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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Old fables and their new tricks : exploring revisionist fairytale fantasy in selected texts by Cornelia Funke and Svetlana Martynchik Dreier, Stephanie


This dissertation argues that the fairytale fantasy, a hybrid genre that combines fairy tale and fantasy characteristics, not only inherits the qualities of its generic predecessors but also unlocks new opportunities for critical reflection. It does so primarily by retelling, revisioning, and reinterpreting familiar scenarios from classic fairy tales. The goal of this study is to provide means to the understanding of the narrative apparatus and the revisionist qualities of the fairytale fantasy genre. Fairytale fantasy is remarkable for its generic flexibility that allows it to reimagine classic fairy tale tropes and challenge readers’ expectations. Through an examination of two sets of case-studies from different national literatures, this dissertation shows that by integrating fairy tale’s historical context with fantasy’s creative capacity, works of fairytale fantasy produce a set of unique intertextual relations and narrative characteristics that influence the reading process in intellectually stimulating ways. Drawing from a comparative analysis of two fairytale fantasy works (Reckless: Steinernes Fleisch by Cornelia Funke and Klyuch iz zheltogo metalla by Svetlana Martynchik) and two fairy tale collections (Kinder- und Hausmärchen by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, and Zolotoy klyuchik, ili Priklyucheniya Buratino by Alexey Tolstoy), this study combines a historical analysis with a structuralist reading to illustrate how the fairytale fantasy’s generic hybridity enables the transformation of supernatural narrative devices into mechanisms of critical reflection. This work examines the devices by which fairytale fantasy engages readers into the world-building process and draws attention to the educational applications of the genre.

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