Once & Future

Charlotte Ashley – Book seller, collector, writer, editor, historian

June 16, 2011

Genre Snobbery

“As merely one example, the National Book Foundation, which administers the National Book Awards, states that “retellings of folk-tales, myths, and fairy-tales are not eligible” for their awards. Imagine guidelines that state, “Retellings of slavery, incest, and genocide are not eligible.” Fairy tales contain all those themes, and yet the implication is that something about fairy tales is simply… not literary. Perhaps the snobbery has something to do with their association with children and women. Or it could be that, lacking any single author, they discomfit a culture enchanted with the myth of the heroic artist. Or perhaps their tropes are so familiar that they are easily misunderstood as cliché. Possibly their collapsed world of real and unreal unsettles those who rely on that binary to give life some semblance of order.”

– Kate Bernheimer, in her introduction to My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me

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