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Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale

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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 down from generation to gen 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 down 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 her long writing career, 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 collection 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. She makes a persuasive case for fairy tale as a crucial repository of human understanding and culture.


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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 down from generation to gen 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 down 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 her long writing career, 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 collection 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. She makes a persuasive case for fairy tale as a crucial repository of human understanding and culture.

30 review for Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Once upon a time, long ago and far, far away, Marina Warner danced through the deep dark forest of fairy tales, a place at once uncanny and familiar. On her way she stops at the gingerbread house of stage and cinema, rests on the pyschoanalysist’s counch but does not sleep for a hundred years or two, peers into the fearsome gorge of real life, taps on the bridge of transmission built of translators, adapters and collectors of fairy-tales and avoids being caught by the racing, roving, wolf finger Once upon a time, long ago and far, far away, Marina Warner danced through the deep dark forest of fairy tales, a place at once uncanny and familiar. On her way she stops at the gingerbread house of stage and cinema, rests on the pyschoanalysist’s counch but does not sleep for a hundred years or two, peers into the fearsome gorge of real life, taps on the bridge of transmission built of translators, adapters and collectors of fairy-tales and avoids being caught by the racing, roving, wolf fingers and eye of the reader. If her way over those tangled, overgrown paths, under heavy branches and over abandoned spindles, dwarves and glass supplies is original or not I could not say but she is a vivacious and informative guide. She tells that ‘thus was it ever so’ Stories slipped across frontiers of culture & language as freely as birds in the air as soon as they first began appearing; fairy tales migrate on soft feet, for borders are invisible to them, no matter how ferociously they are policed by cultural purists (p.xv), that goes not just for the origins of stories but for their continued life, the fairy tale is a flexible and open form, it lives on, and on, and on, because it is continually reinterpretted and reinvented, perhaps the marsh is a better metaphor than the forest for the world of fairy tales for there is no firm footing to be had. Attempts to link Bluebeard to Gilles de Rais or Snow White to Saint Ludmila of Bohemia or Margarete von Waldeck are for her, to be led by the willow the wisp (or Rusalka if you prefer) into deadly deep waters. In fairy tales there may be generic warnings – family dynamics can be destructive - but similarities with actual persons or events swiftly looks co-incidental or forced upon examination (view spoiler)[ Gilles was accused of murdering boys not brides (view spoiler)[ and since his accuser and prosecutor gained possession of all his assets after his execution we might wonder if the accusation was itself a fairy tale (hide spoiler)] , while in the case of Margarete such interpretations assume that the dwarves were child miners stunted by working seams of copper deep underground from an early age (hide spoiler)] . Attention she says must be given to the teller of the story, ealry collectors she says ,in France, Germany, Scotland, or England where looking for an authentic national culture as a counterweight to the classical heritage. Later studies Warner points out stress the commonalities of all these stories either from the point of view that they spread continutiously and indiscriminately by word of mouth or because of some universal unconsciousness, but one can also look at the changes and shifts that occur in these stories as they cross borders and get retold, one group pf women at the court of Louis XIV used innocous fairy tales to criticise the king’s policies (this however did not escape the king’s notice), while the brothers Grimm stripped out the sexual elements of stories while retaining violence and made the family dynamics a little less stark (equally they made some stories poetic by expanding some which were very laconic and compacted) (view spoiler)[one strange story that they kept was of some boys seeing their father butcher a pig and decide to play butcher and pig with tragic results, Warner feels that this story lifted from a magazine editted by Heinrich von Kleist was at best an urban myth, by the Grimm’s felt it usefully demonstrated to children the importance of distinguishing between play and real life (and possibly what not to do with your pocket knife) (hide spoiler)] . John Locke she claims felt that fairy tales need not be told to children as they encouraged fantasy in which they were naturally rich – I was uncertain about that because I thought Locke argued that all people were at birth a Tabula Rasa, but I don’t have the motivation to unlocke that (view spoiler)[ and mention it only because it led to a pun (hide spoiler)] . Warner describes the world of fairy tales as an animated landscape, streams might talk and birds become brothers or frogs princes, but it is animated also in the sense that it can be conservative or radical, or indeed conservative and radical, Hans Christian Anderson, Italo Calvino and Angela Carter, Thus was it ever so, fairy tales forever reflect the interests of those who tell them(view spoiler)[ and who might as Apulius does in The Golden Ass discourage the auditor from taking them at face value his embedded tale of Cupid and Psyche through who tells the story and what happens afterwards (p.149) (hide spoiler)] , the recent crop of heroic female characters in film versions of fairy stories particularly is only to be expected in Warner's view.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Disclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley. If you are like me, you try to ration out the money you spend for hardcover books. Certain authors eventually reach the “buy in new hardcover” rank for a variety of reasons. I have to admit Marina Warner is one of those for me. I do have to admit that as much as I enjoyed this book, I must conclude that if you have read her other work, you can get this one in paperback if you need to save money. It’s not that the book is bad. It isn’t. It is a wonderful overvi Disclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley. If you are like me, you try to ration out the money you spend for hardcover books. Certain authors eventually reach the “buy in new hardcover” rank for a variety of reasons. I have to admit Marina Warner is one of those for me. I do have to admit that as much as I enjoyed this book, I must conclude that if you have read her other work, you can get this one in paperback if you need to save money. It’s not that the book is bad. It isn’t. It is a wonderful overview or flyover of the fairy tale genre if a reader has read much of the work produced by Warner and Jack Zipes then really isn’t much that is new here. This doesn’t mean it isn’t worth reading, for it is. Warner spends time on the Grimms and Perrault as well as showcasing lesser known tales, but she also deftly connects the fairy tale to modern times though the work of modern authors such as Atwood, Pullman, Byatt, Carter, and Maguire. In fact, any A.S. Byatt fan should run this for Byatt is discussed a few times. There is a nice section about fairy tales and film that focuses on more than Disney, though I have to wonder why Mirror, Mirror (a Snow White movie with Julia Roberts) doesn’t get a mention. Perhaps because it follows the story a bit too closely? There is a clarity and charm to Warner’s prose. This seems to be in part because her love for the fairy tale is coming out, and it is rather infectious. In structure, however, this book closely matches her Six Myths for Our Time lectures/book. If you are new to fairy tale studies or simply want to know about fairy tales, this book is a good place to start. It not only discusses the well known tales and tellers, but also directs the reader to influential and timely critics as well as popular modern authors. It is a good starting not only for the overview, but also for the further reading list at the end of the book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carly

    ~2.5 When I saw the title, Once Upon a Time: A Short History of the Fairy Tale, I knew I had to give the book a try. I had recently finished Jack Zipes’ translation of the 1812/1215 Grimms’ Fairy Tales and had been very intrigued by the forward, in which Zipes detailed the origins and histories of the Grimms’ tales and the reason for the stories’ evolution. Because this book calls itself a history, I rather expected an expansion of this theme, a history detailing the stories’ transcriptions and a ~2.5 When I saw the title, Once Upon a Time: A Short History of the Fairy Tale, I knew I had to give the book a try. I had recently finished Jack Zipes’ translation of the 1812/1215 Grimms’ Fairy Tales and had been very intrigued by the forward, in which Zipes detailed the origins and histories of the Grimms’ tales and the reason for the stories’ evolution. Because this book calls itself a history, I rather expected an expansion of this theme, a history detailing the stories’ transcriptions and an attempt to trace the evolution of the fairy tale archetypes. Unfortunately, I think the title is somewhat misleading: this book is less a history than a literary analysis. Warner’s definition of “fairy tale” is not the same as mine. Her focus is almost entirely on Western fairy tales (the only real exception is the Western retellings of world fairy tales) and spends just as much on present-day “fairy tales” as on the original stories, from Angela Carter to Philip Pullman to movies like Maleficent and Brave. In my opinion, most of the book is made up of literary criticism rather than ethnography or history. Although I’m not particularly fond of literary analysis, some of the aspects that Warner discusses, such as Bettelheim’s psychoanalytical analyses of the stories, was quite interesting. However, while I know this is more of an indictment of me than the genre, I tend to dislike the way that literary criticism tends to bolster claims with anecdotes rather than fact. For example, Warner claims that“Bluebeard’s afterlife in literature and other media divides sharply along gender lines: male writers see themselves in the role, with varying degrees of self-scrutiny and complacency, whereas for women, the Bluebeard figure often embodies contradictory feelings about male sexuality, and consequently presents a challenge, a challenge that they meet in a variety of ways.”Given the provocative nature of this statement, I would have expected that it would be backed up by some sort of census of stories, or at least a collection of examples in which male authors use the tropes that Warner claims for them. Instead, the only “evidence” is an example from one of Angela Carter’s stories and a rather fanciful interpretation of the low-budget, female-directed art house film Barbe-bleue (2009). Warner also makes other similar statements such as“Female protagonists are mutilated more often than male heroes.” “Females dominate fairytale evil.” “The Latin Americans, broadly speaking, do not undermine the structure of the magic they create, whereas the North Americans and Europeans make a show of their scepticism (superiority).”I don’t necessarily doubt these rather sensational claims, but given that both are quantitative statements, both could be demonstrated in absolute terms. Warner doesn’t even try. This pattern of grandiose claims backed by at most a few anecdotes is a general trend in the book. Warner makes her preference for “literary” fairy tales--and Victorian phrasing-- quite clear in her praise of the heavily edited and adulterated 1857 version of the Grimms’ fairy tales:“Comparison of the 1812 versions with the fuller, patterned 1857 final, now standard, edition shows that Wilhem had a fine sense of narrative dynamics, and that the tales benefited hugely from his multiple interferences.”Personally, I disagree completely, but given Warner’s own writing style, I’m not precisely surprised by her attitude. The book’s structure is overblown, with the sentences often lasting a half a Kindle page or more. A randomly-chosen example sentence:“Scholars who refute popular, unlettered participants in the tales’ history are staking too much on the literary record; the latter is interwoven in the dissemination of the story, in manuscript and print, and helps crystallize its features, but the case for the invention of an entire story, ab ovo, by an individual writer, flies in the face of evidence--Plato mentions old women going down to the harbour to comfort the victims bound for the Minotaur’s table by telling them stories, and Apuleius places his marvellous ‘Tale of Cupid and Psyche’ on the lips of an old and disreputable bawd.”Maybe it's just me, but I thought that Warner injected rather too many personal details into her descriptions. I don’t really care that The Bloody Chamber gave Warner “new, vital carnal knowledge” or about her early fearful memories of Arthur Rackham’s illustrations. I have a certain amount of difficulty determining the target audience for the book. If you know much of anything about fairy tales, you’ll already know most or all of the history and theories that Warner describes. However, if you aren’t familiar with the tales, the arbitrary examples that Warner pulls to support her arguments will be difficult to comprehend. Maybe it simply shows my lack of scholarly interest, but I found Sondheim's Into the Woods an equally acute exploration of the nature of the fairy tale. At the same time, there were still a few interesting details that I hadn’t encountered before. For example, Warner briefly details the life of Mother Bunch, the first author to describe her stories as “fairy tales.” Some sections of the book did meet my original expectations, such as the interlude in which Warner describes the theory that Gilles de Rais was the inspiration for Bluebeard, or that Snow White’s story can be attributed to the life of either Saint Ludmila or Margarete von Waldeck. Warner also details how the French Bete de Gevaudan became intertwined with the story of Red Riding Hood, and the ways that dictators such as Hitler and Stalin harnessed the fairy tale to inspire a sense of national identity. Overall, while I don’t precisely regret reading the collection, I think it would be better served by a subtitle that described it as a literary analysis rather than a history. Note: The quotes in this review are taken from an ARC provided to me by the publishers and may not be reflected in the final version. It is also worth noting that in my ARC, the entire text of the book was actually provided twice in a row. I skimmed the second iteration and the versions looked identical to me, but I only read the first instance of the book, so it is possible that some of my complaints don’t apply to the second copy. ~~I received this ebook through NetGalley from the publisher, Oxford University Press, in exchange for my honest review. ~~ Excerpted from my review on BookLikes, which contains additional quotes and comments that I was too lazy to copy over.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is an interesting introduction to fairy tales; from what defines them to how they have been portrayed on the stage and screen. Although I enjoyed this book, I still do not feel that I am really clear about the history of fairy tales, more how they have been reinterpreted and re-imagined in modern times. However, this book takes the reader through the traditional and oral traditions of fairy tales and explains the familiar plots and characters they incorporate, as well as folklore and magic. This is an interesting introduction to fairy tales; from what defines them to how they have been portrayed on the stage and screen. Although I enjoyed this book, I still do not feel that I am really clear about the history of fairy tales, more how they have been reinterpreted and re-imagined in modern times. However, this book takes the reader through the traditional and oral traditions of fairy tales and explains the familiar plots and characters they incorporate, as well as folklore and magic. Of course, there is much about nature and enchantment and we read about Mother Goose, the Brothers Grimm, the Arabian Nights and even Alice in Wonderland. In modern times, many fairy tales have been effectively, ‘de-fanged’ as the author puts it. She also looks at feminist interpretations of many tales and magic realism. This was an interesting look at traditional tales, which have been used for many years to explore themes of importance to people and help us understand the world we live in. However, although it touches on many important areas relevant to fairy tales, it does not effectively explore the history of them and I found it a little unsatisfactory in that respect.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Arielle Walker

    This was short and sweet and simple - I liked it enough to end up owning a copy, so it clearly did something right. Warner definitely leans more towards analysis than pure history, but what is history anyway but multiple opinions woven into one story? I personally enjoyed the subjectiveness of the book, and there is still plenty to be learned here.

  6. 5 out of 5

    ❀Aimee❀ Just one more page...

    This review is short and to the point. Though this book is a lot of history and commentary, it felt more like an engaging college class instead of a boring lecture. However, nothing really stuck with me. I did fall in love with the cover. Thank you Netgalley for a free digital copy to review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    The celebrated canon of fairy tales has been done to death in the last generation by Freudians, Jungians, women who run with wolves, Iron Johns and the prodigious Jack Zipes. Much to my relief, Marina Warner delivers on her promise of “a short history,” moving swiftly across two centuries of interpretation. Her short chapters are larded with unexpected illustrations (how could I not have known those by David Hockney?) and scintillating nuggets from Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Borges, Michel Tournier, I The celebrated canon of fairy tales has been done to death in the last generation by Freudians, Jungians, women who run with wolves, Iron Johns and the prodigious Jack Zipes. Much to my relief, Marina Warner delivers on her promise of “a short history,” moving swiftly across two centuries of interpretation. Her short chapters are larded with unexpected illustrations (how could I not have known those by David Hockney?) and scintillating nuggets from Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Borges, Michel Tournier, Italo Calvino and Angela Carter, each of whom recreated fairy tales for the 20th century.* Warner does full justice to the anarchic inventions of Carter, whose revisionist tellings are better than the originals.unlike most fairy tales, and certainly unlike the majority of the erotic fantasies selling fast today, her writing dazzles: her prose is unabashed in its festivity, lacerating scorn, and salty pungency. She puts on a performance of brilliant kinetic energy, displaying masterly handling of register, irony, allusion, phrase and lexicon. She is playful, richly layered, and exuberantly fearless as she attempts to reconfigure new possible worlds – where heroines will not submit but will understand their own appetites and act to fulfill them…Carter’s originality has saved her from assimilation by the politically correct: in 1979, the same year that she published The Bloody Chamber, she also “issued a deliberate and outrageous provocation, an essay called The Sadeian Woman [in which] she upheld the pornography of the Marquis de Sade as a feminist tool of illumination.” Warner includes a quick survey of fairy tales in film; her evocation of the films of Lotte Reiniger led me directly to YouTube. Her compressed account can only skim the surface but prompted associations of my own. (When she mentions the 17th century version of Sleeping Beauty by Giambattista Basile, she notes that the heroine “is raped while she lies unconscious” – an aspect omitted by Perrault but resurrected by Pedro Almodóvar in Talk to Her.) Maybe the best compliment I can give her book is to say that I need never read another history; I’d rather experience the tales themselves in all their inexhaustible metamorphoses. ___________________ * I’d hedge a bit in the case of Lewis – I could never stomach Narnia but still remember Till We Have Faces after 40 years.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    In Once Upon a Time, Marina Warner does exactly what her subtitle says--she gives a short history of the fairy tale. If you haven't read much criticism or history of fairy tales before, I think this is a great place to start. If you're already well-versed in fairytale history, you might not find much new here. I would put myself somewhere in the middle, an intermediate I guess!, so I found a few new things that I plan to do more research on. For instance, I was unaware of Tales from the Kathasar In Once Upon a Time, Marina Warner does exactly what her subtitle says--she gives a short history of the fairy tale. If you haven't read much criticism or history of fairy tales before, I think this is a great place to start. If you're already well-versed in fairytale history, you might not find much new here. I would put myself somewhere in the middle, an intermediate I guess!, so I found a few new things that I plan to do more research on. For instance, I was unaware of Tales from the Kathasaritsagara, and plan on reading it now. But even though I was familiar with a lot of her history, it's always fun to read about fairy tales! What I especially like is how Warner describes not only the classics--the French literary tradition, the Arabian Nights, Grimm, and the Victorian tradition--but also more contemporary approaches to the fairy tale. She has chapters on picture books, psychoanalytic theory, feminism, and film. Many times, it seems like general fairy tale histories lump everything after 1900 in a single chapter at the end, so I was glad to read a more contemporary history.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    This was a reasonably quick read, due to the fact that the book is a little square instead of being more...book...sized. The cover is great, and yeah I did a little cover judging on this one. The book itself, I feel, didn't quite deliver what I was hoping for. Maybe I've just read too much on the subject already due to papers I wrote in college. It was a nice little overview though, not all that different from a long term-paper. Instead of focusing on one element or going in depth on anything, it This was a reasonably quick read, due to the fact that the book is a little square instead of being more...book...sized. The cover is great, and yeah I did a little cover judging on this one. The book itself, I feel, didn't quite deliver what I was hoping for. Maybe I've just read too much on the subject already due to papers I wrote in college. It was a nice little overview though, not all that different from a long term-paper. Instead of focusing on one element or going in depth on anything, it jumps around. I should have expected that from the subtitle, I guess. It was like a summarized version of a semester course on the subject. A long-form syllabus. Lots of quotes from some favorites sprinkled throughout, and a few bits of illustration. If you've read a good deal of the original fairy tales and related works, you probably already have the gist of most of this in your brain.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This was originally published at The Scrying Orb. This book was alright. It poses a question of form: when a book is sort of middling, a bit boring at times but never quite bad, certainly not in any funny or remarkable way, how do you review it without affecting the same feelings in the reader of the review? My solution: Keep it brief. Once Upon a Time is an overview of the history of fairy tales — the major players, the major theories, the major events. From the early, sinister folktales and the me This was originally published at The Scrying Orb. This book was alright. It poses a question of form: when a book is sort of middling, a bit boring at times but never quite bad, certainly not in any funny or remarkable way, how do you review it without affecting the same feelings in the reader of the review? My solution: Keep it brief. Once Upon a Time is an overview of the history of fairy tales — the major players, the major theories, the major events. From the early, sinister folktales and the men and women that recorded them, to the shift to Victorian children tales, their places in Freud and other psychoanalyst’s oeuvre, to their deep examination by 20th century feminists, and then their reclamation of darkness and adulthood in the literature and films of the present day*. It is very general. I would call it shallow. It rarely delves. There’s a handful of interesting facts — for instance, Wilhelm Grimm ardently defended the violent lessons of fairy tales as necessary for children, while at the same time changing them to be as patronizing as possible to women and girls — but not enough to carry the book. The author is clearly passionate about the topic, but the passion does not translate to and infuse the text. And that is easily all it takes to move a non-fiction book from engrossing and memorable to serviceable. *I give this book points for mentioning Blancanieves, a seriously fantastic film retelling Snow White. It reimagines without diluting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    A neat little primer on fairy tales that will inspire you to go out and start reading the great collections. From the tales' early collectors to today's, perhaps, misguided reimaginings, the book moves quickly along. There's no great depth to it, which is often the mark of a deeply knowledgeable author who know what to leave out of an introduction. Rather, these are quick looks at structure, transmission, tropes, uses, audiences, and basically anything to do with fairy tales. So go back to your ch A neat little primer on fairy tales that will inspire you to go out and start reading the great collections. From the tales' early collectors to today's, perhaps, misguided reimaginings, the book moves quickly along. There's no great depth to it, which is often the mark of a deeply knowledgeable author who know what to leave out of an introduction. Rather, these are quick looks at structure, transmission, tropes, uses, audiences, and basically anything to do with fairy tales. So go back to your childhood favourites with adult eyes, and be amazed anew.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    “As Francis Spufford points out in his perceptive and unusual memoir, The Child that Books Built, by the time of Domesday Book in 1086, it would have already been impossible for Hansel and Gretel to walk more than four miles through any English wood without bursting back out into open fields. The landscape of fairy tales is symbolic; ‘The forest is where you are when your surroundings are not mastered’.”

  13. 5 out of 5

    R K

    DNF BORING Spent 51 pages reading dumb facts about fairy tales that everyone already knows! And what's with this lady's obsession with Angela Carter? I swear every other page her name is there! Also, she claims to talk about fairy tales from around the world but does not mention Japan not India. All examples come from either Europe or the Arabian Nights. I don't have time for this.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Wilde Sky

    This book provides an overview of the history of “fairy tales” and some of the ways that they have changed (been toned down) over time. I found this book quite interesting – contains a lot of detail, if anything too much.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    Warner returns to fairy tale territory and gives us an enticing, if sometimes confused, meditation on what fairy tales are, what they mean and what cultural work they perform. The sub-title calls this book a ‘history of fairy tale’, but this is at least as much a history, if a brief one, on the responses to, and scholarly work on, fairy tales. Individual chapters ruminate on various themes such as oral versus literary stories, the relationship between fairy tales and visual media, fairy tales and Warner returns to fairy tale territory and gives us an enticing, if sometimes confused, meditation on what fairy tales are, what they mean and what cultural work they perform. The sub-title calls this book a ‘history of fairy tale’, but this is at least as much a history, if a brief one, on the responses to, and scholarly work on, fairy tales. Individual chapters ruminate on various themes such as oral versus literary stories, the relationship between fairy tales and visual media, fairy tales and psychoanalysis, and feminist responses to fairy tales. Warner is, of course, hugely knowledgeable about the field but there are moments where I was unconvinced by her points: that seventeenth-century interest in fairy tales was fuelled by a rejection of Latinate classical myth; that myths are about gods and super-heroes while fairy tales are about ordinary folk (what about all those princes and princesses?); that myths have unhappy endings while fairy tales have happy ones. Even more controversial, possibly, is her slightly odd assertion that fairy tales warn us about child abuse, people trafficking, incest, rape and horror stories such as that of Josef Fritzl – if they do, they certainly don’t do it very effectively given her own catalogue of modern-day crimes that fit all those categories. Despite some niggles, this is an enjoyable read – though it doesn’t, perhaps, say anything new to anyone who has worked on or studied myth and fables. This will be enjoyable to general readers and to undergraduates fairly new to the field. The chapters are shortish, and there’s an extensive further reading list which is helpful. (This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marjolein

    Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com A Short History Of Fairy Tale... The cover immediately grabbed my attention and as I wanted to know more about fairy tales anyway, and possibly read some more of them, this seemed like a good place to start. I don't really know what to say about this book. I've been thinking about it for a more than week now, but can't figure out a lot of useful things to say. I learned that my knowledge of fairy tales is at least very limited and that t Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com A Short History Of Fairy Tale... The cover immediately grabbed my attention and as I wanted to know more about fairy tales anyway, and possibly read some more of them, this seemed like a good place to start. I don't really know what to say about this book. I've been thinking about it for a more than week now, but can't figure out a lot of useful things to say. I learned that my knowledge of fairy tales is at least very limited and that there's a lot out there I can still explore. Many of the authors mentioned (not of course Hans Christian Anderson or the Grimm Brothers) I'd never even heard about. Other things were less surprising; there's often a double meaning behind fairy tales? *Insert You Don't Say-face*. Even though I don't know a lot about fairy tales I'd liked to see some more variance in the origin of the stories. They are almost all European stories, with a few from the Arabian Nights, but where's the rest of the world? Another 'problem' I had was that I never quite enjoyed myself reading it. This probably says more about me during the period I read this (exams!) than the book but I found the writing quite dry and sometimes hard to concentrate on. I'm however planning to read some fairy tales soon... Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robyn Hunt

    For a short history of the fairy tale in such a slim volume this is actually felt very detailed, thorough and complete . Warner clearly has immense love and respect for the fairy tale genre and she offers very perceptive close readings of the tales she chooses to discuss. Was personally heartened by her frankness regarding Freud and Bettelheim and was pleased to see her address the topic of male heroes. Overall this text explores the wider topic of how far we manage to keep reinventing these tale For a short history of the fairy tale in such a slim volume this is actually felt very detailed, thorough and complete . Warner clearly has immense love and respect for the fairy tale genre and she offers very perceptive close readings of the tales she chooses to discuss. Was personally heartened by her frankness regarding Freud and Bettelheim and was pleased to see her address the topic of male heroes. Overall this text explores the wider topic of how far we manage to keep reinventing these tales according to the social and political mores of the day, whilst acknowledging too what we can learn from the intentions of the authentic sources as cultural and even, historical documents. I wasn't always sure that Warner felt certain reinventions of the tales were necessarily for the better given our modern consumer tenancies and perhaps would have enjoyed further summation on this problem. However, it is clear to Warner that the Fairy Tale endures and will continue to offer significant wonder and wisdom for future generations. I found this book very insightful and it also provided me with lots of new titles and authors to go off and explore.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Aldred

    With no pun intended, this is a magical read that you do not want to end. ‘Once Upon a Time’ is the type of book that could be little more than a dry academic checklist. Not so in Marina Warner’s hands. Her fluid writing guides you through the extensive and complex landscape of fairy tales from all cultures, conjuring up the old favourites in new forms as well as tracing their ancestral trees. It is interesting to see that despite the cultural diversity of fairy tales there are striking similarit With no pun intended, this is a magical read that you do not want to end. ‘Once Upon a Time’ is the type of book that could be little more than a dry academic checklist. Not so in Marina Warner’s hands. Her fluid writing guides you through the extensive and complex landscape of fairy tales from all cultures, conjuring up the old favourites in new forms as well as tracing their ancestral trees. It is interesting to see that despite the cultural diversity of fairy tales there are striking similarities in the concepts behind the stories. It is this resonance that is why this book should be a ‘must have’ on any writer’s bookshelf, regardless of their chosen genre. This is because, as the author begins to unpick the social, philosophical and cultural backgrounds of what are certainly not children’s stories, a rich tapestry of life begins to emerge. Modern authors using the fairy tale medium, including Angela Carter, AS Byatt and JRR Tolkein are referenced and their work commented on in a way that begs exploring if a reader has not already enjoyed their writing. This is not a book to race through, but one to take time with and enjoy every carefully crafted word.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Candace

    Warner does a thorough job of giving us a history of the fairy tale. She begins in the Prologue with a full definition of the fairy tale including all of its characteristics, then goes into the chapters breaking down these characteristics into even more detail. While doing this she discusses many different fairy tales, their meanings, and their authors. This may be one of the best things about the book as there are so many fairy tales that I discovered through this work. Warner’s work is detailed Warner does a thorough job of giving us a history of the fairy tale. She begins in the Prologue with a full definition of the fairy tale including all of its characteristics, then goes into the chapters breaking down these characteristics into even more detail. While doing this she discusses many different fairy tales, their meanings, and their authors. This may be one of the best things about the book as there are so many fairy tales that I discovered through this work. Warner’s work is detailed, interesting, and easy to understand. Recommended for any reader of fairy tales and be ready to add to your “to read” list! *I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    This is a good little read that takes the reader through the history of the fairy tale from their humble beginnings to the modern twists that the movies (and Disney) have added and how they have changed from generation to generation and country to country. Warner does write from a largely academic point of view which can be a little dry, particularly given the subject matter (seriously fairies, elves, monsters and goblins are exciting!) but there are moments where her passion and excitement seep This is a good little read that takes the reader through the history of the fairy tale from their humble beginnings to the modern twists that the movies (and Disney) have added and how they have changed from generation to generation and country to country. Warner does write from a largely academic point of view which can be a little dry, particularly given the subject matter (seriously fairies, elves, monsters and goblins are exciting!) but there are moments where her passion and excitement seep through. And it is these moments that makes this book really worth reading, there is just not quite enough of them for my liking. Having said that though this is still a fascinating read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melanti

    A pretty basic, though comprehensive overview. Didn't learn a ton, but I have many passages marked for book sugestions, and the bibliography looks like a gold mine for ideas on my next reading project. After what's been mentioned, I do really want to return to my abandoned comparisons between the original and revised Grimms.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vonia

    Beautiful art, researched information, interesting topics. Plus it is the perfect size for the coffee table. Then again, I have a soft spot in my heart for fairy tales and most especially paper crafting. You might not want to take my word for it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    This was a really interesting, and small, book about the history of fairy tales and how they have evolved. I really appreciated the fact chapters were small and easy to follow. She moves her way across fairy tales since they were first being compiled in their purest form (as the Grimm brothers did), all the way to modern retellings like Disney movies or the more YA books of late. And it was a wonderful discovery seeing them change over time. She talks about what fairy tales eventually tried to te This was a really interesting, and small, book about the history of fairy tales and how they have evolved. I really appreciated the fact chapters were small and easy to follow. She moves her way across fairy tales since they were first being compiled in their purest form (as the Grimm brothers did), all the way to modern retellings like Disney movies or the more YA books of late. And it was a wonderful discovery seeing them change over time. She talks about what fairy tales eventually tried to teach the children of the time, and how as they were viewed as adult literature as well they even tried to normalise the arranged marriages of Victorian era. Fairly tales have truly been evolving as society has changed, they have adapted through time to include new views and the new audiences they try to appeal, and it's wonderful to see just how much a story has been altered over the years, while still retaining part of its original content. Marina really does a fantastic job with her research, and she takes you hand in hand though her journey, always referencing big influences for fairy tales, some of which you might recognise if you really like this genre.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Becky Graham

    Exactly as described - a short history of fairy tales. This is a quick read with a lot of general information and few very insightful comparisons (especially between the French Bluebeard's Wives and the German The Robber Bridegroom, which do not seem to be the same story at first reading but actually have significant similarities). It wasn't as in-depth as I needed for the paper I am working on, but would be great for general research or anyone who is just interested in how fairy tales have chan Exactly as described - a short history of fairy tales. This is a quick read with a lot of general information and few very insightful comparisons (especially between the French Bluebeard's Wives and the German The Robber Bridegroom, which do not seem to be the same story at first reading but actually have significant similarities). It wasn't as in-depth as I needed for the paper I am working on, but would be great for general research or anyone who is just interested in how fairy tales have changed over time and location.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Angelina

    Easily the most accessible grad school book I was assigned to read--this is an excellent overview of the history of fairy tales, the issues surrounding fairy tales, and all kinds of other interesting tidbits that make you feel incredibly educated and "in the know" when you finish reading it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    If you are looking to brush up on your fairytale knowledge, this is a great book to start with. It discusses all the popular classics, as well as ones I hadn't heard of and went to check out for myself later. It gives a nice overview, with details on the authors and the history of the time period. I also appreciated the reading list offered at the end of this book. Warner spends time on the Grimms and Perrault primarily, but she also connects the fairy tale to modern times though the work of mod If you are looking to brush up on your fairytale knowledge, this is a great book to start with. It discusses all the popular classics, as well as ones I hadn't heard of and went to check out for myself later. It gives a nice overview, with details on the authors and the history of the time period. I also appreciated the reading list offered at the end of this book. Warner spends time on the Grimms and Perrault primarily, but she also connects the fairy tale to modern times though the work of modern authors as well as film; with special attention to Disney. I loved the ease of the narrative and the author's own voice of excitement came through on the pages. While this book was a bit boring to me at times, that's the way non-fiction usually is for me (especially biographies). This book held my attention for the most part, and I consider that a great success from a non-fiction book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alan Lindsay

    I was curious about how OzHouse would do under the microscope of this author. It offers another modern twist on fairy tales. I'd say it would do okay. Warner lost a little credibility with me by getting the name of Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum wrong (she calls him Frank L. Baum), but as a history of the Fairy tale, the book does a good job. It has to be a selective history, in this case lacking little in breadth but a lot in depth. It skims over everything. It starts slow and obvious, but b I was curious about how OzHouse would do under the microscope of this author. It offers another modern twist on fairy tales. I'd say it would do okay. Warner lost a little credibility with me by getting the name of Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum wrong (she calls him Frank L. Baum), but as a history of the Fairy tale, the book does a good job. It has to be a selective history, in this case lacking little in breadth but a lot in depth. It skims over everything. It starts slow and obvious, but becomes interesting and even informative about chapter 3. The tone is lighter than one might expect or want, as though the author isn't convinced she's doing serious scholarship, which, really, she isn't.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Furniss

    This was picked by my book club and I thought it made a change to read a non fiction book. I was intrigued to see how fairy tales would be pulled apart, dissected and explained and how they had with changed with society. Different chapters touch on different themes found within them and underlying messages are pin pointed and analysed. A few times I found myself realising the old tales I know had actual deep meanings and points put across and sometimes it was quite sinister!. An interesting stud This was picked by my book club and I thought it made a change to read a non fiction book. I was intrigued to see how fairy tales would be pulled apart, dissected and explained and how they had with changed with society. Different chapters touch on different themes found within them and underlying messages are pin pointed and analysed. A few times I found myself realising the old tales I know had actual deep meanings and points put across and sometimes it was quite sinister!. An interesting study with gorgeous illustrations and her knowledge on the subject is evident. I wouldn't have picked this to read myself nor would I read any further in to the subject but I think it may make a good discussion.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ann-marie

    I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my views or opinions of this book. I love fairy tales, hence why I chose to read this book. The cover is absolutely beautiful and captured my attention immediately. However, the book was unsuccessful in doing so. I was expecting a story, some sort of whimsical fairy tale, even a twisted tale would have been okay. Instead, this book breaks down every angle and reason behind what happens in fairy t I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my views or opinions of this book. I love fairy tales, hence why I chose to read this book. The cover is absolutely beautiful and captured my attention immediately. However, the book was unsuccessful in doing so. I was expecting a story, some sort of whimsical fairy tale, even a twisted tale would have been okay. Instead, this book breaks down every angle and reason behind what happens in fairy tales, and dissects them. I wasn’t looking for an informative book, instead, I was hoping for something to get lost in. Instead, I just felt lost.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Val

    The author has studied and lectured on the history of fairy tales and their evolution to the present day. This is a beautifully produced book of her lecture on the subject. It would make a good present for someone and I enjoyed reading it, but it is too short and reiterative of significant points to give enough detail for anyone really interested in the subject.

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