Marvelous Geometry (Paperback)
Narrative and Metafiction in Modern Fairy Tale (Series in Fairy-Tale Studies)
Wayne State University Press, 9780814332627, 253pp.
Publication Date: May 1, 2009
In Marvelous Geometry Jessica Tiffin argues that within twentieth- and twenty-first-century Western literature there exists a diverse body of fairy-tale texts that display a common thread of metafictional self-awareness. The narrative pattern of these texts is self-conscious, overtly structured, variously fantastical, and, Tiffin argues, easily recognized and interpreted by modern audiences. In this broadly comparative study she explores contemporary fairy-tale fictions found in modern literature and live-action and animated film and television to explore fairy tale's ability to endlessly reinvent itself and the cultural implications of its continued relevance.
Tiffin's skilled analysis draws on the critical fields of postmodernism, narratological analysis, stucturalism, feminism, and performativity, without relying solely on any one perspective. She considers important fairy-tale retellings such as the feminist revisions of Angela Carter, the postmodern narratives of A. S. Byatt, as well as fairy tales written for children by James Thurber. She also investigates both popular and high-art films, contrasting Cocteau and Neil Jordan to Hollywood romances and Disney, and analyzes the differences between animated features and live-action productions. Finally, Tiffin uses a case study of the recent successful Shrek films to situate the fairy tale in the twenty-first century as an endlessly adaptable folk narrative that self-consciously and affectionately reflects generic structures and significant cultural assumptions.
Marvelous Geometry covers a wide range of familiar and unfamiliar primary texts from a novel and fruitful perspective. Tiffin's focus on the metafictional nature of the fairy tale turns readers' attention to the genre's narrative structure and aesthetic qualities without ever losing sight of the fairy tale's sociocultural impact as powerful marvelous narrative. Scholars of literary and fairy-tale studies will enjoy Tiffin's expansive analysis.