In Willy’s ‘ Fairy Tales for the Disillusioned’ we find ‘there are no good fairies: the bad fairies killed them off long ago. ’ Bad magic also illustrates the crisis of masculinity of the time: in Arenes’ ‘The Ogresses’ we have a painter who falls in love with and is a victim of the Ogresses’ seven daughters. As mentioned above Bluebeard becomes a victim of scheming wives. A century before Margaret Atwood, AS Byatt, Angela Carter decadent fairy tales upended sexual stereotypes. Mendes’s Beauty refuses the prince’s kiss, preferring to dream on. Wily’s Daphnis and Chloe don’t marry, they just have sex: ‘ People have filled your head with ridiculously optimistic notions and persuaded you to believe in good fairies… All that, my children, is a farce, and you must believe the exact opposite of such nonsense.’
Richard Marshall reviews Fairy Tales for the Disillusioned.