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The Interpretation of Fairy Tales

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  958 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Of the various types of mythological literature, fairy tales are the simplest and purest expressions of the collective unconscious and thus offer the clearest understanding of the basic patterns of the human psyche. Every people or nation has its own way of experiencing this psychic reality, and so a study of the world's fairy tales yields a wealth of insights into the arc ...more
Paperback, Revised Edition, 208 pages
Published July 9th 1996 by Shambhala (first published 1970)
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Felicity
Jul 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fabulists and other folklore enthusiasts
Von Franz was apparently Jung's chief disciple, and her work on fairy tales and folklore was central to her continuation of his work. This volume is, mostly, more centered on the act of interpreting than on the big Jungian worldview, and thus is interesting even if you don't entirely buy into Jungianism. It discusses the importance of tale-telling and fairy tales and demonstrates Jungian folklore analysis by dissecting individual tales in depth.

I enjoyed the way von Franz uses multiple versions
...more
Ed
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fairy-tales
I have collected fairy tales for many years. If I had to rate the #1 person who has provided the most insight into these tales it is Marie-Louise Von Franz. These books, and there are a number of them, are fabulously insightful. Each one is hard to put down. I am sad that she has passed on and there will be no more.
Bridgett
May 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A great book applying Jungian psychology and the ideas of the Self/ego/anima/animus/shadow to fairy tales.
Valentina Markasović
It's a bit suspicious that everything is a symbol of the Self, but okay ...more
Damien Brunetto
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Honestly, I was not tremendously impressed with this book. I am very interested in the interpretation of fairy tales and mythologies and I think that there is something valuable to learn in doing so. But I am not convinced that this book will really help anyone. All the evidence that von Franz provides is very circumstantial and not particularly well backed up. She often says that such and such part of the fairy tale obviously means this or that and expects you to just accept that it is clear an ...more
Katherine Sas
An interesting and useful introduction to the Jungian analysis of fairy tales.
John Kulm
Jul 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing


Marie Louise von Franz is my favorite Jungian author, and I’m finding she’s particularly popular with writers and artists. Here are some quotes from the book:

“All fairy tales endeavor to describe one and the same psychic fact, but a fact so complex and far-reaching and so difficult for us to realize in all its different aspects that hundreds of tales and thousands of repetitions with a musician’s variations are needed until this unknown fact is delivered into consciousness; and even then the th
...more
James
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
As I read, I am considering the implicate order and the explicate order from the work of the a theoretical physicist David Bohm. What I have in mind is the Appendix 'The enfolding-unfolding universe and consciousness' in Wholeness and the Implicate Order, by David Bohm. Perhaps the collective unconscious (archetypes, symbols) and collective conscious (stories, individuation) are constituents of the implicate and explicate order.

I gather from Marie-Louise von Franze that the grizzly bear in my d
...more
Qing Wang
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book clearly shows me that my prejudices were a result of my own ignorance.

On the other hand, while this book certainly helps a lot when it comes to European fairy tales, it invites the question of to what extent the same principle could apply to other culture. There are some common symbols, maybe from the collective unconscious, more from the pagan side. In China we do not have the problem brought by Enlightenment, though certainly there are some other issues. maybe need to explore more ab
...more
Ashwin
Jun 12, 2021 added it
Fairy tales are not concerned with human and personal factors but with the development of the archetypes; they show the ways in which the archetypes are related to one another within the collective unconscious. The heroes or heroines of fairy tales are abstractions. Therefore, their fates are not neurotic complications, but rather are expressions of the difficulties and dangers given to us by nature.

In the unconscious, all the archetypes are entangled with one another. Adolf Bastian, the 19th ce
...more
Daniel Lieberman
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Marie-Louise von Franz was a Jungian scholar, and this book seems like it was written for her peers who had the same in-depth knowledge of Jung's writings. It's fascinating material, and worth the read if your wiling to spend a significant amount of time on Wikipedia reading about things like Anima and Shadow. Probably a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

This book is the indirect inspiration for a number of films. Among the best examples are Star Wars and the Lion King. The Hero’s Journey is
...more
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
I’ve been a big fan of the works of Marie-Louise Von Franz ever since I read The Feminine in Fairy Tales. In The Interpretation of Fairy Tales, Von Franz does what she does best: she performs a Jungian interpretation of fairy tales. Von Franz deconstructs the tales by delving deeper and deeper into the significance of each character, object, and event. She compares and contrasts different versions of the same tale to offer a more expansive interpretation. Her discussion provides insights into hu ...more
McKenzie Richardson
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A fascinating look into the Jungian analysis of fairy tales.

This book is based on a series of lectures given at the C. G. Jung Institute. It is not meant to be a complete interpretation of global fairy tales (the original title was actually An Introduction to the Interpretation of Fairy Tales ). Rather it is a resource that helps teach ways to apply Jungian analysis to fairy tales, complete with explanation through examples. The author is clear
...more
Ruben Gorseman-Mes
Another great book about the depth-psychological meaning of fairy tales, as authored by fairy tale authority Marie-Louise von Franz.

I find this book a great introduction to the topic, with a great deal of depth and nuance to be gleaned from her.

Even though the sentences sometimes didn't make a lot of sense until I read them again and imagined how she would say it in German, she dropped a lot of gems that highlight the working of the Animus and Anima, as well as the ever-present symbolism of the
...more
robyn
Feb 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: fairytales
To be frank, I'm just not smart enough for this book. I don't know anything about analysis, and what brought me to it is an interest in fairy tales. I will need to read and re-read and probably supplement my reading to ever get what was intended, out of this book.

But even so some of it still resonated for me. Like, 'there are moments of imminent danger when one must not think or feel or try to escape by struggling but must go down into an animal simplicity.' Or, 'generally the anima tends to man
...more
Riju Ganguly
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book is considered to be one of the most important works in the study and interpretation of fairy tales. Unfortunately, the book turned out to be completely useless, as far as my needs were concerned.
What were those needs or requirements?
I was trying to understand how the history and psyche of the people gets retained through fairy tales, even if they are not exactly favoured by the rulers or the clergy.
What did I get?
Jungian analysis of European fairy tales, which were almost entirely occu
...more
Chin-chin Wu
Feb 11, 2021 rated it liked it
This was my first book by Marie-Louise Von Franz. It is actually a series of lectures that she gave in English at the C.G. Jung Institute in Geneva.

Instead of being an encyclopedia of fairy tale symbols, Von Franz goes very deep into two European fairy tales, and attempts to exhaust every possible symbolism within the archetypes. In the process, she really leaves absolutely no stones unturned: number, gender, animal symbology, animus and anima, the Mother Archetype, the Shadow, are all "amplifie
...more
Anna
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I decided to stop at 72% because the last (big) chapter really didn't work for me and I was lowering my impression of the book by the page. So, ignoring that part....

First, the title is very inaccurate. This isn't a compilation of lots of fairy tales and their interpretations. This is a book about interpreting fairy tales (mostly one example fairy tale) using a Jungian framework.

Despite that, you can read around the edges and find lots of thought-provoking takeaways even if you're not into Jungi
...more
Daniel Wolpin
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Von Franz inspires the reader to dig so much deeper into the world of fairy tales and at the same time self-discovery in relation to the collective unconscious, shadow, anima and animus. The ideas and analysis are well thought out but at the same time hold a feeling of spontaneity. It is a short, somewhat easy but profound read and highly recommended to anyone interested in Jungian psychology and ancient fairy tales. The subject matter, although steeped in the past feels vibrant, vital and timel ...more
John Fredrickson
Jul 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I think the intended reader for this book would be a Jungian analyst, or at least someone quite well versed in the theories of archetypes, the anima, animus and shadows. I am not. The book explores a few fairy tales in some depth, and is followed by a more general discussion of the anima, animus and shadow.

The beginning sections made some sense to me, but by the end of the book, the material being discussed was very difficult to follow. Much of it seems interpreted at such a high level, without
...more
Richard
Nov 05, 2018 marked it as to-read
Found this a bit of a 'tuff read'...although, von Franz makes an excellent case that 'fairy tales/myths' seem 'foolish to the intellect'...but, if 'engaged' at the 'emotional' level...it's a 'another story'. Have shelved for another time...

"To the intellect, all my mythologizing is futile speculation. To the emotions, however, it is a healing and valid activity; it gives existence a glamour which we would not like to do without. Nor is there any good reason why we should." ~ CG Jung
...more
Tim Capps
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Piercing Insights Into the Anima

The writing style is clear and sometimes humorous. Through a small selection of fairy tales light is shed on the personal psyche. For me, the treatment of the anima was the best I have found so far. It may be impossible to completely explain the anima, because I was left with many questions. However, I found many answers, or perhaps insights on a subject that may defy clear explanation for the lay person.
Maan Kawas
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent book by Marie-Louise von Franz about the interpretation of the fairy tales using the Jungian approach. She applies the Principles of the Jungian approach to some fairy tales, demonstrating how to spot and understand the implicit key archetypes, such as the shadow, anima, animus, even the symbolism of numbers. The language is readable and clear! I highly recommend it!!
Shiz
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic-reading
Oh my god. I have no words. This book is hard, perhaps on par with Freud's writing when it comes to how difficult it is to follow. But, oh my god, I have learnt so much and I will revisit it s many times. ...more
Arthur Gailes
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Some really interesting fundamentals, and it's a quick, breezy read. Nonetheless, I found it a bit narrow - it focuses on a few fairy tale examples to demonstrate von Franz's method of deconstructing fairy tales, but it's difficult to generalize from such a limited (and male-focus) set of examples. ...more
Elly
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Von Franz is proving to be a lot more useful than Bettelheim, probably because Bettelheim's theories are built on Freud while von Franz is of the Jungian school. ...more
Elissa Davis
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful and brilliant explication of fairy tales, from the Jungian perspective.
Karolien
I have read this book for my master thesis and I think it is a perfect psychological interpretation for most fairy tales.
Sarah Koz
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mephistopheles
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scholarly
This is amazing – very clearly thought out and articulated, with profound insights. Very complex ideas are expressed in simple language.
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Marie-Louise von Franz was a Swiss Jungian psychologist and scholar.
Von Franz worked with Carl Jung, whom she met in 1933 and knew until his death in 1961. Jung believed in the unity of the psychological and material worlds, i.e., they are one and the same, just different manifestations. He also believed that this concept of the unus mundus could be investigated through research on the archetypes
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34 likes · 8 comments
“Jung said that to be in a situation where there is no way out or to be in a conflict where there is no solution is the classical beginning of the process of individuation. It is meant to be a situation without solution; the unconscious wants the hopeless conflict in order to put ego consciousness up against the wall, so that the man has to realize that whatever he does is wrong, whichever way he decides will be wrong. This is meant to knock out the superiority of the ego, which always acts from the illusion that it has the responsibility of decision. . . If he is ethical enough to suffer to the core of his personality, then generally, because of the insolubility of the conscious situation, the Self manifests. In religious language you could say that the situation without issue is meant to force the man to rely on an act of God.” 16 likes
“Jung has said that to be in a situation where there is no way out, or to be in a conflict where there is no solution, is the classical beginning of the process of individuation. It is meant to be a situation without solution: the unconscious wants the hopeless conflict in order to put ego-consciousness up against the wall, so that the man has to realise that whatever he does is wrong, whichever way he decides will be wrong. This is meant to knock out the superiority of the ego, which always acts from the illusion that it has the responsibility of decision. Naturally, if a man says, "Oh well, then I shall just let everything go and make no decision, but just protract and wriggle out of [it]," the whole thing is equally wrong, for then naturally nothing happens. But if he is ethical enough to suffer to the core of his personality, then generally because of the insolubility of the conscious situation, the Self manifests. In religious language you could say that the situation without issue is meant to force the man to rely on an act of God. In psychological language the situation without issue, which the anima arranges with great skill in a man's life, is meant to drive him into a condition in which he is capable of experiencing the Self. When thinking of the anima as the soul guide, we are apt to think of Beatrice leading Dante up to Paradise, but we should not forget that he experienced that only after he had gone through Hell. Normally, the anima does not take a man by the hand and lead him right up to Paradise; she puts him first into a hot cauldron where he is nicely roasted for a while.” 9 likes
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