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The Owl, the Raven, and the Dove: The Religious Meaning of the Grimms' Magic Fairy Tales

4.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  41 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
The fairy tales collected by the brothers Grimm are among the best known and most widely-read stories in western literature. In recent years commentators such as Bruno Bettelheim have, usually from a psychological perspective, pondered the underlying meaning of the stories, why children are so enthralled by them, and what effect they have on the the best-known tales (Hanse ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 11th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

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Sherwood Smith
Father Murphy was a guest at Mythcon. His talk on the Heliand and the remarkable churches of Northern Europe, with their dragon roofs, was so compelling I had to get this book.

I was glad I did. I found this book to be far more insightful than Bruno Betelheim (whom he cites, and engages with snark-free grace) as Murphy doesn't try to fit the fairy tails into a modern psychological model. Instead, Murphy went to Germany and looked at the brothers' personal manuscripts, down to the university lectu
Rosamund Hodge
Read this for the upcoming Mythcon. It compares the Brothers Grimm version of several major fairytales to other versions (esp. Perrault), and argues that the Grimms emphasized Classical, German, and Christian allusions/symbolism in the service of (Christian) spiritual themes. It's an engaging book; I wouldn't take any of Murphy's interpretations as the One True Reading of a fairytale, but I think he does an excellent, painstaking job of picking apart the stories to show the possible resonances i ...more
Sarah Schantz
Nov 23, 2014 Sarah Schantz rated it really liked it
Last night, I sifted through my ever-growing stack of "to read" books, and came across this fairly new addition to the pile. Thinking, I'd just skim through it, then pick a work of fiction (since it is my Fall break from teaching college), I sat down with it and a collection of short stories I've been slowly making my way through. Two hours later, I'd discovered that I was halfway through The Owl, the Raven, and the Dove. Today, I finished the book.

I learned a lot more about the Brothers Grimm,
Aug 12, 2008 Thomas rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of fairy tales, mythology
Murphy, a Jesuit priest and Professor of German at Georgetown, provides a fascinating, Christian-themed look at the Grimms' tales,

I read Bruno Bettleheim in college and appreciated how he made the analysis of fairy tales respectable again. However, I think much of his book is tainted by Freudian overemphasis--when you focus a little to keenly on the groin area sometimes you miss out the deeply spiritual nature of the human race.

Is Murphy's book similarly prejudiced? Perhaps, but to ignore the Gr
There are some gems buried within this, but overall treatment was superficial. Would love to have had more presentation regarding pre-christian philosophy, and discussion of the unwitting role the Grimms' had on minimizing Classical and pagan worldviews. G. Ronald Murphy in his attempts to align the Grimm Fairy tales to Christianity understates that the underlying misogyny of a patriarchal system must vilify powerful female characters, so that the kiss of a prince, or the swing of a woodsman's a ...more
Mary Catelli
Jul 30, 2013 Mary Catelli rated it really liked it
The Brothers Grimm, as is well known, did not collect fairy tales with the rigor of a modern folklorist. Many of their tellers were middle-class, not peasantry, and of Hugenot and so French descent. Furthermore, they seriously reworked them.

This is a study specifically of what they did to rework them, treating them as Kunstmärchen, literary fairy tales.

There's a wealth of information about it, especially since they talked about sources, and sometimes we have their original notes, and certainly,
Clive Johnson
Dec 26, 2015 Clive Johnson rated it really liked it
A very thorough and intimate study of the Grimms' writings, offering interesting takes on the spiritual dimensions of their retelling of older tales. Recommended for anyone who's interested in the meaning of fairy stories.
Jan 28, 2015 Mimi rated it really liked it
An interesting examination of the Christian imagery in the Grimm fairy tales, including information about Willhelm Grimm's religious views, and of Germanic tales in general. Fascinating and probably one I'll return to at some point.
Sep 02, 2013 Lorri rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked this up hoping to learn more about the Grimm fairy tales. The book does not seem to be geared for a casual reader like me but more for fairy tale scholars. Thus I found the first section incredibly dry as it batted around different theories and interpretations. I found the sections on the individual fairy tales quite thought provoking but dense.
Jun 25, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing
This book was fascinating to read as someone who loves fairy tales. The images from Christianity fit into some of the stories quite well and the author made an interesting argument. However, if one does not like symbolism or literary analysis, this would not be the best book to read.
April Cordon
Jul 22, 2015 April Cordon rated it it was amazing
This book was very well done. It looks into the religious and classical symbolism that was purposefully woven into a handful of fairy tales. I highly recommend it to anyone who has more than a passing interest in fairy tales.
Dec 30, 2012 Michele rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and informative. Easy to understand, especially if you already have some knowledge of biblical imagery and symbolism. You'll never read the stories the same way again.
Rese Smith
Apr 11, 2012 Rese Smith rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed the ironic twist of unearthing lost Reformed beauty in the art of the brothers Grimm by a Jesuit priest. I'm ready for a second reading.
Jessica Linn Evans
Jan 25, 2016 Jessica Linn Evans rated it it was amazing
This book is AMAZING!
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Goodreads Librari...: Duplicate records 4 155 Aug 20, 2012 03:08PM  
  • The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales
  • Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness
  • Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood
  • From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers
  • Off with their heads!: fairy tales and the culture of childhood
  • Morphology of the folktale
  • Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales (C.G. Jung Foundation Book)
  • The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World
  • Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale
  • The Pleasures of Children's Literature
  • The Lore of the Unicorn
  • Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education
  • Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life
  • Gossip from the Forest
  • The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries
  • Addiction to Perfection: The Still Unravished Bride: A Psychological Study (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts, 12)

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