The Internet offers collaborative possibilities as well as the ease of sharing. This blog, maintained as a writing tool for five years, has shared research that may not appear in my thesis. It also explored the personal narrative of a PhD journey as well as my relationship with Ernst’s work. Interested relatives and other acquaintances interstate and overseas discovered my blog through search engines. They have added to the research data available in State and Lutheran archival records and made personal papers and photographs available. Patterson and Lindberg (1991) claim that, ‘the private papers of authors and artists are important to the cause of learning’ (218) on two levels: one to allow insight and understanding about, the creative process of the author and at another as the ‘cultural heritage’ of how an author’s work has shaped or reflected for the reader, their environment. Relatives who have contacted me through my blog have offered further insight through their anecdotes, photographs and Ernst’s personal papers into her work. Rather than detract from a scholarly appraisal of Ernst’s published work, this intimate information has shed light on the quiet, background influences that impacted on Ernst’s life and her desire to write.
Internet and irreversibility
While I have chosen carefully what I place or submit on the Internet, it must be acknowledged that what is placed cannot be removed easily and may be modified or reproduced. To a greater extent what happens to the materials cannot be controlled, particularly in social media applications. Podsam (2006) warns that while a physical copy of a work cannot be changed, open source software can change a digitised image easily with the potential for manipulation. There is familial concern with the suggestion of unknown future digital storytellers having open access to Ernst’s stories.
In this digital age, the sharing of academic scholarship has changed. The Internet means research can be communicated rapidly but also irreversibly. A Google search indicates information on sites that can be directly attributed to my research. These include: the Australian Women’s History Network page (Robyn Floyd, 2010), the website of Noble Park Federal Politician for Isaacs Mark Dreyfuss (Constituency Statement May 26, 2011), a paper presented at the Australian Research in Education Conference (Robyn Floyd, 17 June 2010), comments added to the National Library Australia site and my continued editing of TROVE digitised newspaper articles about Ernst so that they are easily searchable (Robyn EF, 9 April 2011). There is also other information placed by others on the Internet: a number of article about my research (Storytelling Australia, Thursday, July 5, 2012)
A Google search will yield images of The Magic Shadow. Most are copies of Ernst’s The Magic Shadow Show which is the original front page of Ernst’s book published in 1913. Any book published anywhere before 1923 is in the public domain in the United States and so these reprints have now available as Ernst’s book was published in 1913. In order to analyse a copy I purchased a reprint. It was missing the last page of the final essay, was larger than the original book and had photocopy shadows that bordered the original pages. It cost fifteen dollars. The original book is freely available in digitised format from the Internet Archive.
The integrity of reproductions in this ePub market where books can be either downloaded to e-Readers or digitally re-printed can be questioned. Forgotten Books suggests that it is the world's largest online library advertising that it has over one million books available on demand using the latest technologies. One example is of The Magic Shadow Show available and downloadable on the ‘Forgotten Books’ website, placed in the category of Esoteric: Magic and Witchcraft (Forgotten Books, 2013). This is somewhat disquieting as it suggests that the book has not been read.
Reprinting, Revising or Remodeling?
Should Ernst’s works be reprinted, revised or modified to meet the needs and preferences of a twenty-first century audience? The re-working of fairy tales is common. When the Brothers Grimm published their first volume of Kinder- und Hausmärchen [Children and Household Tales](Grimm, 1812) containing eighty-six numbered and collected fairy and folktales they could not have foreseen the variety of adaptations of the tales two hundred years later. Hundreds of versions in different languages, audio books, cartoons, anime, horror and interactive worlds no exist. It could be argued that Grimm’s’ Fairy Tales should not enjoy continuing popularity in an era where the riddle of Rumpelstiltskin’s name could be easily solved using a search engine (Gollob, 2012) but they continue to be adapted for our era. In 2012, in readiness for the two hundred year anniversary of the publication of the Grimm’s’ first collection a number of new films offered to re-tell classic fairy tale versions with a contemporary twist: Snow White and The Huntsman (Sanders, 2012) and Mirror Mirror (Singh, 2012) offer different slants on the Snow White fairy tale while Hansel and Gretel and the Witchhunters (Wirkola, 2013) moves enchantingly into the horror genre. One television series, Once Upon a Time (Kitsis, 2011) is loosely based on fairy tales. Cab fairy tales can be reworked or modified to meet a new generation of readers while still keeping the integrity of the original story?
The suggestion by Hart (1950) that, ‘books flourish when they answer a need and die when they do not’ (285) intimates that it is the market or the readers who decide whether a book is resurrected. Dot and the Kangaroo (Pedley, 1899) an early Australian fantasy, published five years before Ernst’s Fairy Tales from the Land of the Wattle, has been re-printed and translated into many languages, the original story has been produced in book and digitised form, animated and filmed with a spin-off series created (Richards, 1988:56). Consider also the fairy tales of Tarella Quin whose fairy tale books were reprinted numerous times. Quin published her first fairy tale, Gum Tree Brownie in 1907 with enlargements and variations appearing with regularity in 1918, 1925, 1934 and 1983. The actuality was that Quin’s publishers were still in business during these periods which allowed for the opportunity for these books to be re-published.
Consideration of the changing perceptions of what was considered appropriate for a new audience was taken into account when Gum Tree Brownie was republished. The title was changed to reflect the omission of the story that gave the book its name. It was entitled The Other Side of Nowhere: Fairy Stories of the Never Never (Quin-Daskein, 1983). It is given an Australian flavour with the reference to the ‘Never Never'. Two stories that did not suit the coeval socio-cultural world were omitted. Cruelty and death were not seen as suitable topics for children’s books or at least in the manner portrayed for children in the 1980s. In the first story omitted, ‘Gum Tree Brownie,’ a brownie is captured and taken hostage in a cruel and capricious manner. The distress of the brownie is discernible and blatant. In the second tale ‘Exit to Faerieland,’ the author of the fairy tales in the book is met by all his creations and as he is old (and it is inferred he is about to die) is taken with them back to fairyland. A tale about the death of a child or person was common in many children’s books written in 1900s in an era of high child mortality and perhaps, the suggestion that a friend could be thought of living on in fairyland was comforting.
Discussing the digitisation of Hans Christian Anderson’s works Posdam (2006) questions whether Anderson would have embraced the technology as ‘spreading the availability’ (142) and encouraged a new readership or preferred an audience to whom only the original was available. While many of the stories are dated by social attitudes and norms, some like The Fire Elves (16-9), have historical significance in the description of fire fighting methods of the early twentieth century. The story evokes the fear of the community, illustrates fire fighting methods and community spirit when a fire begins. Ernst tells us that, ‘soon men gathered from all parts, armed with wet bags with bags and sallied forth to meet their common enemy’ (Ernst, 1904:18). Fairy Tales from the Land of the Wattle