Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Horror retellings of children's classics

Transformative works of the day: horrific retellings of children’s classics.  Are You My Mother? (a chilling story of self-delusion and parental feeling gone wrong);  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (“He’s going to ask for a glass of milk/and you will give it to him,/because you are incapable of acting in your own best interests.”); The Runaway Bunny (“‘If you become a fisherman,’ said the little bunny,/‘I will become a rock on the mountain, high above you./Better to be a stone and insensible to all things/than to stay here with you. Better to be a stone.’”); Oh, the Places You Went; The Gifts of the Giving Tree; The Hunger of the Caterpillar.  Really brings to light the shared thematic concerns of horror and children’s books.  Now if only someone will do the opposite and do the kid’s book version of Flowers in the Attic. 

No, I have more to say: several friends immediately reacted to The Runaway Bunny retelling with “this book was already creepy; this just makes the subtext text.”  I think that making subtext text is transformative, but doctrinally this reaction might be thought to create a problem because of cases like Salinger. What this retelling is, is interpretive—perhaps a better word than transformative in this context; interpretation has a long history as recognized fair use.  And we don’t find interpretations unfair just because other people have read the work and had a similar reaction.

1 comment:

Greg D said...

Outstanding post. I think you are exactly right w/r/t your analysis of interpretation. It’s interesting that "The Runaway Bunny" interpretation *gets* the story well enough to both build on it and make it creepier.