular) and I would like to integrate fairy tales into the discussion. Aside from the expected conversation about the role of woods/forests in so may tales, any other perspectives/texts that might fit the bill? Any responses will be very appreciated. Thanks so much!

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(8/10/07 1:06 am)


eastern European?
The only tale I've heard of that hints at climate change or change to the environment, is something I came across when searching for something related ot Philip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS. It was set in eastern Europe, maybe a former Communist satellite country. The plot was vaguely like the GArden of Eden: a pleasant valley whose ecosystem was damaged (irreparably?) by greedy people's damage to a beneficial tree...?

You might also take a look at George MacDonald's KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER.

Otherwise, sfaik, although there is much about kindness to and respect for individual animals, which brings practical rewards, most of the environments mentioned (even in Oz) show the forest as menacing and towns as safe and pleasant (and woodcutters as heroes :-). Wild animals in general are menacing.

There may be a different take on this starting around the time of Nesbit and Wilde.

vanny
Registered User
(8/17/07 11:15 pm)


Thanks
Thanks so much for your help; I'll definitely check out these suggestions.

kristiw
Registered User
(8/18/07 7:54 am)


will you take contemporary twists?
They aren't folklore, but if you'll accept literary suggestions there is a quartet of books, called Brian Froud's Faerielands, which as well as being an experiment in writing to fit illustrations rather than the reverse, are all ecologically themed. They were hard to find for a while, but now they're being reprinted and you can get on amazon. They all rework traditional tales, so you might at least get an idea for what fairytales lend themselves to those kind of interpretations.

Writerpatrick
Registered User
(8/18/07 11:58 am)


Re: Eco-focused tales?
For the most part, traditional takes involve a people who were well aquainted with the outdoors and lived a simple, though hard, life. Their understanding was naturally eco-focused. The fairies protected nature and would punish those who harmed it. But the concept was much different than today's enviornmentalism which seems to have been developed by urban dwellers who have lost contact with nature.

runalian
Registered User
(8/27/07 8:02 pm)


Ferngully
Did you ever watch the movie Ferngully: The Last Rainforest. It was produced by Kroyer Films. Its essentially a fairy tale about saving the rainforest that the fairies live in. You can try looking that up.

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(8/28/07 12:50 am)


protect?
WRiterpatrick, can you give some examples of fairies protecting the land from damage? Or of damage to the land occurring in fairy tales at all? I know there's a theme of 'blighted land' in King Arthur, the Fisher-King, Narnia, Donaldson, etc (and in LOTR, although there we know the damage was caused by Sauron).... But in the sort of folk tales (maarchen) we find in Grimm, Afanasev, Curtin, Calvino, etc, I don't recall such themes (nor fairies either). The Cabinet des Fees stories have fairies that rule and protect their lands, but even there I don't offhand recall much of damage to the lands themselves.

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(8/28/07 5:41 pm)


Re: protect?
Nah, fairy tales tend to take the forest and the lands for granted.

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(8/28/07 11:19 pm)


protect
Mary, I agree with you that the fairies in Cabinet des Fees etc take forests and eco-systems for granted. I meant they protect their lands from political takeover, being conquered by foreign armies, etc.

To the OP:
In most of the tales I know, forests are dark and dangerous, wild beasts are fierce and dangerous, etc. The landscapes called 'beautiful' and 'pleasant' are the fertile farmlands with houses and villages, or the splendid cities (particularly of artificial materials, glass, diamonds, gold, etc). However, 'wild men' and others who live away from cities, in near-nature cottages, are usually good and may have treasures hidden in great caves.

The feeling that we'd call 'ecological concern' is focused on individual animals: mercy to an animal usually results in that animal or its community helping you at a crisis. See "The Queen Bee" and other tales. There is also respect for animals shown in the 'animal helper' tale types.

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