Renegotiating ‘Once Upon a Time’: Fairy tales in contemporary Australian writing
Wood, D, Renegotiating Once Upon a Time': Fairy tales in contemporary Australian writing, The Fairy Tale World, Routledge, A Teverson (ed), Oxon, pp. 378-388. ISBN 9781138217577 (2019) [Research Book Chapter]
The twenty-first century has seen a burst of fairy tale activity in Australian literary writing, publishing and scholarship. The Australian Fairy Tale Society was established, and its activities have served both to marshal existing resources and stimulate new research, much of it with a historical focus on early attempts to forge an Australian fairy tale tradition. Two of Australia’s literary journals, Griffith Review (which has a broad general readership) and Text (which, as the journal of the Australian Association of Writing Programs, has a more academic audience), have in recent years devoted special issues to fairy tales in Australian writing. Meanwhile, and as surveyed below, the commercial publishing sphere has been alive with the production of fairy tale retellings in the form of novels, short fiction collections and anthologies. However, for all of this activity, which confirms Australia’s participation in a global "fairy-tale web" (Bacchilega 2013: 18), the range of uses to which contemporary Australian writers have so far put the fairy tale has been curiously constrained. The nation’s writers continue to look primarily to Europe for narratives they can use as the inspiration or scaffolding for new fictions, but unlike contemporary writers in countries such as the USA and Canada, they have not confidently remade Europe’s best-known tales in their own local contexts. Rather than reshaping European tales within conspicuously Australian settings, this country’s most prominent fairy tale revisionists have overwhelmingly chosen to set their new fictions in Europe itself, or else in fantasy worlds. While fairy tales are thriving down under, it would be difficult to make the case that Australia a fairy tale tradition that it can truly call its own.