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Fairy Tales: A New History (Excelsior Editions) [Paperback]

Ruth B. Bottigheimer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

26 Mar 2009 1438425244 978-1438425245
Overturns traditional views of the origins of fairy tales and documents their actual origins and transmission.

Where did Cinderella come from? Puss in Boots? Rapunzel? The origins of fairy tales are looked at in a new way in these highly engaging pages. Conventional wisdom holds that fairy tales originated in the oral traditions of peasants and were recorded for posterity by the Brothers Grimm during the nineteenth century. Ruth B. Bottigheimer overturns this view in a lively account of the origins of these well-loved stories. Charles Perrault created Cinderella and her fairy godmother, but no countrywoman whispered this tale into Perrault’s ear. Instead, his Cinderella appeared only after he had edited it from the book of often amoral tales published by Giambattista Basile in Naples. Distinguishing fairy tales from folktales and showing the influence of the medieval romance on them, Bottigheimer documents how fairy tales originated as urban writing for urban readers and listeners. Working backward from the Grimms to the earliest known sixteenth-century fairy tales of the Italian Renaissance, Bottigheimer argues for a book-based history of fairy tales. The first new approach to fairy tale history in decades, this book answers questions about where fairy tales came from and how they spread, illuminating a narrative process long veiled by surmise and assumption.

“Bottingheimer’s work is as always provocative and interesting.” — Journal of American Folklore

“The genius of this slender volume is not so much that it provides a totally ‘new history,’ but rather that it presents not only Bottigheimer’s research but also that of John Ellis, Heinz Rölleke, Nancy Canepa, and many others in cogent, persuasive, eminently readable prose … A fascinating study in intertextuality, this book includes a helpful list of the 77 tales discussed, categorized by the author.” — CHOICE

“Some scholars say that, whether or not one agrees with all of Bottigheimer’s conclusions, her work is a useful questioning of popularly held beliefs.” — Chronicle Review

“This book will forever change the way that scholars and readers view a genre—the literary fairy tale—that remains vital today.” — Suzanne Magnanini, author of Fairy-Tale Science: Monstrous Generation in the Tales of Straparola and Basile


Product details

  • Paperback: 162 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (26 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1438425244
  • ISBN-13: 978-1438425245
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 14.2 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,053,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ruth B. Bottigheimer teaches European fairy tales and British children’s literature at Stony Brook University, State University of New York. She is the coeditor (with Leela Prasad and Lalita Handoo) of Gender and Story in South India, also published by SUNY Press, and the author of several books, including Fairy Godfather: Straparola, Venice, and the Fairy Tale Tradition.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairy Tales Revisited 2 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Quite good and an interesting read to supply for further studies. If you need a new look on fairy tales, check this out.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars bizarre and self-important 8 Sep 2013
By David Lenander - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a book that makes some pretty extravagant claims about its own importance and its revolutionary approach to the history of fairy tales. Most of its assertions are not new, but more disturbingly, not documented or supported. Even where they seem fairly innocuous or making a point (about the origins of some tales in Italian tellings, or the importance of Italian retellings shaping the history) it doesn't really seem like assertions that were absent from earlier historians, such as Jack Zipes. But this book attacks him repeatedly without providing any evidence. I think she similarly treats Warner and Tatar, but the writer she apparently has missed is Graham Anderson, in FAIRY TALE IN THE ANCIENT WORLD, which totally undermines most of her assertions. Having said that, I wasn't totally sorry to have read this, and some of it was interesting in questioning some common assumptions about orality and written stories, and reminded me of the importance of some of the points perhaps insufficiently discussed in some other writers, but even in these cases, I kept expecting her to lay out some of the reasons for some assertions that seemed uncontroversial, and that never came. Disappointing.
5.0 out of 5 stars L. Mark Taylor (Kingston, Jamaica) 10 Jun 2014
By L. Mark Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a wonderful book and unlike the first reviewer I enjoyed it tremendously. The points made are factual and supported by scholarship. Indeed, most writers on fairy and folk tales (including Maria Tatar and Jack Zipes) agree with the points she makes all the way up to the final conclusion, which is that they were not oral tales initially, but written ones which got passed on in a number of ways. This is a point which is really almost unprovable, as many have echoes going back to ancient antiquity, and in written form.
I am a layman who has enjoyed the tales in many forms since childhood, many decades ago, and now enjoy the writings of the experts, - the Opies, Bettelheim, Tatar, Zipes, and now Bottigheimer on the question of origins and meanings and find them all interesting.
Should other readers share this sense of wonder I entreat you to purchase this book, read it, and leave yourself open to further discovery. It does no harm whatsoever to the tales themselves and only proves how creative mankind is and how flexible and magical these tales really are.
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