The Armless Maiden narratives fascinated me in college, where I first heard a South African version of this tale from the great Xhosa story teller Nongenile Masithathu Zenani. When Terri Windling was putting together her very fine anthology, The Armless Maiden and Other Tales for Childhood's Survivors, I wrote a version of the story, along with an afterword that addressed the unique journey of the female hero in traditional tales. Later, I rewrote the afterword into a longer article, "The Armless Maiden and the Hero's Journey" that was published in Realms of Fantasy's Folkroots Column, and republished in the Journal of Mythic Arts (Winter 2006).
The Monkey Girl is an essay that first appeared in Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Women Writers Discuss Their Favorite Fairy Tales (2002), edited by Kate Bernheimer and later republished in the Journal of Mythic Arts. Kate asked women writers to reflect on their favorite fairy tale and I instantly thought of The Monkey Girl, a wonderful tale from the Sudan. As a young graduate student in African Language and Literature, I found the monkey girl to be one of the most memorable of heroines, and she seemed to have entered my life at exactly the right time. To this day, I still feel I owe her a debt of gratitude.
*Art The Arabian Nights, illustrated by Edmund Dulac
Food -- and especially its preparation -- has always been a central activity in my family. We cook together, then eat huge feasts together at which we talk about cooking. When the Journal of Mythic Arts published an issue on food (Autumn 2005), I wrote In Praise of the Cook, an article that combined my fascination with the role of the cook in fairy tales with a few brief memoirs from my family.
The Swan Maiden's Feathered Robe, originally written for the Folk Roots Column in Realms of Fantasy magazine, was republished in the Journal of Mythic Arts Farewell Issue, July 2008. I really enjoyed doing the research for this one -- as it opened up a whole new area of folk tales for me. Usually fairy tale and folklore plots are concentrated around rites-of-passage from adolescent to adult, ending with marriage. But these are tales that seem to question the very durability of a marriage itself with the failure of marriage contradicting the usual "happily-ever-after" tag ascribed to fairy tale endings.
A Chorus of Clowns was initially inspired by my research into the Italian Commedia dell' Arte, an improvisational and wonderfully funny renaissance theater. I thought about not only Commedia's origins in the early Greek and Roman theaters, but their descendants in the Marx Brothers -- famous for their "zany" antics (from the Italian "zanni" referring to the buffoons and clowns of the Commedia). The article originally appeared in Realms of Fantasy's "Folk Roots Column" (2007) and was republished in the Journal of Mythic Arts, Winter 2007.
Sleeping Beauty: Dreaming and Awake offers a brief history of this surprisingly robust folk tale (where it is learned our heroine does a great deal more than sleep and the hero is not exactly that chivalrous man we all remembered), and a summary of a panel on the story held at Madison's WisCon in 1999. The article was originally published in Realms of Fantasy's Folkroots Column and later reprinted on the Endicott Studio website.
* Art "Sleeping Beauty" by Sir Edward Burne-Jones.
Midori Snyder is the author of nine novels for children and adults. She won the Mythopoeic Award for The Innamorati, a novel inspired by early Roman myth and the Italian "Commedia dell'Arte" tradition. more>>