Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review: The Classic Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar

Title: The Classic Fairy Tales
Author: Maria Tatar
Enjoyment Rating: 6/10
Source: Ordered used from Amazon
Referral: Required reading for my Fairy Tale Folklore class
Books I've read this year: 120

This is another "school" book, and one that I would have been unlikely to pick up on my own. After all, I know the basic fairy tales, right? Well, after reading Tatar's book, I've decided I barely know the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fairy tales. The book gives a bit of history on the genre in the beginning, then includes versions of six different tales (Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Bluebeard), then stories by Oscar Wilde and Hans Christian Andersen, then some fairy tale criticism. What it can't include are the early oral versions of the tales, but I've been forced to reframe my thinking so now I see all of the written or film versions as retellings of older versions, or even as retellings of each other. For each tale, Tatar includes at least half a dozen versions, ranging from Perrault and the Grimm Brothers' traditional tales, to Roald Dahl poems based on the tales, to modern short stories by Anne Sexton and Margaret Atwood that use the tales as inspiration, but aren't straightforward retellings. Anyway, it's an interesting book and it's forced me to look more deeply at a subject that I may have dismissed as child's play before taking the class.

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