Following the Breadcrumbs: Young Adult Holocaust Novels and their Intertextual Use of Fairy Tales

Change log

This article explores young adult Holocaust literature and its intertextual use of fairy tales, examining the primary text Gretel and the Dark (2014) by Eliza Granville which uses the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. I discuss the ethical complications of using fiction to represent the un-representable and how intertextual use of fairy tales provides opportunities and limitations for navigating the moral grey area between fact and fiction. I employ Smith’s (2007) framework of intertextuality to examine two methods of intertextuality: explicit incorporation through framed silences and through metafictional discussion of fairy tales. I seek to answer three questions: How are fairy tales used intertextually in this text; what can be gained through the intertextual use of fairy tales; and what problems arise from the intertextual use of fairy tales? I find that the use of non-realist storytelling techniques such as framed silences, meta-framed silences and metafictional elements allows the reader to actively collaborate with the work of fiction in meaning making and to build literary competence. However, intertextuality can potentially be frustrating for a reader unable to grasp the intertextual references or unable to interpret the framed silence. I conclude that the use of fairy tale intertextuality in Holocaust novels creates cracks in the text which point the reader to the fictionality of the text itself, this is significant when negotiating the difficult ethical borders in Holocaust fiction between fact and artistic creation.

fairy tales, holocaust, intertextuality, children’s literature, metafiction
Journal Title
Cambridge Educational Research e-Journal (CERJ)
Conference Name
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
Publisher DOI
Publisher URL