"But what will come out of it?"

Julia Schabas


Julia Schabas’ lovely essay on “Exploring the Unsolvable in Margaret Atwood’s ‘Bluebeard’s Egg’” recognizes the mystery that lies in the old fairy tales and the way that mystery engages contemporary writers. The tales were widely circulated and retold because of some inexplicable attractive mystery to listener or reader. This mystery was first critically analysed by Romantics like Schlegel and Novalis. As the latter said: “In a genuine fairy tale everything must be incoherent.” But for them, and for modern writers like Atwood, this apparent incoherence of meaning was a call to the reader to find some kind of higher order coherence or insight. That is what Julia Schabas finds carried over by Atwood from the older tale of “Bluebeard”: the unpredictable and inexplicable shifting power politics in an uneasy marriage are now enhanced and opened up to us in all their contradictions. —Dr. William Barker

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