Engaging Dickens's essay "Frauds on the Fairies" (1853), which attacked George Cruikshank's didactic moral retellings, this article interrogates the liberating potential of feminist rewritings. Can feminist revisions commit a fraud on the fairies by transforming tales into didactic narratives? What exactly makes an effective revision and for what audience? We examine three contemporary authors who take on this challenge. Barbara Walker duplicates classical tales by adding women into the standard, formal structure of the tale, thus reinforcing limited notions of gender. By doing so, she may destroy the integrity of the tales and commit the very fraud on the fairies that Dickens argued against. Still, there may be audience pleasures in these formulaic tales that cannot be dismissed entirely. We then examine retellings by Francesca Lia Block and Emma Donoghue to suggest how feminist and aesthetic concerns concomitantly transform fairy tales into liberatory ones.


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pp. 297-313
Launched on MUSE
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