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July 17, 1976 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily, 1976-07-17

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Page Six


Soturday, July 17, 1976

_,eSx H ICIA DIYSudyJl 1,17

What tales tell

Angela Davis:

bAdMftktt/es t n the


TALES, by Bruno Bettelheim.
Alfred A. Knopf, New York.
328 pp., with notes and bibliog.
f $12.50
helm has jumped onto the
bandwagon. While it is not a radi-
cal departure from his general
range of authority. the subject of
his new book The Ues of Enchant-
ment: The Meaning and Import-
ance of Fairy Tales, is certainly a
trendy one.
Scarcely a year goes by now
without some college adding a
course in fnntasv literature or fairy
tales to its cur-culum. Acres of
paper are nrinted yearly with this
as the tonic. and writers from ev-
cry sectrum of interest are bar-
ing al tellina of 'heir own experi-
ence -with fairy tales as children.
Wel tht isn't all bad either.
This book i crtninly better than
some of the cnnferrional nonsense
that has nasred itself off as schol-
arly annlvis lately. They either
come from the reudirn school or
from the how-fairy-tales-helned-
me-grow-no rhnol Either way, the
intellectual standard is pretty
uniformlv awful.
Not so with Retteiheim. His is
a thonhtful honk. and (imnort-
antlv) a randah, hook. Ute knows
. hat her' trin- hout. therefore
doen't han to cfon +n the rnther
.frnit" odn ir-n - Cineil howansh
of thnor who i-re"' rathar less.
THE AVAlANCHE started with
Tolkien, who ennldn't leave
well enonuh nione. After nihlish-
Ie his delirhtfi l ord of the Rings
triloev (tetralocv, if one counts
The Ilohbit), he then published
some long, gassv and absurd sneech
he gave to his unfortunate under-
graduate students at Oxford, in
which he makes lanehable general-
izations about fairy tales based on
his own beliefs - and, I rather
suspect, also based on the phe-
nomenal sales record of his earlier
It was right around then that
Vladimir Propp's research on the
subject came to the public atten-
tion, where in Mornholory of the
Folk Tale he reduces all fairy tales
to thirty - one elements, stioulat-
ing that while all tales need not
contain all elements, yet no tale
would contain more than these
Since all cultures of the world
sare the same basic folktales
(couched nerhaps differently in
each, but the same story), we can
get neatly into all these Junglan
rg remarks about collective subcon-
Or, and this is perhaps the most
believable way, we can apply the
Freudian idea that a culture's
mythology would arise from its
need, and since human emotional
needs are the same everywhere,

naturally the folktales of all cul-
tures would be similar.
out which folktales apply to
what feelings, and, more specific-"
ally, what they mean,
Why have parents thought, out-u
rageously, that due to the great
amount of violence in these old<
tales, children should be protect
ed and shielded from them? Can't
they see that these tales are ele-
mental in forming a constructive
eo, from id and superego?
Bettelheim's approach to these
questions is perfect. He.divides the
book into two sections. The firstb
chapters discuss basic anxieties
and emotional difficulties which
are alleviated by the comprehen-
sion of various fairy tales. Citing
references, the second part takes'
various tales and analyzes each,
showint where one has been cor-
runted from its true form, where
another disnlays x, x, and x char-
The amazing thing about The=
User of Enchantment, particular->
lv when one considers the usual
style of books which deal in appli-
cations of psychoanalytic theories
to literature, is that it is so read-
One has to begin with a love of
the tonic, certainly, and a willing_
near alone with an interest to slog
thrnieh the complicated analysesn
of hnman f-elinar in orler to un- :
daretand his noints. Yet at the
same time with almo t no effort.
one ran sit har stare at the naes
with amazement, shriek. "Well,
awhv didn't I see that!", and read
This isn't to say that the book
donan't draw, particularly in areas
where he discusses the more ob-;
scure foktales of different cultures
than ours. Half of the fascination
with the tonic easily derives from
an interest in knowing what made
ts love these stories so much. One
can dissect Cinderalla forever, or
Sleeina Beauty, or Snow White,
even the less characteristic Hansel
ind Gretel: The Fisherman and
the Jinny speaks to us with rather
less urgency, and some of the oth-
er Oriental tales with even less.
Prono would tell us that our fas-
cination with one fairy tale ought
to be a. fascination with the whole
gamut. For the adult reader,
though, the need for emotional
sublimation via fairy tales having
gradually lessened during adoles-
cence, the hearing of new fairy
stories isn't exciting or enlighten-
ing, merely dull. Certainly as chil-
dren we might have welcomed new
instruction; now we merely look at
such pieces as curios, and clearly
the only interesting curios would
be familiar ones.
The fact is, the book is worth a
look if you at all like the subject.
It provides some fascinating in-
sights. And that should be enough
for some.
Jeffrey Sclbst is the Daily Arts Edi-

AS THE DEMOCRATS converged on
New York City to trumpet behind
an ex-southern governor and his
grin, I was leaving - bound for De-
troit, and a different sort of political
On TV the day before I had watch-
ed George McGovern, the great white
liberal hope of four years ago, give
a stiff recital of the late Doctor
Martin Luther's words, "Free at last,
free at last, thank God almighty
we're free at last." Now, settled com-
fortably into an Amtrak coach com-
partment, my eyes wgndered over
the rows of passengers and settled on
the porters seated in the corner -
they were all black.
I was going to interview Angela
Davis, one of the most notable if not
one of the greatest (in my mind) liv-
ing American revolutionaries. Since
Davis joined the activist ranks in
the mid-sixties, she has been denied
her Phd.; fired from an instructor's
post at UCLA; placed on the FBI's ten
most wanted list; seen friends killed
and jailed; and has herself been held
without bail, for sixteen months while
awaiting trial, with the possibility
of the electric chair hanging over
her head.
Perched on the edge of her seat in
a sparsely furnished ninth floor of-
fice. Davis greets me, cigarette in
hand. I note the special Gaulois
brand and she laughs, "they're made
from black tobacco and the paper's

treated so it's not so bad as the o
[T HAS BEEN four years since
acquittal on charges of mur
and kidnaping, charges which st
med from her association with Jo
than Jackson's attempted libera
of three black prisoners from
Marin County Civic Center in C
fornia: And even longer since d
onstrations really rocked the
tion's campuses.
But Davis is no less committe
her cause. She has undertake
tour, aimed at arousing support
a demonstration to be held on L
Day in Raleigh, North Carolina.
ganized by the National Allia
against Racism and Political Rep
lion, the demands of the march
be freedom for the Wilminston
and for Jim Grant: all nolitical p
oners bring held in North Caro
on con.oirary and murder cha
"'hirh stem from a Klansm
"What I'm trying to do now,"
explains during a dialogue on
most recent activities, "is carry
the responsibility I feel I have t
the sisters and brothers involve
my (coirt) case." She peers inte
at me through a pair of wire rim
classes, then surnrises me by
inr. "I don't really eniov doine
terviews. and sneeches. There
roma nonnie that do, but it's iust
romethinq I feel most comfor
with." To be sure. the Alliance
enied me nup. and offered Ifa

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