Fairy Tales and Counter-Culture

This week’s presentation, especially the parts focused on Mabel Dermer and Evelyn Sharp, made me think about the enduring relationship between fairy tales and counter-cultural movements. Looking at Mabel Dermer’s illustrations and posters particularly reminded me of the ways the psychedelic counter-culture of the sixties and seventies appropriated Victorian aesthetics and literature. I’m wondering now what it is specifically about this genre that lends itself so well to these alternative ways of thinking. One possibility brought up in class was the ability to explore alternate political and social realities through fantastical worlds. This was definitely the case in terms of Alice in Wonderland’s popularity amongst psychedelic rock musicians like Jefferson Airplane, who made frequent allusions to Carroll’s works as well as those of Winnie The Pooh Creator A.A Milne’s. I think another big reason for this close relationship is the Romantic and Post-Victorian adult world’s admiration for children’s open-mindedness and originality. These qualities generally align with more progressive and radical ideals, so it makes sense that they would be co-opted by these kinds of movements. I also feel like many generations find themselves seeking the same turn away from tradition into a world of more open and (literally and figuratively) colourful possibilities.


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