For citation:

Nurgali, K.R., Gilea, A.A. “Intertextuality and Archetype Transformation as the Polysemy Basis of the Modern Reimagined Fairy Tale.” Studia Litterarum, vol. 8, no. 1, 2023, pp. 198–217. (In English)

Author: Kadisha R. Nurgali
Information about the author:

Kadisha R. Nurgali, PhD in Philology, Professor, L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Satpayev St., 2, 010008 Astana, Republic of Kazakhstan.


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Author 2: Aigerim A. Gilea
Information about the author 2:

Aigerim A. Gilea, Doctoral Student, L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Satpayev St., 2, 010008 Astana, Republic of Kazakhstan.


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Received: October 04, 2021
Published: March 25, 2023
Issue: 2023 Vol. 8, №1
Department: World literature
Pages: 198–217


UDK: 82.0
BBK: 83
Keywords: literary tale, archetypes’ transformation, opened text, intertextuality, postmodernism, feminism, deconstruction, binary oppositions, waiting horizon, gamified beginning, reminiscences.


In the modern English-language literary space the genre of short prose, based on the plots of classical fairy tales and addressed primarily to an adult audience, is extremely popular. Over half a century already, this genre has emerged as a separate discourse (in this article, the authors call it a “Reimagined Fairy Tale,” considering the memory of the genre). Such modificated fairy tale is simultaniously the result of the postmodern world perception (intertextuality, playfulness, gamification, multilevel text, irony, etc.) and a critical thought (deconstruction, denial of logocentrism), and represents an extensive material for research both from the point of view of literary criticism and from interdisciplinary positions. Using the example of the modern literary tale by R. Shirman “Hunger,” which is based on the folk story about Hansel and Gretel, the authors attempt to trace how the multilevel coding of the text takes place using the transformation of Jungian archetypes and deconstruction of binary oppositions that underlie them on the one hand, and literary and religious reminiscences, and allusions on the other. The authors trace how the text passes into the category of open ones and allows the reader to choose himself which of the meanings of the tale is closer to him. According to the authors, this methodology is applicable to all texts of a given genre and can be productive as a way of reading, and also useful for clarifying the genre features of a modern fairy tale-modification.

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Studia Litterarum /2023 том 8, № 1 200 Since the late seventies of the last century the literary fairy tale in general, and the reimagined fairy tale (further RFT) in particular, has undergone a genre renaissance in the discourse of English-language literature. Benson [9] names this period “fairy tale generation”. The genre fits perfectly into the postmodern picture of the world, with its gravitation towards magical realism, deconstruction and intertextuality, according to U. Eco [12]. The impossibility of applying old concepts to a rapidly changing world returned the authors to archetypal motives and images in order to overestimate the well-established social, philosophical and political concepts through their prism. Hudson [15] wrote: “Tales such as these reveal an imminent shift in discourse; suggesting an architectural allegory as a relevant mode of investigation” [15, p. 2]. A fairy tale is a kind of common place for different cultures, the reader is well acquainted with folklore plots, he knows that a fairy tale is a product of the collective unconscious and is able to decipher the archetypal components of the text, the aesthetic distance between the reader and the author is minimal, and at the same time, the horizon [16] is expanding due to the transformation of folklore archetypes, which, in our opinion, justifies the popularity of the genre. Of particular interest are the texts of fairy tales created by a linguistic personality with a unique dualistic worldview (that is, a storyteller), due to their significant influence on the formation of the reader’s picture of the world [2]. According to P. Greenhill, a modern fairy tale offers “magical ways of dealing with the crisis of everyday life” [13, p. 8]. However, even despite the incredible boom of English-language literary fairy tales at the end of the last century and in the tenth years of this century, the genre does not lose its relevance. The proof of this is numerous collective works, Мировая литература / К.Р. Нургали, А.А. Гыля 201 under the cover of which writers traditionally working in different, often non-fantastic genres gather to create their own artistic texts based on classic fairy-tale plots. Such collections are published with an enviable frequency — a fairy-tale plot by its nature is intended for interpretation and retelling, playing with fairytale archetypes leads to the actualization of completely new meanings. Paula Guran, in the preface to the collection “Beyond the Woods: Fairy Tales Retold” lists the following anthologies: “Snow White, Red Blood,” “Black Thorn, White Rose,” “Ruby Shoes, golden tears,” “Black Swan, white Raven,” “Silver Birch, blood Moon” and “Black Heart, white Bones,” “Once upon a time: new fairy tales,” “Mother tormented me, Dad devoured me: forty new fairy Tales,” “Through the Eyes of a Troll: a Book of Villainous Tales,” etc. [14]. The modern literary RFT continues the tradition of A. Carter, M. Atwood, and other pioneers of the genre, but becomes even more semantically complex. Susan Redington Bobby’s essays’ collection gives a lot of examples of RFT and states that “we are experiencing an explosion of fairy tale influences in art and literature” [20, p. 104]. For example, Bethany Joy Bear coins the “re-engendering” concept for analyzing rewriting of Andersen’s “The Wild Swans” by Peg Kerr. Through the concept of “re-engendering” Kerr reworks fairy-tale redemption and heroism so that they may accommodate 21st-century concerns like AIDS, homosexuality and the role of communities. And also, we can see essays of political and cultural revision, mythologizing of wartime masculinity and the glorification of war. For example, through the deeds of the Wicked Witch of the West Christopher Roman demonstrates evil as a government prerogative whose power comes under threat and this way the author focusses on the thin borderline between political dissent and terrorism [20]. According to such online resources, media data, and publishing houses, the most read English-language RFT and their appearance chronologically are: • Robin McKinley — “Beauty” in 1978 (based on “Beauty and the Beast”); • Marion Zimmer Bradley — “The Mists of Avalon” in 1983 (retelling of King Arthur and his knights’ stories); • Jon Scieszka — “The Frog Prince, Continued” in 1994; • Gregory Maguire — “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” in 1995 (uses Wicked Witch image); • Louise Murphy — “The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival” in 2003 (“Hansel and Gretel”); Studia Litterarum /2023 том 8, № 1 202 • Jackson Pearce — “Sisters Red” in 2011 (based on the story of Little Red Riding Hood); • David Levinthal — “Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?” in 2012 (uses “Three Bears,” “Hansel and Gretel” images); • Corey Rosen Schwartz — “The Three Ninja Pigs” in 2012 and “Ninja Red Riding Hood” in 2014; • Helen Oyeyemi — “Boy, Snow, Bird by” in 2014 (based on “Snow White”); • Rhiannon Thomas — “A Wicked Thing” in 2015 (based on “Sleeping Beauty”); • Genevieve — “The Girls at the Kingfisher Club” in 2015 (retelling about Snow White, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk); • Renee Ahdieh — “The Wrath & the Dawn” in 2015 (based on “A Thousand and One Nights”); • C.J. Redwine — “The Shadow Queen” in 2016 (based on “Snow White”); • Nicole Castroman — “Blackhearts” in 2016 (based on “Blackbeard”); • Lisa Maxwell — “Unhooked” in 2016 (based on “Peter Pan”); • Dave Horowitz — “Never Satisfied: The Story of the Stonecutter” in 2018 (based on “The Frog Prince”); • Wray Delaney — “The Beauty of the Wolf” in 2019 (based on “The Beauty and the Beast); • Rebecca Solnit — “Cinderella Liberator” in 2020; • Kamila Shamsie — “Duckling” in 2020 (based on “The Ugly Duckling”); • Malorie Blackman — “Blueblood” in 2020 (based on “Bluebeard” fairy tale). As it can be seen, most of popular RTF were written during 1978–2016 years. Also, at this time, provocative postmodern fairy tales of a feminist orientation are released (at the same time, the heyday of second-wave feminism also occurs): • Donald Barthelme — “Snow White” in 1967 (inverts the fairy tale of the same name, highlights the form by discussing the different compromises and expectations the seven “dwarves” or Snow White herself make to survive in their world); Мировая литература / К.Р. Нургали, А.А. Гыля 203 • Angela Carter — “The Bloody Chamber” in 1979 (based on fairy tales, inspired by Charles Perrault. The author draws the link between male aggression and sexually violent imagery [21]); • Margaret Atwood — “The Handmaid’s Tale” in 1985 and others (“revisioning fairy tale intertexts in a postmodern manner, exploring power and sexual politics in patriarchal society, implying movement from symbolic dismemberment and cannibalism to metamorphosis trough transformative and creative act of telling a story” [12, p. 1]); • Tanith Lee — “Tales from the Flat Earth” in 1978–1987 (based on One Thousand and One Nights, similarly structured as interconnected stories); • Judith Viorst — “Murdering Mr. Monti: A Merry Little Tale of Sex and Violence” in 1994 (Judith Viorst’s Cinderella doesn’t find the Prince charming enough for her, so she smartly avoids marrying him by pretending the slipper is too tight); • Marina Warner — “From the beast to the blonde: on fairy tales and their tellers” in 1995 (“The more one knows fairy tales the less fantastical they appear; they can be vehicles of the grimmest realism, expressing hope against all the odds with gritted teeth” [15, p. 52]); • Joyce Carol Oates — “In Olden Times, When Wishing Was Having... Classic and Contemporary Fairy Tales” in 1997; • Emma Donoghue — “Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins” in 1999 (based on “Cinderella”); • Mary Pope Osborne and Giselle Potter — “Kate and the Beanstalk” in 2000 (Kate overcame more obstacles than Jack did); • Sandra M. Gilbert; Susan Gubar — “The madwoman in the attic: the woman writer and the nineteenth-century literary imagination” in 2000; • Anne Sexton — “Transformations” in 2001 (retelling of seventeen Grimms fairy tales, including “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Red Riding Hood,” “Snow White,” “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” “Rapunzel,” and “The Frog Prince”); • Niki Daly — “Pretty Salma: A Little Red Riding Hood Story from Africa” in 2007; • Jerdine Nolen and Kadir Nelson — “Thunder Rose” in 2007 (A heroine is powerful, free and easy, even chooses her own name); • Rita Jahanforuz and Vali Mintzi — “The Girl with a Brave Heart: A Tale from Tehran” in 2010; Studia Litterarum /2023 том 8, № 1 204 • Jane Yolen — “Not All Princesses Dress in Pink” in 2010 (There a princess can be a baseball player who “plays in bright red socks that stink.” And someone who wears jewels while fixing things with power tools. Though she always wears her sparkly crown). Most archivists, for example Charles Perrault, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, were male, but most material they collected was provided by women [18]. Most of the heroines of the fairy tales were submissive, passive and helpless, their beauty was their most valuable asset. Fairy tales of a feminist orientation changed that. Though hundreds of fairy tales written by women have been largely forgotten, some became famous in the 18 century. Caitlin Lawrence [17] explored the impact of some French female fairy tales, such as those by contes by d’Aulnoy — “La Chatte blanche” or “The White Cat,” incredibly popular in 16 and 19-century England among female readers and writers. In the 18th century, Sarah Fielding put two fairy tales in her novel The Governess to create the moral fairy tale. Sara Coleridge wrote the innovative fairy-tale novel Phantasmion in 1837, anticipating the modern genre of fantasy. Anne Thackeray Ritchie, during the Victorian era, removed from her fairy tales the elements of fantasy, further blurring the lines between the reality and fantasy and highlighted Victorian England social realties. Bronwyn Reddan explored French fairy tales of 18th century through the history of love as an emotion that shapes and is shaped by hierarchies of power including class, gender, social status and education. The author showed how the conteuses, the women writers who dominated the first French fairy-tale vogue in the 1690s, used the fairy-tale genre to critique the power dynamics of courtship and marriage [19]. The phenomenon of RFT is widely studied in the Western scientific community. The most striking works belong to Cristina Bacchilega, M. Tatar, J. Zipes, V. Joosen, A. Kérchy, P. Greenhill, K. Magnus-Johnston etc. The purpose of this article is to explore how archetypes, binary oppositions, and intertextuality create a certain type of text poetics, which can be useful for studying the poetics of RFT as a separate genre. Methodology The concept of an archetype in its modern sense was formulated by the iconic Swiss psychoanalyst and philosopher C.G. Jung, in his 1919 essay “IntuМировая литература / К.Р. Нургали, А.А. Гыля 205 ition and the Unconscious”. The scientist defines archetypes as “the most ancient and most universal forms of human representation” [7, p. 26]. However, it should be noted that only the final interpretation of the concept belongs to Jung — since ancient times, thinkers have argued on the topic of a certain “inner essence of all things” — Plato has the term “eidos” according to Jung himself, “‛Archetype’ is an explanatory description of Plato’s concept of an idea” [16 p. 17], Plato has “Sophia,” Aristotle has “hyperonyms,” Leibniz and Descartes have “universalia.” Later, St. Augustine discusses the same topic, speaking about the divine idea, the prototype at the base of all subjects of existence. The scholastics called the a priori images of human thought archetypes. Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason uses the concept of “the thing in itself;” Durkheim speaks about the collective representations of members of a particular community, etc. Jung’s developments were also significantly influenced by the teachings of E. Husserl on the phenomena of human consciousness. Husserl states that the individual is not able to perceive the objective world, the recipient’s consciousness is determined by certain phenomena of consciousness, and therefore it is worth studying objects of the real world only based on the experience of the perceiving consciousness. Husserl calls for turning to the original experience — “Back to things!” Starting from the theory of archetypes, literary critics, however, conclude that the study of them in a literary text should no longer be associated with Jungianism as such. E-M. Bodkin, who was one of the first to apply the methods of archetypal criticism to literature [18], speaks of their development into repetitive literary forms. In other words, a literary archetype is a fundamental schema that contains some cultural “genetic material.” The theory of archetypes today is a heterogeneous discourse — its interpretations are offered by cultural scientists, literary critics, screenwriters and writers — from M. Von Franz, J. Borges Campbell, A. Thompson and V. Ya. Propp to H. L. Borges and P. Booker. To study the semantics of the text, we use the classical understanding of the archetype, in the form in which Jung spoke about it, and also use the methods of identifying and analyzing the archetype in the text, used by his follower M.L. Von Franz in a number of works devoted to the functioning of archetypes in a folk tale. The author compares the fairy tale with its folklore prototype and other works of art, which are based on the story of Hansel and Gretel. Also, a post-structuralist approach is used to identify deconstructions of binary oppositions, which helps to identify the feminist orientation of the text. Studia Litterarum /2023 том 8, № 1 206 It should be noted that the feminist literary criticism of the first wave was in conflict with Jung’s theory, considering it patriarchal. However, with the new perspectives discovered by post-Jungians, the situation has changed dramatically — Jung’s own ideas have become one of the best tools with which to deconstruct the qualities within Jung that feminists have often taken offense at, including essentialism, misogyny, and racism. What an archetype meant to Jung at an exact moment in time does not necessarily represent what it will look like to another person and a different moment in time. This opens the door for Jungian interpretation in many ways, as Jung’s own aforementioned limitations can be ascribed to the limits of personal experience and interpretation; at the same time, the ability to focus on individual interpretation of archetypes and actualizations helps to further open Jung’s works to the world of postmodern analysis and deconstruction [18]. Thus, the analysis of feminist fiction from the perspective of Jungian archetypes is a relatively new method of research. The choice of material is justified by the fact that, in our opinion, R. Shirman’s fairy tale is a typical example of a postmodern (here there is intertextuality, a game beginning, deconstruction, multi-level encoding of the text) feminist fairy tale. Arguing about the difficulty of defining a text as feminist, J. Zipes says that a writer does not necessarily have to be a feminist, a feminist text is a text with a critical view of established cultural stereotypes, and with an open discourse that involves the active inclusion of the reader category [28]. Results and Discussion Deconstruction of binary oppositions is a characteristic feature of postmodern literature. As Lipovetskiy states: “Postmodernism is not grotesque, not a gamified beginning, not ‛quotation,’ not total irony, not fragmentariness, as we once wrote. The main thing is in problematization and undermining (these are different operations, not necessarily related to each other) of the ancient and difficult to overcome cultural habit of thinking with binary oppositions, when one member is privileged over the other: the opposition of good and evil, sacred and profane, word and body” [3, p. 41]. Archetypes are binary in their nature — they organize opposite pairs, for example, “cosmos-chaos,” “house-forest,” “person-shadow,” “mother-stepmother,” “anima-animus,” etc. The fairy tale is genetically related to the myth, retains the main function of the myth-world modeling; mythological oppositions have Мировая литература / К.Р. Нургали, А.А. Гыля 207 passed into the folklore picture of the world. The basic opposition associated with the myth of the creation of the world is the opposition of unorganized chaos and the ordered cosmos: “chaos was the starting point, separating the main features-oppositions” [5, p. 67]. The modern literary fairy tale transforms these binary oppositions, with the help of deconstruction. Deconstruction, which is based on revisionism is a shift in literary focus, an attempt to rethink traditional forms, plots and tropes. According to M. Lipovetskiy, deconstructivism is primarily an analysis of binary oppositions, in the process of which relations in pairs of opposites are shifted or rearranged [3]. Of course, for postmodernism, a critical position in relation to everything authoritative is very important, binary oppositions are considered by modern authors as the basis of traditional discursive thinking, in other words, logocentrism. The feminist orientation of the text, which flourishes within the framework of the poetics of postmodernism, is in turn not so much a struggle with the phallocentric [11], сultural hegemony, which sees the feminine as something secondary and even marginal, is an attempt at a critical approach to any hierarchical relations. While classical feminism has its origins in the suffragette movement (liberal feminism), whose main goal was to fight for the right to enfranchise women, modern feminist philosophy in general, and feminist literary criticism in particular, focuses mainly on the “logic of domination” (hence the large number of different types of feminism, each of which focuses more on certain specific types of domination — postcolonial feminism, third World feminism, ecofeminism, postfeminism, etc.) and all sorts of stereotypical dichotomous pairs that accompany it in the language sphere (good-evil, strength-weakness, beauty-ugliness, order-chaos, rational-unconscious, etc.). Feminist literary theory is more inclined to consider archetypes as “mobile cultural constructs” and recognizes the right of “women’s prose” to contribute to the development of new archetypes [1]. In other words, both the philosophy of postmodernism and the aesthetics of feminism are a kind of optics through which one can see existing facts in a new light, devoid of the politics of simplification: simplifications are always based on binary oppositions, on rigid and always unequal oppositions, and therefore they are always sources of violence — first of all, in relation to the “other.” The reimagined fairy tale by Robert Shearman, the British writer and playwright, “Peckish” was published in 2014 in a collection of texts based on unedited, pre-Grimm folk tales due to which the general setting of the collection is realized Studia Litterarum /2023 том 8, № 1 208 on the poetics of fairy tales-horror. The story is written in the recursive technique of “mise en abyme” and tells the story of a teenage girl from a respectable German family named Sieglinde. After learning that, having lived with her husband for sixty years in marriage, her grandmother was about to leave him, a worried Sieglinde goes to visit her, where she hears the story of Hansel (Hans) and Gretel (Greta) — the story of her grandmother and her brother, who were captured by a cannibal witch, but later became cannibals themselves. Greta tells Sieglinde: “My stepmother would not tolerate us in the house. She tried to smile at us, but Hans and I could see right through her. We played in the forest. They went deeper and deeper, day by day, and became so bold that they could go into the very thicket” [25, p. 102]. The granddaughter asks, “Was it an evil and cruel stepmother?” — “I don’t think she was so angry or treated me more cruelly than my own mother. It can be difficult for stepmothers. It’s hard to love even your own flesh and blood, I know that. And it’s almost impossible to love someone else” [25, p. 92]. The figures of the stepmother and mother are equalized and both carry a negative connotation, thus the opposition “mother-stepmother” is leveled here [26]. In this fairy tale, there is no evil as such — there is a reason for every bad action — the struggle for survival. The witch is the archetype of the devil, a mythical character who guards the entrance to the world of the dead, in the variation of Shearman also an ambivalent character, it is more hopelessness than malice that makes her go to kidnap children (“As soon as we entered her house, she locked the door behind us with a large key. ‛I’m sorry, orcas,’ she said, and to be honest, she looked really sorry, and we couldn’t get mad at her” [26, p. 12]). And when Greta, at her brother’s instruction, puts her in the oven, the old woman accepts it with resignation (“The woman did not blame us. She said: ‛That’s all right, one way or another, it’s the end of my suffering’.” [26, p. 16]). The evil here is in the world order itself, it becomes impersonal and ordinary. After getting rid of the witch, the children cannot, however, get out of the forest, all the time walking in a circle and coming to the same hut. Starving to death, they decide to eat the witch’s body, thus ending their innocence. The absorption of the human body here becomes an initiation — now they become the ones who deceive and eat children (“And in the morning Hans said, ‛Why leave? The house can be ours now. And we can feed ourselves with what we find in the Мировая литература / К.Р. Нургали, А.А. Гыля 209 forest. There are a million evil stepmothers in the world, from whom children run away, and a million good woodcutters who do not care about all this’.” [24, p. 204]). Thus, they turn from victims into executioners. After living in a forest hut for several years, Greta discovers a girl who promises to bring them out of the woods. The girl here is the archetype of the Spirit that appears at the moment when, it would seem, Greta’s fate is predetermined — she will forever remain a prisoner of the forest (“She slept very close to our house, just a few steps away — as if someone brought her to us as a gift” [24, p. 205]). Greta leaves with the girl, and Hans stays in the forest (“I told Hans: ‛This is our deliverance.’ And Hans said, ‛There is no escape for us. We are what we are, and we will never be different again. There, beyond the forest, there is no home for us’.” [24, p. 205]). Thus, there is a deconstruction of the classical dichotomy — for Hans, the initially alien and dangerous space of “chaos” — the forest becomes a “cosmos” — home, thus violating the conditions of representation familiar to the folklore fairy tale. The forest also represents the unconscious here, while the house represents the consciousness, the Jungian “Persona.” The girl, however, can’t get Greta out of the forest, it turns out to be too big. When they are both weak from hunger, the girl begs her to eat herself. Here we read Old Testament and Christian allusions — the wandering of the Jews in the desert, the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrament. Before killing the girl, Greta asks her name, which she has never done with abducted children before — this way the girl goes from the category of “alien,” goes into the category of “own,” becomes humanized, thus returning Greta to the world of people again. In the classic story, after getting out of the forest, the children get precious stones. In the story of R. Shearman — as a reward, Greta gets her husband and children, the traditional way of life. However, the longing for the forest and the past (the Jungian archetype of the Shadow) haunts Greta, she does not find herself in this world, as Hans predicted (“Oh, the guilt has tormented me for a long time. But not because of the children I killed. I was ashamed that I had married a man I didn’t love and never had, not for a single day in all these six decades. <…> I have spent many years trying to be different from what I am” [24, p. 210]; “I want to taste innocent flesh again. I was wrong. I’ve been wrong all these years. I shouldn’t have left my brother. I’ll go to him. I’ll go, and then we’ll see if he’ll see Studia Litterarum /2023 том 8, № 1 210 me” [24, p. 210]; “I will fall into his arms and ask for forgiveness, I will beg for his mercy” [24, p. 210]). Greta sends Sieglinde to the attic to bring her a suitcase (can be interpreted here as a symbol of femininity). Sieglinde is afraid of the attic darkness (“There was something inside, in the darkness — something that feeds on the darkness, is not afraid of it at all, which cannot survive without this pitch darkness. Sieglinde knew that nothing would ever be as good as before — she would never be able to see, speak, feel again — because if she opened her mouth to speak, the darkness would rush down her throat, if she dared to feel, the darkness would immediately feel her” [24, p. 212]), but when she heard her grandmother’s voice, the fear receded and Sieglinde came out of the closet with her suitcase. Grandma explains to Sieglinde that the suitcase is actually meant for her (“Oh, so you thought I was the one who needed the suitcase? At my age? And why would I have a suitcase where I was going? But you. My darling, my little blood. You will leave. You will leave this place, and thank God, because you will not be able to stay here, with these people, with these impassive people” [24, p. 212]). The grandmother leaves, but not into the forest, but into the darkness of the attic (“‛There’s no forest there anymore, Granny,’ Sieglinde said. — It was cut down long ago. ‛I know where my forest is,’ Greta replied. Greta went into the attic. The darkness swallowed her up” [24, p. 213]). Whether she finds the magic forest there, or her death, is unknown. Thus, we can see how the image of Greta is transformed with the development of events: first it is she who represents the archetype of the Innocent Child, then the Witch (the negative aspect of the archetype of the Great Mother), and then the Great Mother. Thus, all the life stages of a woman are shown. Sieglinde, with Greta’s help, goes through her initiation, entering the attic, overcoming an irrational fear of the monstrous darkness. Sieglinde, like her grandmother, leaves the traditional patriarchal family and the groom chosen by her parents. (“Sieglinde called Klaus. <…> Said that they would never see each other again. Then she took the suitcase to her room and opened it. Inside, it seemed so huge, you could fit the whole world, your whole future in it. She opened all her cupboards and dressers, looked at what she would like to take with her. Nothing. All this was of no use to her. So, she closed the suitcase again, carried it down the stairs, and walked out of the house with it — into a new life. She will fill it up on the way” [24, p. 214]). Мировая литература / К.Р. Нургали, А.А. Гыля 211 The name Sieglinde is also symbolic, a reference to Wagner’s opera Valkyrie, where Sieglinde is one of the twins separated in childhood. Both Sieglinde and her grandmother set out to find the Animus, a masculine personality displaced by a patriarchal society. Initially, the brother and sister represent the unity of the animus and anima, which is why they manage to outwit the witch and survive in the forest. Greta’s animus is negative — it was Hans who decided to put the witch in the oven, he decided to stay to hunt the children, and then stay in the forest. However, Greta feels the need to face the shadow side of her personality in order to gain Selfhood in this way. Both the story of Sieglinde and the story of Greta are stories about growing up, a characteristic plot for many fairy — tale texts, but extremely complicated. The reader here is not entirely sure whether everything was as Greta tells it, or whether it was rather a sublimation of her real experience into a fantasy one. The fantastic here belongs to the type that, for example, Todorov calls strange — in the works of this genre, events are narrated that can be fully explained on the basis of the laws of reason, but nevertheless they are incredible, extraordinary, stunning, strange, disturbing events, and therefore they cause the hero and the reader a reaction similar to that we observe in fantastic works [26]. The multi-level organization is also indicated by the recursive technique in which the story is written, and the internal space of the text according to the type of matryoshka-grandmother’s house, attic and suitcase. The text can be read in several ways — the first way is to read the text as a mystical fairy tale-horror, the second — as a story about the growing up of a woman and the search for self-transcendence, and finally, as a story about severe posttraumatic stress disorder. Archetypal plots, images and symbols here help to create subtexts full of psychologism. Meletinsky writes about this: “The fight against the dragon can be interpreted as a fight against its own demonic ‛shadow’, the fairy-tale witch — as a transformed Great Mother, with whom the grandmother of Little Red Riding Hood coincides, and even the wolf who swallowed the latter. A wedding with a prince or princess is understood as a reconciliation with one’s own inner world, as a manifestation of individuation, and a meeting with an old man is the highest expression of individuation” [4, p. 8]. The text indirectly makes it clear that Greta survived the Second World War, here it is not accidental to choose the prototype of the text — the story of Hansel and Gretel, which can be considered as a metaphor for the horrors of the Studia Litterarum /2023 том 8, № 1 212 Third Reich. The plot of the fairy tale is often used in works of fiction about the Holocaust for children, in order to, according to Philipp Codde, “dress up painful content” [10]. The most striking of them include “The True Story of Hansel and Gretel,” “Gretel and the Dark,” “Mapping the Bones.” In “The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales” Maria Tatar writes that the scene with the witch being placed in the oven can be read in the classic plot as a harbinger of the horrors of the Third Reich. She also points out that in the illustrations, the witch is often depicted with stereotypical Jewish features, especially in the illustrations of the twentieth century. Ann Sexton, rewriting Hansel and Gretel, described the abandonment of children as “the final solution to the Jewish question” [25]. From this point of view, the fairy tale becomes even more gloomy — having become a monster under the influence of circumstances, Greta never ceases to be one. Shirman invites the reader to think about extremely complex things — the search for female identity, the nature of evil, the inability to escape from the past, the devil inside an ordinary person, while not giving any answers to the questions raised. Conclusions Summing up the above, it can be concluded that: Shirman’s semantic strategy is multi-modelling, resorting to multilevel encryption of the text, suggesting the reader to fill the text with meaning himself, thus this text is open (by definition of U. Eco). With the help of the archetypal story about Hansel and Gretel, the first, outer layer of the horror tale is organized, on the second layer, with the help of Jungian archetypes, the author encodes a story about the search for female identity in the patriarchal world, and finally, with the help of allusions and reminiscences, the tale enters into a dialogue with the metanarrative about concentration camps’ horrors. Due to the deployment of archetypes, the psychologism of the text is realized: if Hansel and Greta are victims of a witch in a traditional plot, in a postmodern one — children themselves are in the skin of a witch, forcing the reader to look at familiar things underneath and feel “sympathy for the devil.” Despite the fact that archetypes are present in all literary texts without exception, it is in the modern literary fairy tale-modification that the archetype becomes the main constructive constant and semantic means, often deliberately brought to the fore by the author. Мировая литература / К.Р. Нургали, А.А. Гыля 213 In our opinion, the proposed method of reading the texts of this genre opens up new perspectives for the study of fairy tales’ transformations under the influence of modern culture, and also clarifies the characteristics of the internal poetics of a reimagined fairy tale as a stand-alone literary discourse.


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