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Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales

(Virago Fairy Tales #1-2)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  3,601 ratings  ·  182 reviews
Once upon a time fairy tales weren't meant just for children, and neither is Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales. This collection contains lyrical tales, bloody tales and hilariously funny and ripely bawdy stories from countries all around the world - from the Arctic to Asia - and no dippy princesses or soppy fairies. Instead, we have pretty maids and old crones; crafty wo ...more
Hardcover, 486 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Virago (first published 1992)
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 ·  3,601 ratings  ·  182 reviews

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Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read this one for the Cardiff SFF Book Club. I’m not the biggest fan of Angela Carter, having read a couple of her books back during my BA, but I do love fairy tales, so I was ready to give it a go anyway. Turns out, it isn’t a book of fairy tales by Angela Carter (which to be fair, having read The Bloody Chamber, wouldn’t be unexpected), but edited by her. She wrote a fairly scholarly introduction to it, acknowledging colonial bias, etc, etc, and commenting on the content. I’m… probably going t ...more
Jan 24, 2014 rated it liked it
"There was woman who was old, blind and likewise unable to walk. Once she asked her daughter for a drink of water. The daughter was so bored with her old mother that she gave her a bowl of her own piss. The old woman drank it all up, then said: 'You're a nice one, daughter. Tell me - which would you prefer as a lover, a louse or a sea scorpion?'
'Oh, a sea scorpion,' laughed the daughter, 'because he would not be crushed so easily when I slept with him.'
Whereupon the old woman proceeded to pull
Kim Kaso
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book years back, before the recent craze for fairy tales began, and remember thinking that it was true to the original form, fairy tales were never intended to be a bedtime story, unless we parents meant our children to have horrible nightmares. At that time, Angela Carter and Tanith Lee were pioneering this reimagining which both harkened back to the originals and brought them into the modern age. Then Terry Windling & Ellen Datlow brought out their wonderful anthologies, and Charle ...more
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was bizarre. Grotesque, even. But it was also extremely interesting and captivating. With her carefully selected tales, Carter took me on a journey all over the world. I journeyed from Iceland to Egypt, from Norway to Peru within a few pages. So many cultures are represented and united in this gorgeous book - and only a few tales were known to me beforehand.

All of the tales center around women, and the stories are organized into little sections, such as 'Clever Women', 'Mothers and Daughte
A collection of folklore from around the world, tales of wise women, crafty witches and resourceful maidens… the woman-centric theme doesn’t intrude, just makes it a more cohesive collection than most fable anthologies. There’s an all-too-short yet interesting forward by Carter, and the woodcut illustrations are a lovely accompaniment.

Considering that I’ve been meaning to read something of the work of Angela Carter for a long time, I’m a bit nonplussed to find myself starting with a book she com
Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
Short stories really aren't my thing. I find it really hard to repeatedly get invested in stories and I can't hold my focus. That is probably why it has taken me 2 months to read this!
Jul 29, 2007 rated it liked it
First of all, I am not sure what's the genre of this book. Fiction? The tales may be true to some people. Horror? I certainly think so given that some of the fairy tales are horrifying. Fantasy? Perhaps.

The book is edited by Angela Carter and illustrated, darkly, by Corinna Sargood. But it is the beautiful cover and the classic bound that attracted me to it at Kinokuniya Jakarta. This is one of the rare hardcovers that I buy willingly because of its looks.

This edition is a compilation of two of
I read the first half of this book prior to buying this edition. This is actually Volumne 1 and Volumne 2 of Carter's Virago Fairy Tales.

What makes the collection good is that the fairy tales, or folk tales, range widely. Carter does have some well known tales here, such as "Little Red Riding Hood" but she collections lesser well known ones, including a heavy does of tales from non-European countries.

While I am not sure if I would use the word feminist to describe the collection, the tales are m
Hannah Young
Aug 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults
Packed with grotesque fairy tales from every period and culture imagineable, this beautiful book with somewhat sinister illustrations is perfect for anyone wanting to engage with their 'inner child' with a more mature twist.

It's not really bedtime-story material though...
Thomas Edmund
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
In her Book of Fairy Tales, Carter has attempted what the Bro's Grimm did many a generation ago, and compile a compendium of folk and fairy tales from across a variety of cultures and countries. Ranging from Inuit to Hillbilly Carter doesn't edit, tone-down or Hollywoodise anything (the Inuit tales stand out as the most strange)

In confession I must disclose that for me the tales ranged from, 'I can't follow this' to 'I'm following this but WTF?' to 'GREAT'

Essentially this is an awesome book, but
Ova - Excuse My Reading
These stories are not written by Carter herself, but they are a selection she's brought together and edited. I think this is a good book to keep close to bed, in case you don't really feel like reading anything too long or engaging. The stories are mostly very short, and there are disturbing ones as well as traditional ones. I liked the fact that the selection is quite wide, almost everywhere in the world.
I liked it, but I probably wouldn't have picked this if it didn't have Carter's name on it
Bianca Mogos
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well, this took a while.
Some of the fairytales are great, some are local versions of well known fairytales and some are plainly and simply strange.
I’ll definitely go back to it from time to time and pick a fairytale at random.
P.s. don’t read Inuit fairytales to your kids.
Laura Fudge
May 09, 2011 rated it liked it
I normally love short stories, and fairy tales, but I struggled a little with this one. The book is a collection of stories from all over the world, all of which based around a female character. The stories are grouped into the following:

Brave, Bold and Wilful
Clever Women, Resourceful Girls and Desperate Stratagems
Good Girls and Where it Gets Them
Unhappy Families
Moral Tales
Strong Minds and Low Cunning
Up to Something – Black Arts and Dirty Tricks
Beautiful People
Mothers an
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would be Bizarre. This is not the sort of fairy tale book you would pick up to read your children a bed time story. Not unless you think stories where animals are coming out of old ladies virginas are appropriate. Some of these stories are familiar. Bits of them remind you of fairy tales you know and love, Cinderella and Snow White are in here but not as you know them. Some are just plain weird. There seems to be alot of animal/human relationships. An ...more
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When Angela Carter collects fairy tales from around the world you know they're going to be awesome. Ok, so I haven't read every tale in it yet but I have come across some amazing fairy tales in this collection that had me and my mate in stitches. 'Reason to beat your wife' has a terrific ending with a woman getting one up on her (let's face it) prick of a husband. Angela Carter's introduction is definitely worth a read and I look forward to reading the rest of the stories in the book
Also, the co
Angie Rhodes
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who,sometimes want's the "bad guy/girl" to win
Shelves: owned
Dark, dark, tales, these are not your Disney Faerie tales, these The Brothers Grimm would be proud of. Some tales are short, no more than a half or a full page, others are novella's . Each one is well written, some make you shudder, others will make you laugh. Filled with beautiful drawings, and a ribbon, for marking your page, this is a book to keep, and savour , which is why it took me ages to read it, I didn't want it to end,
Mia Krone
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
It took me a while to get through this one, but wasn't because I dind't like. I did, I actually liked it a lot.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook, folklore
It's hard to know how to review collections like this because in my mind they are as much data as they are entertainment. Every time I read one I get wistful for the day when we will have proper phylogenetic trees to give these stories context. You would expect a collection like this to have a certain amount of filtering or bias, and they definitely do. The premise of this one is that all these random folk stories are in some way about girls. But that still leaves a pretty huge selection, and yo ...more
Leah Rachel von Essen
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales is simply wondrous. I originally picked this up in the UK in 2017. It’s an incredible compendium of fairy tales that Angela Carter gathered from around the world. They aren’t all, naturally, feminist on an individual level. But simply the existence of a intensely diverse and global collection that features solely fairy tales focused around women—whether they be wicked, naive, strong, cunning, or magical—makes each tale resonate in its own feminist context of f ...more
Nara Monteiro
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lessons I’ve learned from Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales:

1. Follow instructions. To the letter.
2. If you want to marry a prince, you need to be one of four things: a) pretty, b) smart, c) pretty and smart, or d) grown from a plant.
3. Stepmothers are not to be trusted.
4. DIY make-your-own boyfriend: rub blubber on your genitals until it comes to life. Will not be a prince, just a regular issue boyfriend. May melt.
5. Every culture in the world knows keeping promises is good and breaking them
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
When starting this book, I thought these were fairy tales written by Angela Carter but it turns out that Angela Carter is the collector and the editor of the book. It is a treasure, to keep in your nightstand when the sleep escapes you and you want to try to fall asleep. They are far from the Disney-like stories I grew up reading. They are wacky, gruesome stories that make you disgusted and laugh aloud. The stories are from all around the world which makes it even greater. True, reading this bac ...more
Harry McDonald
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
It must be... maybe 10 years since I last read any of these? My old copies are long gone. But what a contribution, what a point to make when you know - as Carter did - that she had not long left: the greatest contribution to literature has always been made by the illiterate, oral storytelling will outlast everything else, and imagination trumps reality every time.
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
While I'm not the biggest fan of fairytales, I'll give anything Angela Carter did a go. So all in all, I think this was a really well put together collection with a very diverse bunch of stories. It's such a beautiful book too—it would make an amazing present!
Larissa Schortinghuis
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed these tales. My absolute favourite is by far "The Recourseful Wife." It made me laugh out loud. I will revisit this many times.
Inuit fairy tales are bonkers.
Paula Kalamaras
A masterful and feminist retelling of fairytales from around the world
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it
I hated the introduction I almost hadn't read it. the book was nice and funny though.
Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This may be a collection of folk tales from around the world, documented as accurately as possible by Carter, but it still reads like a Carter book through and through. Maybe it's because she was influenced strongly by folklore and carried its vibe into her own writing, or could it be that Carter was unable to resist selecting tales that reflected her own world - I think both.

The stories themselves have a wonderful quality that you only find in folklore. There's little in the way of devices and
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: meh, fantasy
Wow, it's amazing how tiresome and repetitious fairy tales become when they're shifted slightly in geography and not at all in plot. And how little they feature fairies. Other things I learned: African fairy tales are all about lions - you'd think there were no other animals on the continent - and Inuits are kinky motherfuckers. All I knew about them before was that they had 5,607 words for snow, something a lot of romantic stories bring up like it's at all relevant.

The final thing I learned was
Mathijs Beaujean
Oct 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: put-on-hold
Not sure if I should leave this on the 'currently reading' shelf. Reading it grinded to a halt weeks ago.

What keeps me from reading this book is the following:
The jumping about, from culture to culture, of the stories in sequence is really annoying. It's hard enough for someone to get into a story, written by a culture who don't seem to have chronology, subject or even logic dictate a story. But it makes it even harder that the next or preceding story is from a totally different culture, with a
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Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled anorexia. She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature.

She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter. Th

Other books in the series

Virago Fairy Tales (3 books)
  • The Virago Book of Fairy Tales
  • The Second Virago Book of Fairy Tales

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