From The Beast To The Blonde

From The Beast To The Blonde : On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers

4.1 (1,335 ratings by Goodreads)
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Entrancing, multi-layered and as wittily subversive as fairy tales themselves, this beautifully illustrated work explores and illuminates the unfolding history of famous fairy tales and the contexts in which they flourished. It also lifts the curtain on the tellers themselves - from ancient sibyls and old crones to the more modern Angela Carter and, of course, Walt Disney. A brilliant compendium of folklore, fairytales and learning which reveals unexpected links and histories behind some of our oldest and most-loved tales.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 480 pages
  • 152 x 234 x 35mm | 662g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • illustrations (some colour) facsimiles, map, portraits (some colour)
  • 0099479516
  • 9780099479512
  • 97,690

Review Text

"Consistently enlightening...this is a brilliant work: wise, witty and as magisterially omniscient as any Sibylline oracle"
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Review quote

"Can itself evoke the sense of startled wonder that these tales first gave us" -- Laurel Graeber * New York Times * "She is a terrific writer and an original scholar. This is a landmark book" -- Victoria Glendinning * Daily Telegraph * "Just like the tale-tellers she celebrates...she's a weaver of enchantments, each sentence is like a silken knot charming you further into her web of meanings" -- Michelle Roberts * Independent on Sunday * "Consistently enlightening...this is a brilliant work: wise, witty and as magisterially omniscient as any Sibylline oracle" -- Nicholas Tucker * New Statesman and Society * "Open the book at almost any page and you will find something to fascinate you" -- Noel Malcolm * Guardian *
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About Marina Warner

Marina Warner spent her early years in Cairo, and was educated at a convent in Berkshire, and then in Brussels and London, before studying modern languages at Oxford. She is an internationally acclaimed cultural historian, critic, novelist and short story writer. From her early books on the Virgin Mary and Joan of Arc, to her bestselling studies of fairy tales and folk stories, From the Beast to the Blonde, No Go the Bogeyman and Stranger Magic, her work has explored different figures in myth and fairy tale and the art and literature they have inspired. She lectures widely in Europe, the United States and the Middle East, and is currently Professor in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, University of Essex. She was appointed CBE in 2008.
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Rating details

1,335 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 40% (534)
4 37% (495)
3 18% (243)
2 3% (44)
1 1% (19)

Our customer reviews

In this wonderful, scholarly book, Marina Warner explores the social context, meaning, and metamorphosis of fairy tales - from the Queen of Sheba via Old Mother Goose to the Disney Corporation - and the preoccupations of the people (mainly women) who told them. Rather than treating the stories as `archetypal' tales, Marina Warner returns them firmly to their historical context - a context in which small children really were abandoned in the forest during times of famine, where daughters suffered incest in silence, and where the lives of penniless old women were precarious indeed. As she restores the social context that has been airbrushed away since these tales were written down, she reveals them as they were: coded strategems for survival, triumph, subversion, rebellion. Fairy tales, as she says, have `a generic commitment to justice'. This is an academic book and the prose is sometimes dense - a small price to pay, in my view, for the breadth and depth of knowledge Marina Warner shares with her readers and for her acute insights and observations. There is barely a chapter in my copy which does not have paragraphs underlined or copious notes in the margins - not because I was using the book to study but because I found it so darned interesting. I particularly enjoyed the second half of the book which deals with the themes that run through the tales: absent mothers, wicked stepmothers, reluctant brides, runaway girls, the language of hair, etcetera. The original paperback edition has got many fascinating - and sometimes startling - illustrations. The newer edition is much poorer quality and the illustrations suffer as a result. But buy it anyway if you are interested in fairy tales, in cultural history, in the wiles that women have used to galvanize, caution and advise, or in the role that story-telling plays to condition or subvert: this book will bring you both wisdom and delight!show more
by Miriam Day (
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