- Some Day Your Witch Will Come
I was familiar with Kay Stone's work on women and fairy tales, having used it in my teaching and feminist fairy-tale research; however, I was unaware of the impressive breadth of her scholarship until reading this book. This retrospective anthology of Stone's writing-which Stone herself selected, arranged, and introduced-is a delightfully engaging read for the fairy-tale scholar (as well as for the fairy-tale enthusiast who happens to skim parts of the book over the scholar's shoulder). Spanning three decades of Stone's work, this collection is divided into three more or less distinct chronological sections, though she acknowledges that they overlap. These sections reflect the thematic trajectories of Stone's research: fairy tales and women, fairy tales and storytelling, and fairy tales and dreams. Stone's journey from scholar to storyteller informs her multifaceted approach to fairy-tale studies, yet at the same time she is thoroughly grounded within a folkloristic perspective. The insights from Stone's dialogue with other scholars as well as her personal transformations make this book well worth reading.
The first section of the book contains some of Stone's better-known essays analyzing representations of women in fairy tales, including "Things Walt Disney Never Told Us" and "The Misuses of Enchantment." Though Stone is critical of her overly narrow and pessimistic view of fairy-tale heroines as passive and downtrodden, she acknowledges the importance of her early work, as it contributed a detailed, folkloristic critique of gender roles in fairy tales to the largely abstract and generalizing feminist discourse on fairy tales and socialization. In addition to providing a model for investigating gender in fairy tales, [End Page 416] the essays in this section add both general and specific components to the study of fairy tales. In "Three Transformations of 'Snow White,'" for instance, Stone uses a flexible methodology that incorporates Alan Dundes's notion of text, texture, and context as well as the literary concept of open and closed texts. This approach, asserting that "[t]he more detail put in by a creator, the less abstract and open the story" (73), can be applied fruitfully to any study of fairy-tale texts, though Stone uses it to trace the transformations of "Snow White" in particular.
In the second section, Stone continues to explore themes that she acknowledges initially attracted her to fairy tales-resourcefulness, transformation, and relevance-but focuses on storytelling performances rather than gender roles. As a folklorist, Stone is well positioned to appreciate how texts change over time and through multiple tellings, even if the teller is situated in a nontraditional oral context, such as a public library or a storytelling festival. This attention to creative process is especially apparent in "Difficult Women in Folktales" and "The Teller in the Tale," each of which comparatively traces how two storytellers balance the traditionality of the tales with individual innovations. Stone deftly explores the connections between tale content and lived experience; using interviews with storytellers as well as her own reflections, Stone asserts that although folktales are not in a direct one-to-one relationship with reality, they still convey important aspects of it.
Focusing on dreams and folktales, Stone's third section surpasses the brilliant folkloristic analysis of the preceding essays and accomplishes something truly remarkable: she is able to write about dream symbolism and archetypes clearly, intelligently, and analytically (and also, at times, humorously). Unlike the vague, mumbo-jumbo, mythopoetic muddle produced by many writers who attempt to tackle the topic of folktale and dream symbolism, Stone is rigorously attentive to the roles of culture and context in shaping meaning. She characterizes her work in this vein as a "complex garden of dreams, folktales, and personal stories intertwined and cross pollinating" (251). Because the meanings Stone articulates are grounded in story texts and lived experiences, she does not need to rely upon claims of universal imagery. The connections she makes draw on her folkloristic background, artistic inclinations, and personal experiences and are both thought-provoking and...