From the Forest: A Search for the Hidden Roots of our Fairytales

From the Forest: A Search for the Hidden Roots of our Fairytales

5.0 1
by Sara Maitland
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Fairy tales are one of our earliest cultural forms, and forests one of our most ancient landscapes. Both evoke similar sensations: At times they are beautiful and magical, at others spooky and sometimes horrifying. Maitland argues that the terrain of these fairy tales are intimately connected to the mysterious secrets and silences, gifts and perils.

With each

See more details below

Overview

Fairy tales are one of our earliest cultural forms, and forests one of our most ancient landscapes. Both evoke similar sensations: At times they are beautiful and magical, at others spooky and sometimes horrifying. Maitland argues that the terrain of these fairy tales are intimately connected to the mysterious secrets and silences, gifts and perils.

With each chapter focusing on a different story and a different forest visit, Maitland offers a complex history of forests and how they shape the themes of fairy tales we know best. She offers a unique analysis of famous stories including Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretal, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumplestiltskin, and Sleeping Beauty. Maitland uses fairy tales to explore how nature itself informs our imagination, and she guides the reader on a series of walks through northern Europe’s best forests to explore both the ecological history of forests and the roots of fairy tales. In addition to the twelve modern re-tellings of these traditional fairy tales, she includes beautiful landscape photographs taken by her son as he joined her on these long walks.

Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Maitland has infused new life into tales we’ve always thought we’ve known.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this lovely, inventive book, Maitland (A Book of Silence) pursues the psychic juncture between forests and fairy tales. This may sound maudlin or overly fanciful, but the author’s research is diligent, her analytical skills sharp, and her prose lean and compelling. Each chapter begins with a walk taken by Maitland in a northern European forest (Airyolland Wood, in Scotland, and the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire, England, are among those she visits) and an essay, in which she deftly juggles ecological history, the “‘anthropology of woodland,’” and exegesis of beloved fairy tales. Each alternating chapter is a retelling of a fairy tale (“Rumpelstiltskin,” “Tom Thumb,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and others) and these, thankfully, are neither precious nor obvious. The author’s light touch belies impressive intellect; she is equally at home discussing the forestry laws under the Plantagenet kings and a “sinister” physiological condition that affected oak trees shortly after 1900. The argument she makes for a connection between the woods and the fairy tale is a convincing one and so finely constructed that this odd marriage between fiction and essay proves successful and thought-provoking. Photos. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

Praise for From the Forest

"In this lovely, inventive book, Maitland pursues the psychic juncture between forests and fairy tales…the author's research is diligent, her analytical skills sharp, and her prose lean and compelling…The argument she makes for a connection between the woods and the fairy tale is a convincing one and so finely constructed that this odd marriage between fiction and essay proves successful and thought-provoking."—Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews
An imaginative study examining both the vital role forests play in fairy stories and their vanishing significance from modern life. For Maitland (A Book of Silence, 2009), employing both research and her own personal study of forests throughout the United Kingdom, the untamed wild is both a powerful symbol of hidden dangers and a challenge to personal responsibility. While modern children are raised to stay inside where life is orderly and presumably safer, the stories of "Hansel and Gretel" and "Little Red Riding Hood" present a world with different rules that require new "coping strategies." "To know about woods you have to go into the woods," she writes. "So if we want healthy children in healthy forests we need to get the children out into the forests, and to do that, we need to see the forests as friendly, generous places, but also as tough and determined." Maitland is at her best when she is most personal; she writes with smooth, often poetic, clarity about where stories come from, and she has a sensitivity to the mystery and excitement of the natural world that Thoreau would have appreciated. Her passion for preservation, alas, tends to get the better of her; the book is at its driest when she is rambling on about pollarding and coppicing and cover husbandry. Also, the structure of the book works against her, as every chapter comes with a clumsy, full-length, supposedly cheeky alternative telling of a popular story. None of these add to the book. Flaws aside, the author provides a pensive, often-invigorating blend of cultural anthropology and walking tour.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781619020146
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
10/30/2012
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,289,489
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >