- The Frog Prince and Other Frog Tales from Around the World, and: ed. by Heidi Ann HeinerRapunzel and Other Maiden in the Tower Tales from Around the World, and: ed. by Heidi Ann HeinerSleeping Beauties: Sleeping Beauty and Snow White Tales from Around the World ed. by Heidi Ann Heiner
It is impossible to be a scholar of fairy tales in the digital age without having some experience with Heidi Anne Heiner’s hypertextual compendium of fairy-tale lore: the SurLaLune Fairy Tale Website (www.surlalunefairytales.com). It is part introduction to the field, part overview, part taxonomy, part catalogue— both literary and visual—and wholly fascinating, a kind of fantastical chimera of a website. Heiner is now filling a much needed role in the field by publishing casebooks on the major tale types: they cover much the same territory but are excellent for reference by students and scholars alike and present Heiner’s intriguing classifications and cross-connections between tale types and variants. In this review I examine a selection of the offerings, concerning Frog Prince tales, Sleeping Beauty tales, and Rapunzel tales.
Heiner’s casebooks (like her website) are a deviation from the normal model that results from the intersecting factors of technology, necessity, and entrepreneurship. With regard to technology, Heiner hyperlinks, annotates, and, perhaps most important, uploads available materials from their extant but inaccessible publications, which date back to the early days of the fairy tale’s popularity in English. As for entrepreneurship, through these self-published anthologies of public domain works, Heiner presents the texts in a format that [End Page 127] is not dissimilar to that of her website. The tales are not overtly academic— jargon-free—but they are scrupulously well researched and thoroughly and accurately cited; these are valuable tools for amateurs and experts alike.
Heiner, a librarian by training, began her site as a project during a graduate course in 1998, with the intention of annotating “Bluebeard.” In the intervening fourteen years the website has become a clearinghouse for tales common and uncommon and a gateway for fairy-tale aficionados (SurLaLune cannot be discussed without a tip of the hat to its message boards, which present a fascinating interplay between students, scholars, and popular authors of contemporary märchen). In keeping with those antecedents, Heiner’s case-books present appealing, bare-bones introductions, with occasionally pointed critical observations. For instance, in the essay addressing “Snow White,” Heiner says, “We love the wicked queen. She is the narrative force of the tale, the character who arguably brings us back over and over for more thrills. Her evil machinations are much more interesting than the domesticated Snow White’s cloying innocence” (7). The introductions are reprinted from their earlier publications in Faerie Magazine, and although much of their material is likely to be familiar to an academic audience, it serves admirably as introductions for undergraduates and as mainstays for scholars: the former for obvious reasons, and the latter because Heiner is extremely thorough in fulfilling her intention to present the tale types as completely and in as much breadth as possible.
In The Frog Prince and Other Frog Tales from Around the World, Heiner makes a point of including the multiplicity of tale types featuring amphibious protagonists, with categories ranging from “Frog Kings, Princes, and Bridegrooms” to “Frog Brides” to “Frog Wooing and Courting” to Mark Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” and their alternative versions and/or translations when relevant. I was particularly pleased to see that Heiner included both Verra Blumenthal’s 1903 translation of “The Tsarevna Frog” and Post Wheeler’s 1912 version, “The Frog-Tsarevna.” These two tales feature the same basic plot, albeit with the former being a...