From children's books to Christmas pantomimes, and from scholarly anthologies to movies, the many and various adaptations of fairy tales in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries speak to the genre's widespread popularity. Narratives whose presence and appeal can be traced through every aspect of modern British and North American culture, fairy tales invite a range of interpretations and applications, as multiple versions of 'Cinderella,' 'Sleeping Beauty,' and 'Little Red Riding Hood' enable multiple and potentially subversive uses of their plots and motifs by writers and readers alike.
By exploring representations of fairy tales in the works of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Djuna Barnes, Ann Martin's Red Riding Hood and the Wolf in Bed asserts the significance of the stories as a system of reference for these and other modernists. Allusions to fairy tales in works such as Ulysses, Orlando, and Nightwood signify not only an intersection of popular culture and high modernism, but also an interaction between modern subjects and their social and economic contexts. Drawing on theoretical paradigms from gender and cultural studies, Martin develops a participatory model of modernist literature and culture. The tactical engagements with social normatives that are found in fairy tales and in the modernist texts echo the authors' own challenges to formal and discursive boundaries through intertextuality, just as the readers of the fairy tale allusions become actively engaged in making sense of modernism.
About the author
Ann Martin is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Dalhousie University.