"And then the devil will take me away:" Adaptation, narrative evolution, and The Brothers Grimm's suppression of taboo motifs in The Girl Without Hands

Ashley, Melissa (2009). "And then the devil will take me away:" Adaptation, narrative evolution, and The Brothers Grimm's suppression of taboo motifs in The Girl Without Hands. In: , Double Dialogues 2009: Hidden Stories. Abstracts. DD09. Hidden Stories: A Double Dialogues Conference, Southbank, VIC, Australia, (). 11-12 December 2009.

Author Ashley, Melissa
Title of paper "And then the devil will take me away:" Adaptation, narrative evolution, and The Brothers Grimm's suppression of taboo motifs in The Girl Without Hands
Formatted title “And then the devil will take me away:” Adaptation, narrative evolution, and The Brothers Grimm’s suppression of taboo motifs in The Girl Without Hands
Conference name DD09. Hidden Stories: A Double Dialogues Conference
Conference location Southbank, VIC, Australia
Conference dates 11-12 December 2009
Proceedings title Double Dialogues 2009: Hidden Stories. Abstracts
Place of Publication Burwood, VIC, Australia
Publisher Double Dialogues
Publication Year 2009
Sub-type Published abstract
Total pages 1 Conference presentation
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary With a literary history that dates back to 793AD and more than a thousand recorded variants, ‘The Girl without Hands’ is one of the most widely circulated folk and fairy tales. Recent comparative analysis of typical and idiosyncratic textual events has revealed a forgotten narrative thread whereby a father sought his daughter’s ‘hand’ in marriage. Called the ‘unnatural father’ motif—Cinderella also has such a strain—by the early nineteenth century this once popular theme had altered in cultural meaning and become taboo. The paper discusses Wilhelm Grimm’s excision of the ‘unnatural father’ episode in his 1819 revision of ‘The Girl without Hands’, substituting a Christian devil in the place of the unnatural father, but leaving the father as mutilator of the girl’s hands. Critics have argued that the omissions and ambiguous motivations in the Grimms’ revisions produce an enigmatic disquiet that has paradoxically strengthened and modernised an ancient narrative in danger of being lost and forgotten. Today, the Grimms’ text stands as the exemplary variant, with most contemporary interpretations, adaptations, and treatments traceable to it.

Insight into ‘The Girl without Hands’s’ narrative evolution helped to refine my creative processes in drafting and revising a novelised adaptation of the text. Extending the fairy tale’s operation as an initiatory narrative—a textual dramatisation of the difficult adolescent journey of individuation and separation from familial origins—I introduced a sub-plot that incorporated a link to ‘The Girl without Hands’s’ earlier theme of a (young) woman’s flight from the threat of sexual violation.
Keyword Original Creative Works - Textual work
Q-Index Code EX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

 
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Created: Thu, 02 Feb 2012, 15:14:38 EST by Ms Stormy Wehi on behalf of School of English, Media Studies and Art History