The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales / Edition 2

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Overview

Murder, mutilation, cannibalism, infanticide, and incest: the darker side of classic fairy tales figures as the subject matter for this intriguing study of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's Nursery and Household Tales. This updated and expanded second edition includes a new preface and an appendix containing new translations of six tales, along with commentary by Maria Tatar. Throughout the book, Tatar skillfully employs the tools not only of a psychoanalyst but also of a folklorist, literary critic, and historian to examine the harsher aspects of these stories. She presents new interpretations of the powerful stories in this worldwide best-selling book. Few studies have been written in English on these tales, and none has probed their allegedly happy endings so thoroughly.

Tatar provides interesting interpretations of the folktales that continue to fascinate children and adults alike.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Review of Books
Tatar's main concern is with the enduring hold of the tales on children's imaginations. Why should they enjoy stories about other children sent out to die in a wood, or being victimized by cruel stepmothers, or given impossible tasks to perform, and (if female) forced to marry frogs or bears? . . . The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales—related in language that is sharp, lively, and free of jargon—is delightful evidence that Grimm scholarship can give pleasure to the general reader.
— Janet Adam Smith
San Francisco Chronicle
Tatar takes detours into literary history here and into comparative anthropology there. What results is at once intelligently eclectic and refreshingly commonsensical, a thoughtful ramble through the dark childhood woods that haunt our adult dreams.
— Carl Maves
Los Angeles Times Book Review
A clear, imaginative and fascinating illumination of the stories we thought we knew.
The Christian Science Monitor
For scholars, students, and general readers, Tatar's book is a balanced, sensitive, and informative guide to the content and context of Grimms' fairy tales.
— Merle Rubin
New York Review of Books - Janet Adam Smith
Tatar's main concern is with the enduring hold of the tales on children's imaginations. Why should they enjoy stories about other children sent out to die in a wood, or being victimized by cruel stepmothers, or given impossible tasks to perform, and (if female) forced to marry frogs or bears? . . . The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales—related in language that is sharp, lively, and free of jargon—is delightful evidence that Grimm scholarship can give pleasure to the general reader.
The Christian Science Monitor - Merle Rubin
For scholars, students, and general readers, Tatar's book is a balanced, sensitive, and informative guide to the content and context of Grimms' fairy tales.
San Francisco Chronicle - Carl Maves
Tatar takes detours into literary history here and into comparative anthropology there. What results is at once intelligently eclectic and refreshingly commonsensical, a thoughtful ramble through the dark childhood woods that haunt our adult dreams.
From the Publisher

"Tatar's main concern is with the enduring hold of the tales on children's imaginations. Why should they enjoy stories about other children sent out to die in a wood, or being victimized by cruel stepmothers, or given impossible tasks to perform, and (if female) forced to marry frogs or bears? . . . The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales--related in language that is sharp, lively, and free of jargon--is delightful evidence that Grimm scholarship can give pleasure to the general reader."--Janet Adam Smith, New York Review of Books

"For scholars, students, and general readers, Tatar's book is a balanced, sensitive, and informative guide to the content and context of Grimms' fairy tales."--Merle Rubin, The Christian Science Monitor

"Tatar takes detours into literary history here and into comparative anthropology there. What results is at once intelligently eclectic and refreshingly commonsensical, a thoughtful ramble through the dark childhood woods that haunt our adult dreams."--Carl Maves, San Francisco Chronicle

"A clear, imaginative and fascinating illumination of the stories we thought we knew."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

New York Review of Books
Tatar's main concern is with the enduring hold of the tales on children's imaginations. Why should they enjoy stories about other children sent out to die in a wood, or being victimized by cruel stepmothers, or given impossible tasks to perform, and (if female) forced to marry frogs or bears? . . . The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales—related in language that is sharp, lively, and free of jargon—is delightful evidence that Grimm scholarship can give pleasure to the general reader.
— Janet Adam Smith
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This erudite, cogent perusal of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm's Nursery and Household Tales is, for the most part, accessible to a lay audience. Tatar charts the evolution of the tales through manuscript form and the various editions, and offers what she maintains is the first complete English translation of the prefaces to the first and second editions. The Grimms abandoned a scholarly effort to salvage pure remnants of folk poetry, advances Tatar, and ``with each new edition, the tales veered more sharply away from the rough-hewn simplicity of their first versions to a sanitized and stylized literary form that proved attractive to both parents and children.'' She demonstrates how the Grimms purged the collection of references to sexuality and incestuous desire but intensified violence, particularly when it took the form of revenge. In opposition to child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, Tatar warns that some cautionary tales may instill fear, rather than confidence, in children; regarding ``Bluebeard,'' she faults Bettelheim for turning a tale depicting the most brutal kind of serial murders into a story about idle female curiosity and duplicity. Tatar Spellbound: Studies on Mesmerism and Literature chairs the German literature department at Harvard University. Illustrated. December
Library Journal
Tatar brings into focus both familiar and not-so-familiar fairy tales as she by highlighting a number of important areas: the genesis and editorial history of the tales as they evolved from folk material to children's stories; interpretive approaches; nature and structure; the humble, fearless hero and humbled, hard-working heroine; villains; and, briefly, revenge. Her observations are unburdened by Marxist, psychoanalytical, or pedagogical biases, instead resting on sound and thorough scholarship and careful reading and comparison of texts. The absence of a bibliography is lamentable but should not prevent acquisition of this exceptional study by every library with a fairy tale collection. Patricia Dooley, formerly with Drexel Univ., Philadelphia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691114699
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 5/6/2003
  • Edition description: Expanded Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 601,766
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.38 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface to the Expanded Second Edition
Preface
I Children's Literature?
1 Sex and Violence: The Hard Core of Fairy Tales 3
2 Fact and Fantasy: The Art of Reading Fairy Tales 39
3 Victims and Seekers: The Family Romance of Fairy Tales 58
II Heroes
4 Born Yesterday: The Spear Side 85
5 Spinning Tales: The Distaff Side 106
III Villains
6 From Nags to Witches: Stepmothers and Other Ogres 137
7 Taming the Beast: Bluebeard and Other Monsters 156
Epilogue: Getting Even 179
App. A Six Fairy Tales from the Nursery and Household Tales, with Commentary 195
App. B Selected Tales from the First Edition of the Nursery and Household Tales 243
App. C Prefaces to the First and Second Editions of the Nursery and Household Tales 251
App. D English Titles, Tale Numbers, and German Titles of Stories Cited 271
App. E: Bibliographical Note 275
Notes 279
General Index 315
Index of Tales 323
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