Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time : A Short History of Fairy Tale

3.68 (597 ratings by Goodreads)
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From wicked queens, beautiful princesses, elves, monsters, and goblins to giants, glass slippers, poisoned apples, magic keys, and mirrors, the characters and images of fairy tales have cast a spell over readers and audiences, both adults and children, for centuries. These fantastic stories have travelled across cultural borders, and been passed on from generation to generation, ever-changing, renewed with each re-telling. Few forms of literature have greater power
to enchant us and rekindle our imagination than a fairy tale.

But what is a fairy tale? Where do they come from and what do they mean? What do they try and communicate to us about morality, sexuality, and society? The range of fairy tales stretches across great distances and time; their history is entangled with folklore and myth, and their inspiration draws on ideas about nature and the supernatural, imagination and fantasy, psychoanalysis, and feminism.

Marina Warner has loved fairy tales over a long writing life, and she explores here a multitude of tales through the ages, their different manifestations on the page, the stage, and the screen. From the phenomenal rise of Victorian and Edwardian literature to contemporary children's stories, Warner unfolds a glittering array of examples, from classics such as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and The Sleeping Beauty, the Grimm Brothers' Hansel and Gretel, and Hans
Andersen's The Little Mermaid, to modern-day realizations including Walt Disney's Snow White and gothic interpretations such as Pan's Labyrinth.

In ten succinct chapters, Marina Warner digs into a rich hoard of fairy tales in their brilliant and fantastical variations, in order to define a genre and evaluate a literary form that keeps shifting through time and history. Her book makes a persuasive case for fairy tale as a crucial repository of human understanding and culture.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 232 pages
  • 128 x 180 x 15mm | 282g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Approximately 20 black and white illustrations
  • 0198718659
  • 9780198718659
  • 58,871

Table of contents

Prologue ; 1. The Worlds of Faery: Far Away and Down Below ; 2. With a Stroke of Her Wand: Magic and Metamorphosis ; 3. Voices on the Page: Tales, Tellers, and Translators ; 4. Potato Soup: True Stories/Real Life ; 5. Childish Things: Pictures and Conversations ; 6. On the Couch: House Training the Id ; 7. In the Dock: Don't Bet on the Prince ; 8. Double Vision: The Dream of Reason ; 9. On Stage and Screen: States of Illusion ; Epilogue ; Index
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Review Text

the book is an enchanted material object, and reading a journey toward knowledge and wisdom. Gramayre
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Review quote

her light touch effortlessly imparts knowledge in your mind. A beautifully produced book, this will be a joy to anyone who loves stories. * Patrick Neale, The Bookseller * Marina Warner is our doyenne of fairy stories ... her scholarly knowledge is not just worn lightly but presented with a flourish * Amanda Craig, Observer * a spellbinding cultural tour de force * The Lady * An expert and intruiging guide to the roots and triffid-like growth of a significant genre * The Tablet * For such a small book it carries a heavy load, but Ms Warner's insights are both surprising and rewarding. * The Economist * Marina Warner's new book distills her work on the literary, cultural, psychological and social influence of fairy tales, old and new, into an elegant little volume. From fantasy to feminism - it is all here. * Wall Street Journal * Warner is always intelligent, writes with great elegance and bubbles over with new ideas and impressions. Many will enjoy her style, wide range of literary reference and infectious enthusiasm. * Irish Times * Marina Warner's newest book is as pocket-sized and potent as one might expect a short history of fairy tales to be...she manages to be astute without being intrusive...there is sharpness too. * Shahidha Bari, Times Higher Education * This is a book to treasure. * Helen Parry, Shiny New Books * wise, witty, elegant, little book * Amanda Craig, Mslexia * wide ranging and handsomely produced * Rowan Williams, New Statesman * ...this is a book to treasure. It really is the perfect introduction to the subject. * Desperate Reader, Hayley Anderton * elegantly concise * Literary Review * thoroughly enjoyable and scholarly account * Times Literary Supplement * the book is an enchanted material object, and reading a journey toward knowledge and wisdom. * Gramayre *
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About Marina Warner

Marina Warner's award-winning studies of mythology and fairy tales include Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (1976; re-issued 2013), Stranger Magic: Charmed States & the Arabian Nights (2012), From the Beast to the Blonde - on Fairy Tales and their Tellers (1994), Monuments & Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form (1985), and No Go the Bogeyman: Scaring, Lulling and Making Mock
(1998). Her Clarendon Lectures Fantastic Metamorphoses; Other Worlds were published in 2001; her essays on literature and culture were collected in Signs & Wonders (2000), and Phantasmagoria, a study of spirits and technology, appeared in 2006. In 2013 she was awarded a Sheykh Zayed Prize and the Truman Capote Award. She was awarded a CBE for services to
Literature in 2008. She is a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, an Honorary Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the British Academy.
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Rating details

597 ratings
3.68 out of 5 stars
5 22% (130)
4 38% (229)
3 29% (171)
2 9% (51)
1 3% (16)
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