Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Gunter Kunert's Sleeping Beauty
Kunert's "Sleeping Beauty" is interesting not only because of how short it is but also because it is not told really as a story but rather as a summary of the themes usually associated with Sleeping Beauty stories. Furthermore, there is nothing beautiful about the girl in his edition. He describes the princess as follows: "her toothless mouth half opened, slavering, her eyelids sunken, her hairless forehead crimpled with blue, wormlike veins, spotted, dirty, a snoring trollop". Clearly not the portrayal of purity and beauty usually associated with this maiden in fairytales. The only elements that actually remind me of a fairytale in this story are the indications of a universality and a place far away. The characters and setting are unnamed. However, in every other respect I would argue this is not a fairytale. Kunert analyzes the genre from the beginning, twists the elements against the typical purpose of the story. I am not staying the story is without merit, on the contrary, I find it extremely interesting, particularly his last sentence, "Blessed be all those who, dreaming of Sleeping Beauty, died in the hedge and in the belief that beyond it there was a moment in which time for once and all stood still and certain" , it is as though he is condemning anyone who does believe in fairytales. Granted in the back of Zipes' book it was indicated that Kunert was a poet more than a storyteller but I still find his analysis fascinating even though I can't fully grasp it.