Secrets beyond the Door
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Secrets beyond the Door : The Story of Bluebeard and His Wives

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Description

The tale of Bluebeard's Wife--the story of a young woman who discovers that her mysterious blue-bearded husband has murdered his former spouses--no longer squares with what most parents consider good bedtime reading for their children. But the story has remained alive for adults, allowing it to lead a rich subterranean existence in novels ranging from Jane Eyre to Lolita and in films as diverse as Hitchcock's Notorious and Jane Campion's The Piano. In this fascinating work, Maria Tatar analyzes the many forms the tale of Bluebeard's Wife has taken over time, particularly in Anglo-European popular culture. It documents the fortunes of Bluebeard, his wife, and their marriage in folklore, fiction, film, and opera, showing how others took the Bluebeard theme and revived it with their own signature twists. In some tales the wife is a deceiver; in others she is a clever investigator. Earlier ages denounced Bluebeard's wife for her "reckless curiosity" and for her "uncontrolled appetite"; our own times have turned her into something of a heroine, a woman who rescues herself--and often her marriage--through her detective work and psychological finesse. And as for Bluebeard? Once considered a one-dimensional brute, he has found renewed cultural energy both as a master criminal who kills in order to create a higher moral order and as an artist figure who must shield himself against intimacy to foster his creative powers. A brilliant account of how one classic fairy tale has been continually reincarnated, Secrets beyond the Door will appeal to both literary scholars and general readers.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 264 pages
  • 144.8 x 223.5 x 17.8mm | 340.2g
  • Princeton University Press
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 0691127832
  • 9780691127835
  • 458,026

Review quote

"A book that unlocks the reasons of transgression in the chambers of the mind."--Alex Moore, Foreword Magazine "Secrets beyond the Door is full of transmutations and sublimations. Harvard professor Maria Tatar . . . returns with a scintillating account of what generations of high and low culture have done to the Bluebeard folktale."--John Leonard, Harper's "A respected critic of fairy tales, Tatar takes on Bluebeard and the result is a deeply resonant, fascinating study of intertextuality. . . . [S]he persuasively demonstrates how the Bluebeard tale shifts its shape century by century, revealing the secret anxieties of the age regarding sexuality, coming of age, romance, marriage, and marital discord."--Choice "In this fine book, which both scholars and ordinary readers enjoy, as I did, [Tatar] casts her net wide. She reprints several versions of 'Bluebeard,' and discusses not only these tales and their many variants, but also the reappearance of the story in fiction, film, opera, and poetry."--Alison Lurie, The American Scholarshow more

Back cover copy

"Learned. Readable. Entertaining. This is a fascinating exploration of a story that in one sense never changes, but at the same time is always changing, illuminating shifting cultural attitudes about marriage, secrecy, enterprising women and withheld men. Tatar has produced a vivid kaleidoscope of curious women and the mistrust they arouse."--Nina Auerbach, University of Pennsylvania "A brisk, often breezy survey of one of the foundational stories of modern culture and its sexual mythologies. Tatar's book traces the changing, but still robust, reputation of Bluebeard's wife from its first wide dissemination in fairy tale and folklore to its later reworkings in literature, film, opera and cultural criticism. Tatar herself has been indefatigably curious in collecting various versions of the tale and in sighting otherwise almost invisible references to Bluebeard and his wife in contemporary literature."--Maria DiBattista, Princeton Universityshow more

Table of contents

List of Illustrations xiINTRODUCTION 1CHAPTER 1: The Attractions of "Bluebeard": The Origins and Fortunes of a Folktale 11CHAPTER 2: "Have You ever really been afraid? . . . of a man?. . . of a house?. . . of yourself?": Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, and Modern Gothics 67CHAPTER 3: Investigative Pleasures: Bluebeard's Wife in Hollywood 89CHAPTER 4: Rewriting "Bluebeard": Resisting the Cult of Death 108CHAPTER 5: Monstrous Wives: Bluebeard as Criminal and Cultural Hero 132CHAPTER 6: The Art of Murder: Bluebeard as Artist and Aesthete 152EPILOGUE 169APPENDIXCultural Variants of "Bluebeard" 175Charles Perrault,"Bluebeard" 175Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm,"The Robber Bridegroom" 179Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm,"Fitcher's Bird" 182Joseph Jacobs,"Mr. Fox" 185Thomas Frederick Crane,"How the Devil Married Three Sisters" 187Peter Christen Asbjornsen and Jorgen Moe, "The Hen Is Tripping in the Mountain" 190Gaston Maugard,"The White Dove" 194Richard Chase,"Mr.Fox" 198Guy Wetmore Carryl, "How the Helpmate of Blue-Beard Made Free with a Door" 202Rose Terry Cooke,"Blue-Beard's Closet," 1861 205Edna St. Vincent Millay, Untitled Bluebeard Sonnet 207Notes 209Bibliography 225Primary Literature 225Secondary Literature 229Films 239Index 241show more

About Maria Tatar

Maria Tatar is Dean for the Humanities in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. She is the author of The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales, Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood; and Lustmord: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany (all Princeton).show more

Rating details

72 ratings
4.2 out of 5 stars
5 38% (27)
4 47% (34)
3 14% (10)
2 1% (1)
1 0% (0)
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