I haven’t found a Rebecca Solnit book I don’t cherish and possibly this one the most: Cinderlla Liberator, brand spanking new, shifts all the attitudes that got us into trouble in fairy tales to get to the good stuff. Self respect; love, humor, equality. Yum.
Have always been a fan of the Albert Einstein quote: ” ‘If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.’ So our Mom read and read and I read my son, Jon, all the 250 Grimm’s Fairy Tales and all the 14 Oz books so that when he started to read he read THROUGH each author he found fascinating. But tis true fairy tales and folk tales are ripe with all the prejudices known to man and womankind, so am grateful the fine hand of Rebecca Solnit turned to this work of transformation.
I found verbiage I can love: “Her stepmother made her do it all, because even though there was plenty for everyone, and plenty of people to do the work, her stepmother believed there wa not enough for everyone.” Hmmm…the basis for capitalism? Yup. And Solnit then carefully shifts the perspective.
Cinderella: she did not have a bedroom; she did kitchen work all day because her stepmother made her do it; Cinderalla grew strong and capable. Good young woman! And she was not a snob about anything, just noticing, not judging.
Way ahead of most people’s game! A valuable insight gained from our brief study of Non-Violent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg, was the Krishna Murti quote “Observation with out Evaluation is the highest form of intellgence” and this Cinderella has that down. She doesn’t judge her stepsisters, she comes to know their strengths and the things they love to do and helps them find work they can engage with – becoming a hairdresser, ex.
And, of course, Cinderella related well to all animals. She asked the horses if they liked being horses, the lizards what was important to them, and rats were not poisoned but trapped and let go later at the river. That way, when her fairy godmother (she had to have one) asked for some mice and a rat, Cinderella could hand them over, not terrified animals and violent but complacent and ready to become footwomen and a coachwoman. The animals didn’t mind at all if asked politely.
And so you see, Prince Nevermind didn’t have to own Cinderella and make her his servant/wife; they became friends who married others of their choice later.
All this and original Arthur Rackham black siloutte illustrations! How does Solnit keep doing such fine work? With grace aplenty. And you can pass that along to friends, family, and, especially those impressionable kids you call grandchildren or the children of others. This truly is a book for Kids of All Ages…