Excursions Of A Bibliophile

What are u reading these days?

The Robber Bridegroom – Eudora Welty

Posted by Vish Mangalapalli on May 14, 2011

 The primeval hunger in kids to listen to fairy tales has not diminished a wee bit over generations. The eager ear, the curious mind and the visceral need for a well told tale with its attendant emotional rollercoaster ride is intact and undisturbed. Therefore it always surprises me to notice that the supply of newer fairy tales in the tradition of Hans Christian Anderson or Grimm has thinned down to a trickle – unless I am looking for them at the wrong places. They seem to have been gently nudged out by the new age fantasy writing which in pockets is of outstanding quality. Rowling’s Potter series, Ursula Le Guin’s “Earth Sea Quartet“, Pullman’s ‘The Dark Material Trilogy”, C.S.Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia”, Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series are some examples of this. An aspect that distinguishes these new age writings from the age old fairy tales is the lack of a perceptible feeling of a “gullible air of innocence”. The good old fairy tales provide this feeling in abundance. Consequently, I was pleasantly surprised to find a strong presence of this sense in Eudora Welty’s “The Robber Bridegroom” which I read recently

The Robber Bridegroom” is an original story in its own right but is built by amalgamating themes from some of the most popular fairy tales. The story is told in a voice which is unique, inimitable, full of amusing absurdities, hyperbole and localized to Mississippi America. Welty plucks and borrows the narrative threads of her storytelling from some of the age old, popular fairy tales like Snow-white and the Seven Dwarfs, Little Red Riding Hood, The Goat and Seven Little Kids, Rapunzel and Goldilocks. In doing so, Welty nowhere compromises on the original charm and attractiveness of a fairytale and that is a telling pointer to why she in her own right is a great and engaging storyteller of modern times. The beautiful daughter, the loving father, the long dead loving mother, the wicked villainous stepmother, her stupid and dumb side-kick, the ogre like robbers are all very familiar characters in the tale and Welty makes them realistic and memorable. And like all other fairy tales the story comes a full circle

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable short read

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