Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall brings together twenty-eight of our foremost contemporary women writers to discuss, in poetic narratives, evocative personal histories, and philosophical inquiries, how the tales included here affected their thinking about emotion, self, gender and culture. In these pages, you will find narratives on self-image, spiritual biographical journeys, and wary inspections of fairy tales' influence. Some writers found rapt symmetry in these popular stories; others rebelled and discovered the secrets of subterfuge. A few later used fairy tales in writing their own adult work.
Rather than ask "Why this collection now?", one might more appropriately ask "Why not until now?" The exaggerated characters in many fairy tales, from the "Evil Queen," to the "True Bride," in addition to striking a note heard throughout Western culture, provide interesting challenges to and mirrors of women's complex conceptions of themselves. Fairy tales are full of women looking at themselves: In "Snow White," the stepmother is haunted by her own aging image in the mirror, and speaks to it; and in the lesser known, but particularly haunting "Clever Else," a young woman who awakens with a strange lack of identity runs everywhere looking for her own image. So it is for so many women throughout history.
For everyone who has grown up on, been bewitched or infuriated by, or at some time in their lives fallen in love with fairy tales, this book is an enchanting journey of discovery.
Table of Contents
Alice Adams, "The Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood in the Coffin House"
Julia Alvarez, "An Autobiography of Scheherazade"
Margaret Atwood, "Of Souls as Birds"
Anne Beattie, "John, Whose Disappearance Was Too Bad"
Rosellen Brown, "It Is You the Fable Is About"
A. S. Byatt, "Ice, Snow, Glass"
Kathryn Davis, "Why I Don't Like Reading Fairy Tales"
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, "The Princess in the Palace of Snakes"
Deborah Eisenberg, "In a Trance of Self"
Maria Flock, "The Rope Bridge to Sex"
Patricia Foster, "Little Red Cap"
Vivian Gornick, "Taking a Long Hard Look at 'The Princess and the Pea'"
Lucy Grealy, "Girl"
bell hooks, "To Love Justice"
Fanny Howe, "Fairies"
Fern Kupfer, "Trust"
Ursula K. Le Guin, "The Wilderness Within"
Carole Maso, "Exquisite Hour"
Jane Miller, "Midnights"
Lydia Millet, "The Wife Killer"
Joyce Carol Oates, "In Olden Times, When Wishing Was Having: Classic and Contemporary Fairy Tales"
Connie Porter, "Rapunzel Across Time and Space"
Francine Prose, "Sleeping Beauty"
Linda Gray Sexton, "Bones and Black Puddings: Revisiting 'The Juniper Tree'"
Midori Snyder, "The Monkey Girl"
Fay Weldon, " The Journey to Mr. Fox"
Joy Williams, "Baba Yaga"
Terri Windling, "Transformations"