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The Classic Fairy Tales

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  2,312 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
This Norton Critical Edition collects forty-four fairy tales, from the fifth century to the present. The Classic Fairy Tales focuses on six tale types: "Little Red Riding Hood," "Beauty and the Beast," "Snow White," "Cinderella," "Bluebeard," and "Hansel and Gretel," and presents multicultural variants and sophisticated literary rescriptings. Also reprinted are tales by Ha ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 17th 1998 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published November 4th 1998)
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Mar 07, 2012 Laynerussell rated it it was amazing
I was astonished by how gory the better stories were, and then by how bloodthirsty my children were as readers. The criticism and the selections themselves were great, but seeing kids put down the Ipod to read The Juniper Tree out loud to each other again and again is proof of the necessity of these archetypal tales, especially now.
Yes, I needed to read this one for school, but it was so interesting that I thought I'd tell you all a little about my thoughts on it. The Classic Fairy Tales is about as bland of a title as you can get when it comes to this collection. Edited and selected by Maria Tartar, most of the book contains fairy tales while about a fourth of it is articles and criticism concerning fairy tales both modern and ancient.

The fairy tales are all separated into different sections in the book so that the reader
Jan 15, 2013 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, art
Interesting to learn the various versions and history of fairy tales...a far cry from disney. This book inspired the following poem based on "The Little Match Girl" It is dark, but such is the way with fairy tales I have learned.

"The Littlest Match Girl”
By: Shannon Ingram

The vague memory
of my older sister
still haunts my soul
and how she froze to death
on New Year’s day
when others drank champagne and sang
some song about old acquaintances forgotten.

A failed peddler of matches,
an empty belly,
bare f
Mike Anastasia
Jul 20, 2014 Mike Anastasia rated it really liked it
Tatar's book, along with Jack Zipes' anthology, represent the cream of the collective crop with regards to fairytale studies. This book is denser than Zipes' and also has more material, but I found Zipes' writing style easier to read over the long haul. As someone who wasn't terribly interested in folklore, it can get a bit banal at times.

This version, more so than Zipes', is loaded with gore. As many people know, most of the Disneyesque fairy tales we grew up with were actually riddled with dr
Mar 02, 2009 Saide rated it really liked it
Shelves: mustread
I wrote an essay based on what I truly learned from this fascinating book:
A Rite of Passage ‘To Eat or To Be Eaten’
The primary subject of the two fairy tales: Hansel and Gretel and the Little Thumbing are to narrate the rite of passage from a powerless childhood to the resourceful young adulthood. Two woodcutter families decide to get rid of their children during the famine and by doing so put their children in a dire position of to eat or to be eaten.
Centuries ago, long before industrial revo
Miguel Angel
Read this for a class last year but forgot to mark it as "read". I found the stories in it very fascinating and interesting. The real and true fairy tales that companies take material from are much darker and sinister, and I love them.
Mar 17, 2017 kim rated it liked it
The collection is great and I had to read it for school.
Oct 06, 2016 Erika rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
This book had everything you'll want to know about Fairy Tales and their history. I loved reading all the different versions.
Sep 30, 2016 Cecilia rated it it was amazing
I had to read this book for my Monsters and Fairy Tales class. I thought that all of these stories were very interesting!!! The introductions on each fairy tale gave great insight into the themes and origins of each Fairy Tale. Also, the essays in the back were very helpful to me!
Apr 19, 2015 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-to-own
An exceptional collection of fairy tales. It was eye-opening to see the different versions of the same tale juxtaposed and the critical commentary and analysis illuminated new meanings to the stories we all grew up listening to.

"The staying power of these stories, their widespread and enduring popularity, suggests that they must be addressing issues that have a significant social function - whether critical, conservative, compensatory, or therapeutic." (Intro)

On Beauty and the Beast:
-These tales
Alex Fairhill
May 25, 2015 Alex Fairhill rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic, fairy-tales
I picked up this book to use for a uni assignment, and ended up reading the lot. Tatar has collected several versions of stories including Cinderella, Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast, and Little Red Riding Hood as well as some key academic essays in the study of fairy tales, and introductions to each collection of variants.

The different versions of the tales from different cultures, authors and times from folklore to contemporary are fascinating - particularly given the versions we're most famil
Aug 09, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it
A nice concept for a collection, The Classic Fairy Tales is divided into sections for each of the classic stories (Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Cinderella, Bluebeard and Hansel and Gretel). Each section has a somewhat lengthy introduction, that is a little heavy on feminist psychoanalysis/Bettleheim etc., but still interesting. Then it has five or six variants of the stories, including the classic Grimm and/or Perrault versions, versions drawn from other cultures aro ...more
Laura Anderson
Fans of fairy tales everywhere should read this. Maria Tatar brings together fairy tales from around the world, tied together in chapters with familiar modern Western titles (Cinderella, Red Riding hood, etc) and examined with a critical introduction.

For instance, we are treated to the familiar version of Grimms Cinderella alongside the Chinese Yeh-hsien, French Donkeyskin, English Catskin, Himilayan Story of the Black Cow and the Egyptian Princess in the Suit of Leather. Reading the tales toge
Jun 16, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
A fantastic collection, both as entertainment and as an introduction to the world of academic folklore studies.
Criticism from; Tatar, Warner, Zipes, Darnton, Propp and Aarne/Thompson; on contributions from; the Grimms, Perrault, Straparola, Basile, Anderson, Wilde, Dahl, Calvino, Carter, and Atwood. The gang is all here! A veritable 'who's who' of folklore and its study.
The criticism offers a broad range and takes into account modern and postmodern ideas of perspective, historical context,
Feb 27, 2009 Cici rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Cici by: Suzanne actually gave me this book :)
Shelves: fairy-tales
I honestly did not know fairy tales were this dark until I read this book! All the fairy tales were a little disturbing because they don't have the classic fairytale "happily-ever-after"
I had never even heard of half these fairytales.. probably because a lot of them are different countries versions.
Juniper Tree and Bluebeard were probably the creepiest out of the book.
I guess now, looking back, the story of Hansel and Gretel was pretty scary.. but they also defeated the witch, so it softened the
Apr 03, 2010 Briana rated it really liked it
This is an excellent collection of fairy tales and I love the way that its organized. Instead of a single story--some that you are familiar with and some that you are not--the Norton edition grouped a number of stories under different categories so for Beauty and the Beast there were several variants, some very old, some modern, some that were sparse in style and others that were eloquent and intricate. For the fairy tale/folklore buff this collection is quite useful. Some of the lit crit essays ...more
Samantha Rodriguez
Jun 08, 2011 Samantha Rodriguez rated it it was amazing
I MOST DEFINITELY enjoyed reading this book. I liked it because everyone knows about the disney version of fairy tales, but not many know about the original version. Disney versions always have a happy ending. Many of the fairy tales in this book didn't always have a happy ending. It was interesting to find out how Disney completely recreated these fairy tales that originally have profanity, violence, and graphic scenes. This was my mom's book for college, so it's not really appropriate for my a ...more
Samuel Sanchinel
Oct 10, 2015 Samuel Sanchinel rated it it was amazing
Great, eye-opening read! Shows the relation of fairy tales through culture in time while explaining the underlying messages that they portray. An important read i our modern world to see how the stories we are told effect us and what they mean so that we dont just blindly follow. The critiques were fascinating to read, Bruno Bettlehiem's psychoanalytic perspective was very-thought provoking. A nice read to change our views on the stories you so loved as a child
Garrison Watts
Oct 05, 2016 Garrison Watts rated it it was amazing
This is a good collection of Fairy Tales that I had to read for my college 210 class. It was very enjoyable and kept me interested. First college book that I've enjoyed so far, maybe not the best just to read one after the other. This is an incredible reference for all types of fairy tales and a good book to keep around. It includes several different versions of the same tale type whether they're satirical, cultural or social changes to the original(or most well known) version.
Taylor Porter
Sep 11, 2015 Taylor Porter rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fairy-tales
I enjoyed this book because of the fact that it explains the reasons behind the fairytales. I love that the author added in different illustrations of the stories. The author did a great job explaining and connecting the fairytales to other ones, as well as giving a bit of history behind the stories. I loved this book and recommend it to others to read.
Feb 07, 2015 Dolly rated it it was amazing
The original fairy tales are always surprising and shocking. It's not always about the evil mother figure either, as I learned in Donkeyskin, a Cinderella story variant about a girl who had to escape her lustful father. Girls were a lot tougher before Disney came along. This book does a great job comparing all of the oldest tales and why certain versions became more popular.
Oct 20, 2016 Bookfan53 rated it really liked it
I was reading this book for an evening class. Various Fairy Tales from all over the world, before Disney sanitised them all for young children. Probably just as well too, definitely not for the faint-hearted nor for children. Everything from cannabilism , murder and devious dark deeds. The stories are very good though and well-written.
A very nice compilation of fairy tales. The introductions at the beginnings of each tale-type section were informative, and the criticisms at the end were interesting (if occasionally annoying in how much they read into fairy tales). It's not the most comprehensive book of fairy tales, but what it does have is diverse and well-oriented by introduction and criticism.
Naomi Begg
Jul 28, 2011 Naomi Begg rated it it was ok
Not easy reading! Its basically half really creepy fairy tales and half essays about them. Would only recommend if you like studying English, unless you were going to skip the introductions and just read the fairy tales. Although even then, it tends to be several versions of the same story and can get tedious.
Squeaky Skull
Dec 19, 2009 Squeaky Skull rated it it was amazing
This was one of many books that were assigned texts for other peoples classes, but that somehow ended up in my book bag. I sure hope someone didn't have to go without their book this semester - it was very interesting, full of different versions of classic fairy tales as well as an overview of critical analysis
Giovanni Ponciano
Jul 04, 2010 Giovanni Ponciano rated it liked it
I took a course on Fairy Tale Literature in college and this was a required book. Its an interesting read and contains many useful and insightful articles on the varying undertones and themes of many classic and beloved tales. Its useful and interesting if you have an interest in fairy tales but if not, you probably won't enjoy it.
Mar 30, 2012 Lazydaisy rated it it was amazing
This was such an interesting book no kidding! Never grew up knowing many classic fairytales but only through the Disney's characters because my parents are Hmong and so it was never shared. Although when I read it, the book reminded me very much of my own culture stories as well. Really neat! Two thumbs up!
Oct 05, 2012 Nada rated it it was amazing
This book is one of my best and it's because it lists all the old different versions of fairy tales. As I studied children's literature, I realized that the Disney version of ll the fairy tales is far from the real one.
I do recommend this book for any of you who want to know more about the real fairy tales.
Maria Tatar offers a great selection of well-known fairy tales as well as some versions that aren't nearly as popular. The modern stories are especially interesting to contrast with the older ones, and Tatar's commentary and background on each tale type is very helpful for scholarly study of the tales.
iele paloumpis
Dec 28, 2008 iele paloumpis rated it it was amazing
shows how fairy tales have been passed down, watered down, reinvented. so interesting to learn about how and why these stories have transformed (originating as racy stories of sex and violence shared among members of the peasant class to then be co-opted by the church and wealthy as didactic texts for small children).
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Fun and insightful 1 4 Oct 21, 2008 09:45AM  
  • The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm
  • Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales
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  • Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale
  • The Annotated Brothers Grimm
  • The Interpretation of Fairy Tales
  • Forbidden Journeys: Fairy Tales and Fantasies by Victorian Women Writers
  • Spinning Straw into Gold: What Fairy Tales Reveal About the Transformations in a Woman's Life
  • Black Heart, Ivory Bones
  • The Classic Fairy Tales
  • The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen
  • Favorite Folktales from Around the World (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
  • At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs, and Other Troublesome Things
Maria Tatar is the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures. She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University. She is the author of Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood, Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood and many other books on folklore and fairy stories. She is also the editor and translator of The Annotated Ha ...more
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