The Tale of Tales

The Tale of Tales

3.83 (496 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Giambattista Basile was a seventeenth-century Italian poet whom the Grimms credit with recording the first national collection of fairy tales. The Tale of Tales opens with Princess Zoza, unable to laugh no matter how funny the joke. Her father, the king, attempts to make her smile; instead he leaves her cursed whereupon the prince she is destined to marry is snatched up by another woman. To expose this impostor and win back her rightful husband, Zosa contrives a storytelling extravaganza: fifty fairy tales to be told by ten sharp-tongued women (including Zoza in disguise) over five days.

Funny and scary, romantic and gruesome, and featuring kings and queens, dragons and seduction, The Tale of Tales is a fairy-tale treasure that prefigures Game of Thrones and other touchstones of worldwide fantasy literature
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Product details

  • Paperback | 494 pages
  • 141 x 216 x 31mm | 434g
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Translation
  • 28 B/W ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT
  • 0143129147
  • 9780143129141
  • 35,107

Review quote

"Exhilarating . . . Invaluable . . . Vivid and fascinating . . . The body count is so high that it's lucky our dimwitted heroes and goodhearted fairies always seem to have convenient potions on hand to paste everyone's heads back on. . . . The writing has the manic, crowd-pleasing energy of a work meant to be read aloud." --NPR.org "Though [Basile] wrote for a literary elite, the dirt of an oral tradition clings to his telling, rich in legend and slang." --Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

"The first authored collection of literary fairy tales in Western Europe . . . [In Basile] we have the exuberance, outlandishness, and hilarity of an Italian Rabelais, or 'a deformed Neapolitan Shakespeare, ' as Calvino called him. . . . The text teems with a good-tempered, baroque liveliness and endless allusions to Neapolitan customs of every kind. It is a unique reading experience. . . . [The translator] deliver[s] a highly readable prose that mixes modern vulgarity with a vaguely proverbial aplomb ('every piece of shit has its own smell'), often refashioning old Neapolitan sayings into something credibly contemporary ('they were given pizza for pasty'), and never failing to use footnotes to offer the curious reader a sense of the rich life beneath the surface of the story. . . . She gives us an entire world, and gives it in the liveliest possible way." --Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books

"What makes The Tale of Tales memorable is twofold: the lunatic imagery used in many of these stories, and the occasionally tart tone taken by its narration. . . . The bizarre details of several of these stories offer much to recommend." --Literary Hub
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About Giambattista Basile

Giambattista Basile (1575-1632) was born to a middle-class family just outside of Naples, Italy. A poet, academic, and court administrator, he is most remembered for collecting the first set of European fairy tales, published by his sister two years after his death.
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Rating details

496 ratings
3.83 out of 5 stars
5 31% (154)
4 34% (170)
3 25% (122)
2 7% (37)
1 3% (13)
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