ink drawing on 9″×11″ sketchbook paper inspired by the story of
I always felt a little sorry for the huntsman who got stuck with a dirty job. In the story, the queen becomes jealous, and orders a huntsman to take Snow White into the woods to be killed. She demands that the huntsman, as proof of killing Snow White, return with her lungs and her liver. The huntsman takes Snow White into the forest, but after raising his knife to stab her, he finds himself unable to kill her. Instead, he lets her go, telling her to flee and hide from the Queen. He then brings the queen the lungs and the liver of a boar, which is prepared by the cook and eaten by the queen.
There are many variations on the story which I find fascinating.
Here’s a list of some of them…
In the many non-German versions, the dwarves are generally robbers, while the magic mirror is a dialog with the sun or moon.
In a version from Albania, collected by Johann Georg von Hahn, the main character lives with 40 dragons. Her sleep is caused by a ring. The beginning of the story has a twist, in that a teacher urges the heroine to kill her evil stepmother so that she would take her place. The origin of this tale is debated; it is likely no older than the Middle Ages. In fact there are possibly two Albanian versions of Snow White: one where her stepmother tries to kill her, and another where her two jealous sisters try to kill her. “The Jealous Sisters” is another Albanian fairy tale. In both fairy tales the death is caused by a ring.
Paralleling the stepmother’s question of her magic mirror, the 1540 epic poem Padmavat includes the line: “Who is more beautiful, I or Padmavati?, Queen Nagamati asks to her new parrot, and it gives a displeasing reply..”
The story in Russian writer Alexander Pushkin’s 1833 poem The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights is similar to that of Snow White, with knights replacing dwarves.
One of the many retellings of the Snow White tale appears in A Book of Dwarfs by Ruth Manning-Sanders. Other versions include Tanith Lee’s short story “Red as Blood” (published in her story collection of the same title), and Neil Gaiman’s short story “Snow, Glass, Apples”. Other writers who have made use of the theme include Donald Barthelme (in his novel Snow White), Gregory Maguire (in his novel Mirror Mirror), Jane Yolen (in her story “Snow in Summer,” published in Black Swan, White Raven), Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald (in their story “The Queen’s Mirror,” published in A Wizard’s Dozen), Anne Sexton (in her poem “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” published in Transformations), Gail Carson Levine (in Fairest), and A. S. Byatt (in her essay “Ice, Snow, Glass,” published in Mirror, Mirror on the Wall).
White as Snow, another retelling by Tanith Lee, combines elements of the Snow White story with the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone.
Angela Carter has also written a postmodern version of the tale entitled ‘The Snow Child’ in her collection ‘The Bloody Chamber’. Her story recreates a version of the tale collected but unpublished by the Grimm Brothers in which Snow White is a child of the father’s desire rather than the mother’s.
In 1982, Roald Dahl’s book Revolting Rhymes rewrote the story in a more modern way. In this version, Snow White was a savvy young woman who stole the magic mirror to help the dwarves gamble on winning horses.
Snow White is also a significant character in Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series. This version uses aspects of the Seven Dwarfs’ Snow White, but has a sister named Rose Red.
In Ludwig Revolution, a gothic shojo manga by Kaori Yuki, uses aspects of Snow White story.
Mirror, Mirror, a novel by Gregory Maguire is based on the tale of Snow White. Bianca De Nevada is the child of Don Vincente De Nevada, who finds a mirror in a lake, a relic placed there by the mysterious stone dwarves. Don Vincente is sent on a holy quest for a branch from the Tree of Knowledge by Lucrezia Borgia and her brother Cesare, so that leaves Bianca under the watchful eye of the jealous Lucrezia.
Snow White or the House in the Wood, a 1900 novel by Laura E. Richards, is about a little girl who pretends to be Snow White. She is lost in the woods and finds a house that she hopes has seven dwarves. But there is only one dwarf who takes her in and cares for her a while. The dwarf is a person of importance who had lost faith in humanity but finds it again in the little girl.
The Blood Confession a novel by Alisa M. Libby about a young countess who bathes in the blood of virgins in her desperation to be eternally young and beautiful. The novel is told in the point of view of the countess and draws on the evil stepmother character in Snow White. When a young girl named Snow appears, the countess endeavors to corrupt her perfect innocence. The Countess is also based on the legend of Countess Bathory.
Shel Silverstein’s flippant poem Mirror, Mirror tells the alternate story of the mirror changing its mind after the Queen threatens to destroy it.
Emma Donoghue presents her version of the story in her short story collection “Kissing The Witch,” which does away with the prince. Instead it tells a much more complicated story of emotional tangle between Snow White and her young stepmother who is nearly the same age as she, with strong hints of romantic interest between the two.
Jim C. Hines’s Princess series of books include Snow White as one of the main protagonists. She is an accomplished sorceress of mirror magic, who works alongside Danielle (Cinderella) and Talia (Sleeping Beauty).