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Accepted Paper:

Good is good and bad is bad: ambiguity in fairy-tales  
Lubomir Suva (University of Göttingen, Germany)

Paper short abstract:

Fairy-tale poetics is being defined by the Brothers Grimm as strictly non-ambiguous, as a clear fight between good and bad. Yet, the classical fairy-tales collections from the 19th century still produce the most ambiguous interpretations. Why? How do they do that?

Paper long abstract:

“Everything beautiful is golden and strewn with pearls; there are even golden people living there; misfortune, by contrast, is a dark power [...] and [...] something terrible, black, and wholly alien that you cannot even approach; the punishment of evil is equally terrifying: snakes and poisonous reptiles devour their victims, or the evil person dances to death in red-hot iron shoes.” With these words in the preface to the first volume of their Nursery and household tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen; 1812) the Brothers Grimm are defining and demonstrate the principles of their fairy-tale poetics: The fight between “good” and “bad” and the black-and-white opposition, which shape the characters of their tales, where the “good” and “bad” ones never mingle, but instead of that are being strictly separated from each other. Such poetological frame doesn´t seem to give much space for any ambiguity; yet, the Grimms´ tales and other fairy-tale collections of the 19th century keep attracting attention of the most various interpretations with the most various results for more than 200 years already. The question is, why, and how it is possible, that these at the first sight most possible non-ambiguous structures still happen to endorse so much ambiguity in reading and understanding. With the help of examples from the Grimms´ and other fairy-tales collections we will discuss narrative techniques in fairy-tale writings and possible interpretative approaches to the genre.

Panel Narr03
Open paths - coping with uncertainty through ambiguity in and of narratives [Narrative Cultures Working Group]
  Session 1 Friday 9 June, 2023, -