Marina Warner's From the Beast to the Blonde
was a fascinating feminist meditation on fairy stories and the men and women who tell them; it was both scholarly and a work of creation which changed the way we read.
The attractively illustrated No Go the Bogeyman extends its argument to children. Sometimes fairy stories were meant to scare children into virtue and sometimes to teach them cold-hearted calculation of the moral odds, and sometimes just to soothe them or make them laugh. Fear of the dark is important here--the darkness has always been where adult terrors lurked as well, and Warner is good on the fear of the peasant pagan "other" that underlies many tales. Much fear and much comedy comes from taboos. Children's rhymes and tales often deal in cannibalism and in decay, both to exorcise dread and because children find them genuinely funny. Lullabies soothe partly because of their refrains-- something which comes around reliably is always going to console. In a final, tangential chapter, bananas are at once phallic and tasty, funny, luxurious and grotesque. This is a book full of intelligence and quirky ideas; an important piece of cultural investigation. --Roz Kaveney
"She is a terrific writer and an original scholar" (Daily Telegraph
"A distinguished biographer of myths and archaeologist of ideas" (Guardian
"Just like the tale-tellers she celebrates... she's a weaver of enchantments, each sentence a silken knot charming you further into her web of meanings" (Independent on Sunday