Thursday, June 18, 2009

Briar Rose #2

I want you to pay attention to Gemma's version of "Sleeping Beauty." What are all the allusions to the events of the Hollocaust and to the Nazzi regime? Think of the symbols in her story. For example, what do the briars stand for?

Keep in mind also what Stan tells Becca: "Stories. . . we are made up of stories. And even the ones that seem the most like lies can be our deepest hidden truths" (64). How is Gemma's story both a lie and a truth?

Leave your comments and we can have an online conversation!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Briar Rose #1

Perhaps you've already heard of the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Maybe you remember the Disney movie from your childhood or maybe you've read Wendy Mass's book, Twice Upon a Time, No. 2: Sleeping Beauty: the One Who Took the Really Long Nap. However, did you know that fairy tales were originally written for an adult audience? Many were even violent. You may enjoy reading other versions of the Sleeping Beauty tale. If so, go to these two links: and As Gemma does in this novel, each reteller of the tale altered the story to make it more appropriate to the moral point they wished to emphasize. Be sure to read Terri Windling's introduction at the beginning of the book.

So, what are the essential elements of the fairy tale genre? J. R. Tolkien listed the essentials elements as fantasy, recovery, escape, and consolation. Another writer believes an element of threat is also needed. Tolkien said that they need to show "recovery from deep despair, escape from some great danger, but, most of all, consolation."

While you're reading, be thinking of an answer to this question: How does the story of Gemma's life show the essential fairy tale elements of fantasy, recovery, escape, consolation, and threat? Look at her version of Briar Rose and at Potocki's account of her wartime experiences.

Also, be thinking of the answer to this question: How does the novel follow and deviate from the fairy tale? You should look for at least 3 examples from the book and at least 3 examples from the fairy tale. It matters not which version of the fairy tale you use.

You may begin discussing this topic in the comments section of this blog post.