The Owl, the Raven, and the Dove: The Religious Meaning of the Grimms' Magic Fairy Tales / Edition 1

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The fairy tales collected by the brothers Grimm are among the best known and most widely-read stories in western literature. In recent years commentators such as Bruno Bettelheim have, usually from a psychological perspective, pondered the underlying meaning of the stories, why children are so enthralled by them, and what effect they have on the the best-known tales (Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty) and shows that the Grimms saw them as Christian fables. Murphy examines the arguments of previous interpreters of the tales, and demonstrates how they missed the Grimms' intention. His own readings of the five so-called "magical" tales reveal them as the beautiful and inspiring "documents of faith" that the Grimms meant them to be.
Offering an entirely new perspective on these often-analyzed tales, Murphy's book will appeal to those concerned with the moral and religious education of children, to students and scholars of folk literature and children's literature, and to the many general readers who are captivated by fairy tales and their meanings.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" itelligent, charming, and informative book." — The Chesterton Review

"...lively, careful, insightful, thoughtful, and provocative—a significant contribution to fairy tale studies." —Journal of American Folklore

"Grimm's fairy stories have almost never been considered from [the] perspective [of religious meaning]....Now along comes G. Ronald Murphy...ready to take the plunge into the deeps....Features a neat bit of literary detective work....My summary can only hint at the sparkling intelligence on display in Murphy's readings of the texts....He has added several dazzling layers of meaning to the tales."—Philip Zaleski, First Things

"Literary and cultural analysis of the highest order....Murphy shows in this book how thrilling it can be when our understanding of familiar stories that we enjoy and routinely share with our children is carefully—and lovingly—deepened and enriched by an astute guide."—renton Times

"Murphy's...finding of books in the Grimms' library is significant. Many previous scholars have acknowledged that fairy tales contain 'fragments of ancient faith,' and with this new information, readers can appreciate 'to what degree and in what particular direction' the Grimm tales were Christianized."—Philadelphia Inquirer

"Here is a fresh, erudite, and highly readable study of the beloved fairy tales of the brothers Grimm. Ronald Murphy advances our understanding of the Classical, Germanic, and Christian sources of these stories in a manner comparable to what Bruno Bettelheim did twenty five years ago from the perspective of modern psychiatry. Murphy proves that the Grimms were deeply influenced by biblical faith and that this spiritual vision is the most important key for unlocking the rich meaning of their stories. The Owl, the Raven, and the Dove is a book not just for the sharp tothed academic. I earnestly recommend it to parents and those who teach young people, or just anyone who loves fairy tales." -Vigen Guroian, author of Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination

"Wilhelm Grimm has found a worthy modern expositor- almost a brother- in Ron Murphy, whose gifts of research, sympathetic insight, and ecumenical religious imgination mirror those of the romantic literary genius, Wilhelm himself. Father Murphy's archival discoveries have allowed him to reconstruct Wilhelm's generous religious mentality, and his new readings of the tales in view of this mindset will come as a revelation to professional students of the Grimm's tales and to the general reader alike." -Joseph Harris, Harvard University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195151695
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 701,008
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ronald G. Murphy is Professor of German at Georgetown University.

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