The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales
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The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales

Edited by Maria Tatar , Translated by Maria Tatar

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The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales is a remarkable treasure trove, a work that celebrates the best-loved tales of childhood and presents them through the vision of Maria Tatar, a leading authority in the field of folklore and children's literature. Into the woods with Little Red Riding Hood, up the beanstalk with Jack, and down through the depths of the ocean with the Little Mermaid, this volume takes us through many of the familiar paths of our folkloric heritage. Gathering together twenty-five of our most cherished fairy tales, including enduring classics like "Beauty and the Beast," "Jack and the Beanstalk," " ," and "Bluebead," Tatar expertly guides readers through the stories, exploring their historical origins, their cultural complexities, and their psychological effects. Offering new translations of the non-English stories by the likes of Hans Christian Andersen, Brothers Grimm, or Charles Perrault, Tatar captures the rhythms of oral storytelling and, with an extraordinary collection of over 300 often rare, mostly four-color paintings and drawings by celebrated illustrators such as Gustave Dore, George Cruikshank, and Maxfield Parrish, she expands our literary and visual sensibilities. As Tatar shows, few of us are aware of how profoundly fairy tales have influenced our culture. Disseminated across a wide variety of historical and contemporary media ranging from opera and drama to cinema and advertising, they constitute a vital part of our storytelling capital. What has kept them alive over the centuries is exactly what keeps life pulsing with vitality and variety: anxieties, fears, desires, romance, passion, and love. Up close and personal, fairy tales tell us about the quest for romance and riches, for power and privilege, and, most importantly, they show us a way out of the woods back to the safety and security of home. Challenging the notion that fairy tales should be read for their moral values and used to make good citizens of little children, Tatar demonstrates throughout how fairy tales can be seen as models for navigating reality, helping children to develop the wit and courage needed to survive in a world ruled by adults. This volume seeks to reclaim this powerful cultural legacy, presenting the stories that we all think we know while at the same time providing the historical contexts that unlock the mysteries of the tales. The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales is a volume that will rank as one of the finest fairy tale collections in many decades, a provocative and original work to be treasured by students, parents, and children.

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  • Hardback | 448 pages
  • 224 x 258 x 42mm | 1,460.56g
  • 03 Dec 2002
  • WW Norton & Co
  • New York
  • English
  • Annotated
  • Over 300 often rare, mostly four-color paintings and drawings by celebrated illustrators
  • 0393051633
  • 9780393051636
  • 61,453

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Author Information

Maria Tatar chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University. She is the author of Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood, Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood and many other books on folklore and fairy stories. She is also the editor and translator of The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen, The Annotated Brothers Grimm, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, The Annotated Peter Pan, The Classic Fairy Tales: A Norton Critical Edition and The Grimm Reader. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Review text

Beautifully presented and illustrated, with brilliant annotations, this large volume of fairy tales is for both children and adults. The introduction by Maria Tatar, an expert on the history and culture of fairy tales through the ages, reminds us how vital these stories are to us as children, how they bring the imagination to life and help to form an understanding of wealth, poverty, conflict, romance, power, desire, elation and fear, as well as giving perspectives on 'good' and 'evil'. The accompanying illustrations are from earlier eras, and are much more powerful than much contemporary, 'safe' illustration, which can so often dilute and detract from the real essence of these often disturbing fables. Arthur Rackham, Charles Perrault and George Cruikshank are among many of the artists whose magnificent work is displayed in the book alongside annotations which give each story a historical and cultural context. Most of them existed for many centuries before being written down, and over time they have evolved through the oral tradition and as a result of changing moral and cultural mores, not to mention simple personal preference. For example, in 'Little Red Riding Hood', first published by Perrault in 1697, the heroine was originally eaten up by the wolf, but the more popular Brothers Grimm version, where the girl and her grandmother are rescued by a huntsman, became the dominant narrative. Even before Perrault, some versions of the story had Little Red Riding Hood eating the wolf's leftovers of her grandmother, thinking that her remains were 'meat' and 'wine', and in another she performs a striptease for the wolf as she plans her successful escape. These stories are enormously enjoyable for their own sake, and it is fascinating to discover that fairy tales that seem innocuous and light-hearted began life much more violently. This is a book that should be treasured and passed down throughout generations to come. (Kirkus UK)

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