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The Classic Fairy Tales

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  2,822 ratings  ·  99 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 Hans Ch ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 17th 1998 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Mar 07, 2012 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.
Jan 15, 2013 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
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 tha
Mike Anastasia
Jul 20, 2014 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
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic-lit, we-own
I enjoyed this edition of Classic Fairy Tales. One's perspective expands when the different versions of the various tales are placed side by side for examination. It is also interesting to analyze and understand the history, folklore, and situations behind each tale.
May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, nonfiction
A great collection of some of the most common fairy tale types, each presented with several variations. A good intro to the rather diverse world of fairy tales, and includes a number of short but (mostly) interesting essays as well.
Mar 02, 2009 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 ind
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Many great fairy tales to read and I love how the stories were categorized!

Here are the fairy tales I read for my personal compilation (too many characters for private notes):

"Introduction": xi - xxvi
"The Frog King, or Iron Heinrich" (Germany): 55 - 58
"The Dog Bride" (India): 82 - 83
"Beauty and the Beast" (France) told by JeanMarie Leprince de Beaumont: 39 - 49
"The Tiger's Bride" by Angela Carter: 58 - 67
"Jack and the Beanstalk" (England) retold by Jospeh Jacobs:
I read the Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast sections as well as a selection of the criticisms of my first year english course and I loved every second of it.
Grape Blazeit
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Defo a Fave
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 Bea
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
Jason Furman
Aug 09, 2014 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
Alex Fairhill
May 25, 2015 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'r
Feb 27, 2009 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,
Amy Layton
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this for class, and honestly?  It was a delight.  There were so many different versions of tales in here--some very old, some very contemporary, some from Italy, China, all over the world.  She also includes critical texts from Zipes, Bettelheim, Gilbert & Gubar, and of course our good ol' Vladimir Propp.  

Altogether, this makes for a powerful and punchy anthology that's sure to help any fairy tale-lover along their way of learning and appreciating them.  As far as textboo
Jun 16, 2013 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, historic
Briana Saussy
Apr 03, 2010 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
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading all the variations of these classic fairy tales, particularly as there was some I wouldn't have thought to put together until reading them consecutively (Hansel & Gretel and Little Thumbling, for example). I also enjoyed the chance to re-read Hans Christian Andersen - and finding his stories more horrific, with their ecstasies of pain and death, than any of the supposedly more gruesome tales from the Grimms.

The collection of criticism at the end was interesting in t
Samantha Rodriguez
Jun 08, 2011 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
Amie Doughty
Apr 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: folktales
I taught this book in my Folktale Tradition class, and it was effective enough, though there are some things I prefer about the first edition (like the critical essays). I'm also a bit baffled by some of the story selections, particularly in the Andersen section. The trickster section needs work as well, as there is no clear definition of trickster offered and the tales are not all clearly trickster tales.
Garrison Watts
Oct 05, 2016 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.
Samuel Sanchinel
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
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
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
It was a good, new look at some of the fairy tales I was told growing up. The way the stories were arranged was well-done as stories of the same type from different cultures were grouped together giving another prespective. Though I think I really enjoyed the essay at the end as they were even more insightful and very worth, at the very least, a skimming through.
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.
the 2016 update to the 1999 Norton edition is invaluable, as it now includes and addressses what has happened with fairy tales in popualr imagination and popular culture since 2010, with the countless revisitionst fairy tale films, fairy tale TV shows, etc. The criticism sections and fairy tale samples also feel helpfully updated. Glad Maria Tatar was able to refresh this collection.
Feb 07, 2015 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.
Taylor Porter
Sep 11, 2015 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.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The great Maria Tatar does not disappoint. This collection includes both well-known and seldom anthologized lesser known variants of numerous fairytales, with insightful and thought-provoking introductins. She also includes several critical essays that provide historical and critical context. Great resource for anyone interested in fairy tales and their critical study.
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.
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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 Hans Christian Andersen, ...more