Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville (1650–1705), also known as Madame d’Aulnoy, was a pioneer of the French literary fairy tale. Though d’Aulnoy’s work now rarely appears outside of anthologies, her books were notably popular during her lifetime, and she was in fact the author who coined the term “fairy tales” (contes des fées). Presenting eight of d’Aulnoy’s magical stories, The Island of Happiness juxtaposes poetic English translations with a wealth of original, contemporary drawings by Natalie Frank, one of today’s most outstanding visual artists. In this beautiful volume, classic narratives are interpreted and made anew through Frank’s feminist and surreal images.
This feast of words and visuals presents worlds where women exercise their independence and push against rigid social rules. Fidelity and sincerity are valued over jealousy and greed, though not everything ends seamlessly. Selected tales include “Belle-Belle,” where an incompetent king has his kingdom restored to him through an androgynous heroine’s constancy. In “The Green Serpent,” a heroine falls in love with the eponymous snake, is punished by a wicked fairy, and endures trials to prove her worthiness. And in “The White Cat,” a young prince is dazzled by the astonishing powers of a feline. Jack Zipes’s informative introduction offers historical context, and Natalie Frank’s opening essay delves into her aesthetic approaches to d’Aulnoy’s characters.
An inspired integration of art and text, The Island of Happiness is filled with seductive stories of transformation and enchantment.
Natalie Frank is an American artist based in New York City. Her work is held in numerous collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Blanton Museum of Art. Her books include Tales of the Brothers Grimm, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Princeton), and O. Instagram @nataliegwenfrank Jack Zipes is the editor of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (Princeton) and The Great Fairy Tale Tradition.
"In giving us back the women heroines and images and lives that were once the heart and soul of the oldest stories, Natalie Frank is giving back to female readers the right to honor and tell our own stories."—Gloria Steinem
"Madame d'Aulnoy's stories pose a radical challenge to the status quo, and provide a bottomless well of inspiration and provocation. With a fabulous introduction by Jack Zipes and extraordinary artwork by Natalie Frank, this book feels like a portable door to d'Aulnoy's imaginary kingdoms. Her hydra-headed tales burst into view as ‘hyper-colored daydreams’ channeled through Frank's sorcerous hands."—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!
"The Island of Happiness is gorgeous, edgy, enchanting, perverse, and fabulous, just to name a few of its qualities. It’s unlike any other book I’ve read, or seen, which is not something one says lightly, or often. I intend to keep my copy forever."—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours
"Inspired by the large-format storybooks that overwhelmed our childhood laps—and here cleverly reduced to a compact size suitable for reading by flashlight under the bedcovers—The Island of Happiness is an all-engrossing treat. Within its pages, Madame d’Aulnoy’s arresting feminist fairy tales and Natalie Frank’s lush pastel illustrations comingle to complement and challenge one another, and to question our perceptions of personhood, sexuality, and femininity."—Elisabeth Hodermarsky, Yale University Art Gallery
"What I wouldn’t give to have been a guest at the Parisian salon of the protofeminist, literary adventurer Madame d’Aulnoy. The next best thing to such an invitation is this delightful book, filled with d’Aulnoy’s lost princes, femmes fatales, fearful ogres, and magical beasts. Jack Zipes's fluid translations, interspersed with Natalie Frank’s lushly colored, monstrously sensual illustrations conjure an astonishing world of literary and imagistic invention."—Leslie Camhi, journalist, author, and translator
"A prominent writer who impacted the fairy-tale tradition in significant ways, Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy merits renewed attention. In this collection of selected tales, Natalie Frank’s illustrations provide intriguing perspectives on d’Aulnoy’s work."—Anne E. Duggan, author of Queer Enchantments