SLL6 The Thresholds of the Tale: Liminality and the Structure of Fairytales
Manuel Aguirre, 2007
ISBN 84-931843-4-9

It has often been claimed that the genre of the fairytale enacts the hero’s exemplary journey of initiation and transformation; and in a certain light this is obviously true. Taking recourse to such fields as anthropology, mythography, comparative religion, folkloristics, performance theory and literary criticism, and leaning on ritual studies, Propp’s morphology, and liminalist analysis, this book offers a contribution to the structure of that journey and, more generally, to the ‘grammar’ of the fairytale. It concentrates on formal analysis of textual techniques, outlines a set of compositional principles common to ritual and fairytale, and postulates a performance-text continuum within which to view the fairytale as text and as a genre of fiction without neglecting its performative nature. This analysis, however, leads to a questioning of the traditional ‘heroic biography’ pattern, and to the proposal of an alternative framework –the Sovereignty model- which brings out the decisive (though mostly obscured) role played by the female figure in the genre. The Thresholds of the Tale should appeal equally to the folklorist and the literary critic, researchers in cultural studies and the history of ideas, as well as to anyone interested in the interface between the literary canon, folklore, and popular culture.