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The Classic Fairy Tales
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The Classic Fairy Tales

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  305 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
This volume contains twenty-four of the best known fairy tales in the English language, presented here in the exact words of their first English publication or of the earliest surviving text. Including "Sleeping Beauty," "Bluebeard," "Cinderella," "Thumbelina," and "Hansel and Gretel," as well as many others, this collection provides a historical introduction for each tale ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published November 13th 1980 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1974)
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Aside the short but instructive prefaces and notes by Iona Opie, this anthology doesn't have anything out of the ordinary to offer to the reader. It's more an introductory sort of collection, but it has really gorgeous artwork that makes it stand out amongst similar publications.

These illustrations are a varied mix of ink drawings, black and white charcoal-style drawings and full-colour paintings by many artists, which adds variety but also gives it a somewhat mixed-bag appearance. Some I had s
I've been wanting to read this for a while -- I especially like this part from the Introduction:

"Enchantment, in practice, is the opposite to the golden dream. The wonderful happens, the lover is recognized, the spell of misfortune is broken, when the situation that already exists is utterly accepted, when additional tasks or disappointments are boldly faced, when poverty is seen to be of no consequence, when unfairness is borne without indignation, when the loathsome is loved. Perhaps, after al
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Fairy tales are thus more realistic than they may appear at first sight; while the magic in them almost heightens the realism. The magic sets us wondering how we ourselves would react in similar circumstances. It encourages speculation. It gives a child license to wonder. And this is the merit of the tales, that by going beyond possibility they enlarge our daily horizon. For a man not given to speculation might as well walk on four legs as on two. A child who does not feel wonder is but an inle ...more
I'll never finish this (officially on Goodreads, anyway). I'll just take it down off the shelf now and then and read bits and pieces here and there in between novels.



My uncle had the coolest bedroom in the entire world. A magnificent bookshelf on one wall, MC Escher artwork and trippy posters of skulls on two others, with the third having a window overlooking a lovely San Francisco neighborhood. He even had an incense burner shaped like a reclined skelet
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the research. Didn’t enjoy the repetitive tales (of all the fairy tales in the world, why feature such similar ones). Re:fairy tales- why? They reinforce horrible stereotypes (pretty=good / ugly =bad etc) and submission of women and those marginalized. Oh, but I loved ‘Tom Thumb’ (literally laughed out loud) and hated ‘The Tinder Box’ (what a complete asshole - the soldier killing the witch/crone when she did nothing but give him riches , and everything else he did, yet he was the hero ...more
M.A. Nichols
Dec 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this based on a recommendation that it was a good book for authentic fairy tales. However, after cracking it open, I found that it only carries the original English text of each tale and as most are foreign, their English translations usually didn't come out until the stories had already been watered down a bit. Each chapter is opened with an explanation of the history and various translations, which I found to be the most interesting part of the book along with the authors' introduction ...more
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Since I gravitate towards books that retell fairytales, I thought that I would read the best source we have of the original fairytale versions. Iona and Peter Opie, a husband/wife team, are considered the best researchers/archivists of folk literature. In this book they have brought together the best-known fairy tales as they were first published in English. Before each story, they write a historical introduction that offers further insight to each story. Unexpectedly, this book is located in th ...more
Rachel Hope Crossman
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is one I discovered on the shelves of my local library, then purchased because I simply had to have it. The Opies have gathered the original printed version of 24 European fairy tales. Reading this book makes you realize that Walt Disney did not invent such classic characters as Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. In fact, the first time Cindy's story was printed, in the 1700s, her name was spelled Cinderilla. Archetypal stories here include Diamonds and Toads, Bluebeard, and The Story of t ...more
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
I read this for our let's talk about it group with the theme "Not just for Kids". It was somewhat interesting but the introduction was very difficult to get into and found that the fairy tales used were somewhat repetitious in nature. Due to snowy conditions we had to postpone our "Talk" and reschedule and I am hoping that will enlighten me some. I did not learn anything I did not already know except for how old these tales are.
Nov 26, 2007 rated it liked it
The cool, and annoying, thing about this collection is that each tale is given in its form of first publication. That means some old-timey English here and there, and god knows I rarely feel like putting forth that kind of effort. Beauty and the Beast was my fave of what I read. There must be more than this provincial life!
Beverly Kennett
I own this 1947 copy of the Fairy Tales and I read the version of Rumpelstitltskin in it. The story is very similar to other versions written in several Grimm's Fairy Tales books and would be good to use to introduce the story for any grade level. When the girl guesses his name, Rumplestiltskin pounds his foot into the ground, but then removes it and runs off. The end is not as violent as some other versions that might frighten young children.
Nov 16, 2008 rated it liked it
An interesting mini-survey of fairy tales throughout history. Although the stories' tradition is followed to faraway places in faraway times, the Opies unfortunately decide only to reprint the more well-known versions which most of us have undoubtedly already read. Extra points for not once veering into Freudian ridiculousness when discussing Red Riding-hood, et al.
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book described 24 well-known fairy tales and their place in folk-lore. It mainly concentrated on their history in Europe, but did mention some non-European versions of the stories. The book also contained the earliest known English text of the stories, some of which were quite different to the versions I heard in my childhood.
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s, stories
A stunning collection of the oldest versions the author could find of classics like "Little Red Riding Hood," "Goldilocks," and "Beauty and the Beast" (the version here is simply amazing). The best compilation of its kind that I've read.
Sarah Hannah
This is fab. I can't believe I've never heard of this couple before, because their collection, knowledge, and intro notes are superb and really do a great job of connecting various tales. This is an excellent resource that incorporates lots of history, various illustrators' takes on tales, and a vast understanding of the various (mostly European, plus Chinese) influences of fairy tales.
Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I can't tell you how much I adore this book, it will be with me for life. With each fairy tale, the Opies give a brief overview of the history of the tale and differences in various versions, followed by the earliest version of the tale in its entirety. It's a gruesome but enthralling read, no Disney-fied 'happily ever after' tales here!
Mrs Bond
Mar 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: folklore
from Introduction, page 11: 'The magic in the tales (if magic is what it is) lies in people and creatures being shown to be what they really are.' Retellings and some background on classic fairy tales, color illustrations scattered throughout. A great resource.
Mrs Bond
from Introduction, page 11: 'The magic in the tales (if magic is what it is) lies in people and creatures being shown to be what they really are.' Retellings and some background on classic fairy tales, color illustrations scattered throughout. A great resource.
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love fairy tales, but not in this context! Wow the originals are really different and its great that this book gives an intro to the tale so that you can have your mind set in the right century.
this book all the fairytale that together. these fairy tales are one that I grow up with as a kid, but they are write with their true endings.
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fairy-tales
fairy tales are not what they used to be and that is probably a very good thing -- some are quite disturbing
Caroline Gabel
Sep 29, 2015 rated it liked it
i enjoyed reading about the the history of fairy tales, but there was 35 pages missing in the middle
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, classics
This was a lot of fun to read.
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
The historical information before each story was quite interesting.
Anna Wickes
Jan 12, 2012 is currently reading it
So far a fun return to the why of the classic stories we all know.
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great collection of fairy tale classics!
Kenneth Roman
rated it really liked it
Aug 30, 2012
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Sep 23, 2011
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Jul 01, 2015
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Nov 25, 2014
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Iona Archibald Opie is a folklorist of children's literature and verse.