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Title: The intertextual use of the fairy tale in postmodern fiction
Author: Smith, Kevin Paul
ISNI:       0000 0000 5522 6825
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2004
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This study investigates the intertextual use of the fairy tale in postmodern fiction. I contend that the fairy tale, whether Grimm, Andersen or Perrault, is an important intertext in many texts considered canonical postmodernist fiction, especially Midnight's Children, Waterland and Nights at the Circus. I demonstrate that the fairy tale is used in novels to raise concerns that Hutcheon and McHale characterise as postmodern: questions about reality and representation, how language affects the way humans perceive the world, and the necessity of storytelling. The study first addresses issues of intertextuality, examining re-tellings of "Bluebeard" specifically. Drawing upon the theories of Genette and Bakhtin, chapter one defines eight elements of intertextuality. John Fowles' The Collector & A.S. Byatt's Babel Tower are closely examined here, as is Margaret Atwood's "Bluebeard's Egg" and Kurt Vonnegut's Bluebeard. Chapter two highlights that fairy tale intertexts can create magic realism. A close reading of Kate Atkinson's Human Croquet leads to a discussion of the formal features of magic realism, informed by definitions of that genre from Chanady and Faris. Magic realism is also a theme in chapter three, where the concept of the storyteller is explained. This chapter examines fictions which depict oral narration, including Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Atkinson's Emotionally Weird and notes the storyteller in these texts' similarity to the archetypal storyteller of the Arabian Nights, Scheherazade. Chapter four explains why the process of storytelling is depicted, and highlights the metafictive effects raised by this feature. The final chapter examines how fairy tale revisions can be subversive by looking at how Terry Pratchett's Witches Abroad critiques the "classic fairy tale" exemplified by Disney. The conclusion looks at how fairy tale film can be analysed in the same way that I have examined the novel, by briefly studying Shrek and its sequel, and Tim Burton's Big Fish. Informed throughout by contemporary criticism of the fairy tale by Jack Zipes and Marina Warner, this study isolates the different ways fairy tale intertexts are used, and suggests reasons why they are important.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available