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PRINT March 1987

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE CASTLE OF MODERN ART

ONCE UPON A TIME. In childhood these magical words announce departure for the worlds of fantasy, story, and myth; in adulthood, that once simple, spontaneous passage loses its ease and immediacy, and the words become a nostalgic memory, a verbal madeleine. As Bruno Bettelheim has argued, fairy tales speak “simultaneously to all levels of the human personality, communicating in a manner which reaches the uneducated mind of the child as well as that of the sophisticated adult. . . . [they] carry important messages to the conscious, the preconscious, and the unconscious mind, on whatever level each is functioning at the time.”1 Yet the the adult, through a kind of repression, or an overdetermined sense of history, often pays little attention to fairy tales, though there is no reason to suppose that such stories, which can plan such an active role in the imagination of the child, are useless

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