The Irresistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre

By Jack Zipes | Go to book overview
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7
Fairy-Tale Collisions, or
the Explosion of a Genre

According to [Theodor] Adorno, “culture” represents the interests and
demands of the particular as against the homogenizing pressures of the
“general”—and takes on an uncompromisingly critical stance towards the
existing state of affairs, and its institutions… The conflict is especially
glaring, the clashes particularly bitter and relations singularly fraught with
catastrophic consequences in the case of the fine arts—the foremost area
of culture and the powerhouse of its dynamics. The fine arts are the most
hyped up area of culture; for that reason they cannot resist making ever
new forays into fresh territory and waging guerilla warfare in order to
forge, pave and plot ever new pathways to be followed by the rest of
human culture (“art is not a better, but an alternative existence,” noted
Joseph Brodsky, “it is not an attempt to escape from reality, but the oppo-
site; an attempt to animate it”). Creators of art are by their very nature
adversaries or competitors in activities which managers would, after all,
prefer to make into their own prerogatives.

—Zygmunt Bauman, Culture in a Liquid Modern World (2011)

Though it may seem somewhat strange to skip from the nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century to discuss the irresistibility and inexplicability of the fairy tale as a genre, I believe this chapter is appropriate because it will demonstrate just how expansive the fairy tale has become and also how unheard voices speak through the visual arts. Moreover, it also connects some of the subversive and moral aspects of the whalelike fairy tale in unimaginable ways that have paradoxically been imagined. It is difficult for us to resist the imaginable of fairy tales that take us seriously and realize the unimaginable.

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