The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales

The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales

by Alison Lurie (Editor)


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The stories of magic and transformation that we call fairy tales are among the oldest known forms of literature, and many the most popular. "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Sleeping Beauty," "Little Red Ridinghood"—these ageless tales seem to have been written an almost magically long time ago. Yet fairy tales are still being created to this very day. And while they are principally directed to children and have child protagonists, these modern fairy tales, like the classics, have messages to those of all ages.
In The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales, Alison Lurie has collected forty tales that date from the late nineteenth century up to the present. Here are trolls and princesses, magic and mayhem, morals to be told and lessons to be learned—all the elements of the classic fairy tale, in new and fantastical trappings. In Charles Dickens's "The Magic Fishbone," we find an unusually pragmatic princess who uses her one wish only after she has tried to solve her family's problems through hard work. Angela Carter's "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon" is a "Beauty and the Beast" tale with a contemporary twist, in which Beauty leaves Beast to live the high life, becoming a society brat who "smiled at herself in mirrors too much." And in T.H. White's "The Troll," we find out how his father killed the troll that tried to eat him.
In these enchanting pages we also see how modern writers have taken the classic fairy tale and adapted it to their times in a variety of ways. Francis Browne, for example, takes a poke at Victorian standards of beauty in "The Story of Fairyfoot," about a young prince who is cast out of the kingdom of Stumpinghame because, unlike the fashion of the town, his feet are too small. Some writers, such as Ursula Le Guin, have taken familiar myths and turned them upside down. In Le Guin's "The Wife's Story," a mother sees the horrible transformation of her husband into "the hateful one", and then watches her sister and neighbors mob and kill this "creature whose hair had begun to come away all over his body...the eyes gone blue...staring at me out of that flat, soft, white face." And L.F. Baum's "The Queen of Quok," contains a castle and royal characters in a kingdom run by common sense and small-town American values. At one point the boy king of Quok has to borrow a dime from his counsellor to buy a ham sandwich, and greed transforms his young queen-to-be into a haggard old woman.
With tales from the likes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oscar Wilde, Carl Sandburg, James Thurber, Donald Barthelme, Louise Erdrich, and many more, The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales brings us through the modern-day world of the supernatural, the mystical, the moral, and reminds us that fairy tales are still very much alive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780192142184
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 07/01/1993
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 5.75(w) x 8.81(h) x 1.35(d)

About the Author

About the Author: Alison Lurie is a Professor of English at Cornell University and is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist.


Ithaca, New York; London, England; Key West, Florida

Date of Birth:

September 3, 1926

Place of Birth:

Chicago, Illinois


A.B., Radcliffe College, 1947

Table of Contents

Uncle David's Nonsensical Story about Giants and Fairies (1839)1
Feathertop (1846)10
The King of the Golden River (1850)29
The Story of Fairyfoot (1856)51
The Light Princess (1864)61
The Magic Fishbone (1868)99
A Toy Princess (1877)109
The New Mother (1882)120
Good Luck Is Better Than Gold (1882)140
The Apple of Contentment (1886)145
The Griffin and the Minor Canon (1887)152
The Selfish Giant (1888)166
The Rooted Lover (1894)170
The Song of the Morrow (1894)178
The Reluctant Dragon (1898)182
The Book of Beasts (1900)203
The Queen of Quok (1901)215
The Magic Shop (1903)224
The Kith of the Elf-Folk (1910)234
The Story of Blixie Bimber and the Power of the Gold Buckskin Whincher (1922)248
The Lovely Myfanwy (1925)251
The Troll (1935)278
Gertrude's Child (1940)289
The Unicorn in the Garden (1940)300
Bluebeard's Daughter (1940)302
The Chaser (1941)318
The King of the Elves (1953)321
In the Family (1957)341
The Jewbird (1963)352
Menaseh's Dream (1968)361
The Glass Mountain (1970)367
Prince Amilec (1972)372
Petronella (1973)380
The Man Who Had Seen the Rope Trick (1976)387
The Courtship of Mr Lyon (1979)396
The Princess Who Stood On Her Own Two Feet (1982)408
The Wife's Story (1982)418
The River Maid (1982)422
The Porcelain Man (1987)427
Old Man Potchikoo (1989)431
Biographical Notes443
Publisher's Acknowledgements454

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The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Foxen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a really good collection of fairy tales selected based on being specifically written by an author (in the sense of someone sat down and decided to write a fairy tale, instead of collecting or transcribing them from some other source). Most of them play on the genre of the fairy tale, although some of the older ones are also straight-up morality tales. My favorite ones tend to be the ones that play with the gendered nature of fairy tales (princesses in distress, that sort of thing) "The Light Princess" and "The Princess Who Stood on Her Own Two Feet" are both very good stories in that regard. The book is arranged chronologically, and the essay at the beginning about the whole idea is also very interesting. Overall this is a great, very well thought out, collection of fairy tales and fairy-tale-like short stories, and also a tolerably good overview of the history of the genre. Highly recommended if you're interested in fairy tales and they way they've been used in society.
the1butterfly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was happy to come across this, because I had long been asking myself the question of what constitutes a fairy tale, and this at least begins to answer that by the selection of tales provided. There are a good number of tales dating from 1839 to 1989. The tales vary in readability and enjoyability, but are good overall. They are also much more detailed than earlier tales due to being written rather than rewritten from oral versions.
pandoragreen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A delightful mix of short stories from 1839-1989. Some lesser known works from some well known authors such as George Macdonald, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Chatles Dickens, Howard Pyle, Oscar Wilde, E. Nesbit, L. F. Baum, H. G. Wells, Lord Dunsay, Robert Louis Stevenson, and others. Then into more modern authors such as Philip K. Dick, Tanith Lee, Angela Carter, Jane Yolen, etc. Quite the mix.