I Review a Collection of Pre-WWI Socialist Fairy Tales

I Review a Collection of Pre-WWI Socialist Fairy Tales March 12, 2019

at First Things:

When I was a girl, I had a picture book, The Day the Fairies Went on Strike. This 1981 confection by Linda Briskin and Maureen FitzGerald, with charmingly ragged illustrations by Barbara Eidlitz, told a simple story of fairies overworked by their selfish bosses, the Mefirsts. They meet a little girl whose mother is on strike and decide to follow the mom’s example. They win reduced workloads so they can better meet little girls’ wishes. Perhaps under the influence of this book, I staged my own strike at school, demanding the right to wear shorts during P.E. My one-child picket line (my sign read, NO SHORTS—NO SMILES!) was not exactly a protest against economic injustice; it was also significantly less successful than the fairies’ efforts.

Briskin and FitzGerald were working in a fine old tradition. In Workers’ Tales: Socialist Fairy Tales, Fables, and Allegories from Great Britain, Michael Rosen collects more than forty short stories published in socialist-leaning magazines between 1884 and 1914.

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