Once Upon a Time : A Short History of Fairy Tale
Overview - 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. Read more...
More About Once Upon a Time by Marina Warner
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.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
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If you’re looking for a brief yet thorough overview of the history of fairy tales, you’ve come to the right place. Rather than sticking to a strictly chronological history, Warner (Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights) offers a series of chapters focused on different themes associated with fairy tales. For example, “Voices on the Page: Tales, Tellers & Translators” examines the oral tradition, narrative speakers like Mother Goose, and the (sometimes radical) revisions of translators. “Childish Things: Pictures & Conversations” maps the evolution of fairy tale illustrations, while “On Stage & Screen: States of Illusion” highlights new methods of retelling fairy tales, from early-19th-century ballets to 20th- and 21st-century feature films. Warner argues that fairy tales “try to find the truth and give us glimpses of the greater things,” not only conveying cultural values and providing clues to possible real-life events, but also allowing us to probe the psyches of previous generations. The thematic organization of chapters gives structure to Warner’s arguments, but they feel out of order nevertheless, particularly because the first two chapters are the densest. As a result, the average reader may put the book down before getting to the good stuff. But anyone interested in reading about the history of tales they first encountered in childhood will be edified and entertained. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Dec.)