45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
No matter what your age, dear reader, I can confidently say that we have all grown up reading the timeless tales recorded by the Brothers Grimm. The youngest generations will at the very least have seen the Disney versions! From the Grimm's 200 or so stories, Pullman has selected & rewritten his favourite 50. These range from the famous (Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood...
Published 17 months ago by Sam Woodward
100 of 114 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine, but who is this book for?
Pullman's versions of some of the Grimms' folk stories are well enough written and his little summaries at the end of each tale give a bit of background to where each story originated and the different versions that have been told in the past. But from the moment I received the book and discovered that, to my amazement, there are no illustrations, I couldn't help but...
Published 17 months ago by FictionFan
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100 of 114 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine, but who is this book for?,
Pullman's versions of some of the Grimms' folk stories are well enough written and his little summaries at the end of each tale give a bit of background to where each story originated and the different versions that have been told in the past. But from the moment I received the book and discovered that, to my amazement, there are no illustrations, I couldn't help but wonder - who exactly is this book for?
Pullman has updated the language but not the stories so we have dreadful clashes like princesses in castles talking about weapons of mass destruction or giants saying 'Respect!'. This kind of pantomime humour made me think the books must be aimed at a young audience but then where are those missing illustrations? I also couldn't help feeling that with language like this Pullman's versions will date much more quickly than those I read in my childhood. On the other hand Pullman has deliberately gone back to the unbowdlerised versions of many of the stories and I'm not sure that I'd be happy to be reading some of these to my (mythical) young children. Rapunzel getting pregnant without really understanding what was happening to her? Houses described as being as filthy as 'pisspots'? Must be for a teenage or adult audience then? But if so, what do these versions add to the ones we all read when we were young? For me, the answer to that question was nothing much, I'm afraid.
In the end I came to the conclusion that the book is in fact aimed at a very specific target audience - Pullman fans. I doubt this will gain him many new ones, nor is it intriguing or different enough to draw in many fans of folk tales. Not a bad book, but I suspect many people who are delighted to see this in their Christmas stocking will be feeling a little deflated by Boxing Day.
45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful,
No matter what your age, dear reader, I can confidently say that we have all grown up reading the timeless tales recorded by the Brothers Grimm. The youngest generations will at the very least have seen the Disney versions! From the Grimm's 200 or so stories, Pullman has selected & rewritten his favourite 50. These range from the famous (Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood & well, you know the ones) to the obscure (anyone come across 'The Donkey Cabbage' before?). Prior to reading, I was concerned that Pullman would attempt to rework these tales for the modern audience - Cinderella pouring frappucinos for her 'facially challenged' sisters, perhaps. Thankfully, this is not the case & they remain stylistically & spiritually faithful to the originals. In the introduction, Pullman says that these stories will inevitably be told in different ways over different generations - a point which comparing Disney's 1937 Snow White to the bleaker Snow White and the Huntsman released in 2012 clearly illustrates. But for him, the Grimm's versions are already delightfully perfect in both structure & content, as their clutter-free simplicity is at the heart of their charm. It is because the prince is brave with no further explanation & the witch wicked without any complex analysis of her presumably dysfunctional childhood, that there is plenty of scope for the narrator to add their own spin, whether that narrator is Disney trying to add visual magic or a parent wanting to make the story more humourous or more scary for their children.
Pullman's faithfulness to the early Grimm versions results in some surprises. The Frog Prince, for example, is apparently the Frog King & once he returns to human form, there is an epilogue concerning his most loyal servant. The early version of Rapunzel is also somewhat more grisly than modern retellings may be, although in fairness the Ladybird version I read as a child was similar in content to Pullman's & I was not at all traumatised by the experience at the time. After all, let's face it, little boys like a bit of gore. But as opinions differ as to what is 'acceptable' these days, I would recommend introducing these tales to children in the way Pullman says is how they were intended - by reading them out loud. That way, you can quickly edit them if desired, while also enjoying the stories yourself. For the adult reader, there is also an erudite introduction on the history of these tales & Pullman's views on fairytales, as well as notes accompanying each story.
This is a beautifully made hardback with sewn binding & a gorgeous picture on the dust cover. Unfortunately this is the only picture included. Inside the cover is naught but white pages & black text but the most beautiful pictures are the ones painted by our imaginations - and these tales are feats of imagination. Also, pictures would arguably be at odds with the introduction & notes, which are clearly intended for adult readers. Either way, its solid cover is bound to withstand generations of reading, while its charming contents are bound to ensure that future generations will want to read it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Once Upon A Time ....",
As a respected author of fantastical fictions himself (if you haven't read
the wonderful "His Dark Materials" trilogy get thee to a bookshop forthwith!)
Philip Pullman is especially well-equipt to curate a collection of Grimm's
tales. In his introduction he tells us that he "wanted to produce a version
that was as clear as water" uncluttered by "modern setings...personal
interpretations...or poetic variations on the originals". Job done. This is
probably the finest re-telling of these timeless and magical stories imaginable.
Mr Pullman has chosen well. From the familiar to the less-well-known, he has
given a beautifully clear voice to fifty of them, in lucid prose which bounces
off the page with an energy and freshness absent from many other editions I
have encountered. Their structure remains intact but their new-found clarity
is as absorbing as it is enthralling. A great story-teller if ever there was!
From the pure enchantment of 'Snow White'; through the cruel entanglements
of 'Hansel and Gretel' and dark machinations of 'Godfather Death' to the
almost musical symmetries of 'The Juniper Tree' (Mr Pullman's favorite) we
are never less than captivated by the truly marvelous quality of his language
and masterful grasp of the essential components of each unfolding narrative.
The annotations and references are both informative and entertaining.
A splendid book for both young and old. Read aloud to anyone who will listen!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting commentary, but spoiled by some awkward updating,
For me the chief virtues of this book are the postscripts to each story and the excellent introduction by Philip Pullman in which he outlines the chief characteristics of fairy tales and reminds us that the stories are of a different order to those we commonly read: motivation of characters, for example, is not something to fret about. So, if a man who is undecided about marrying resolves the dilemma by filling a holed boot with water and if it doesn't leak he will marry, and if it does he won't (The Three Little Men in the Woods) we simply accept it.
Indeed that quality is part of the fairy tale's appeal. He also reminds us that the stories are not 'texts' as we normally understand them, but narratives transcribed: each telling would inevitably be slightly different from the previous one, and each teller would impart something of themselves to any given rendering: this, of course, legitimates any changes which a newer version uses. Here, he gives us his versions of 50 of them with a little, often very interesting, 'light touch' academic apparatus appended to each tale. These are full of fascinating insights which I suspect would remain hidden from the average reader (myself included). For example, he points out in the commentary on Rapunzel: how the parents' fate is completely ignored, despite their longing for a child for years and her sudden abduction by the witch - in a novel such loose ends would be intolerable but here entirely appropriate; how the Grimms later bowdlerised their version to remove any reference to Rapunzel's pregnancy, an approach he firmly rejects.
This is surely right and reminds us of the fact that such stories are not simply pretty, Disney-esque entertainments but resonant folk tales which can contain meanings of deep significance. But in the process of retaining these elements which make the stories much more interesting, he also adopts idioms which, for me, fracture the aura of strangeness which the tales inhabit and actually are not essential to retaining theunderlying meanings which I agree are so important. 'You're her fancy boy, are you? You worm her way into her tower, you worm your way into her affections, you worm your way into her bed, you rogue, you leech, you lounge-lizard, you high-born mongrel!' I can live happily with the phallic symbolism of 'worm', but much of the rest rather grates, pulling the timeless quality of the tales into a period which is not quite now (lounge-lizard?) but very specifically mid twentieth century, neither contemporary nor timeless. (There are plenty of other worse examples and some which are even harder to justify as anything other than as a sort of misplaced 'coolness': 'Pisspots', 'Respect', etc. A bit silly, in my view.) It's one thing to reinstate elements to enhance their timeless vigour, it's another to highlight them in day-glow pink!
I enjoyed the book largely for the editorial elements and being reminded of the wonderful stories collected by the Grimm Brothers. But its pleasures began to pall a little as the spurious 'street' continued to appear: it prompted me to buy the Vintage 'Complete Fairy Tales', at a lower price than this collection and, as its title suggests, complete: that collection fails to highlight the features Pullman so rightly emphasises, but retains the fairy tale strangeness without being Victorian or archaic, which I like. Neither collection quite hits the spot.
I am really pleased that Philip Pullman has reminded me of some of the more essential elements in these wonderful tales, but rather wish he had been a little more subtle in doing so.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read?,
I have no idea as to why Mr Pullman felt that this book needed to be written, nor whom it is intended for. One good thing that I can find to say, is that it includes many of the Grimms Tales of which I was unaware. In respect of those, I have no complaints.
It is indeed a well made and well presented book and would make a nice present for nostalgic adults.
I agree with other reviewers that the lack of illustrations is to be regretted. Whilst illustrations may not be necessary to assist adult readers understanding or his or her mind pictures, if adults wish to use this book and these stories as one more aid to the younger reader, then pictures may well encourage some of those self same young readers, whilst at the same time, not discouraging others.
I too was a little frustrated by Mr Pullmans efforts to update some of the language. In addition to the annoying word 'respect', I wondered at the expression 'lounge lizard'. Even a child, however in tune with modern vernacular, would need that explained. The only time that I heard this expression was in an episode of 'Hancocks Half Hour'.
I appreciate that for Mr Pullman, this was an intellectual exercise, which I doubt would have taken up much of his time, but still I cannot see its purpose. The original stories, which he has to be fair, left largely alone, really needed no re-interpretation. Nor am I sure that his personal notes add very much [certainly not to this reader], to the readers enjoyment or knowledge.
What it made me do is to search out my copy of Grimms Fairy Tales which I read many, many times in my very early years. The comparison will be interesting.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The weird and very wonderful world of clear faery,
I confess I've been a devotee of fairy tales all my life. Indeed, the first downloads on my Kindle were various of the Andrew Lang collections.
So, why would I need more - well, the excellent, clean clear voice of Philip Pullman, which would tell some of these stories, which as he points out, are not sacrosanct text, but various transcribed versions of different voices telling the tales across space and time. Inevitably, some voices are fussier than others, some elaborations over time spoil the clear lines of the plain unvarnished tale
So Pullman gives us HIS voice telling the tales. He respects them hugely, and does not try to impose interpretation or give a spin of his own, he is merely interested in paring back so that the clean lines, the satisfying alliterations, the repetitions of events a certain number of times that the narrative requires, may be fully appreciated.
There is a short, fascinating introduction about the tradition of these tales, and following each beautifully recounted story, satisfyingly perfect in its often repeated 'Once upon a time' to 'Happily Ever After' is a short account of the substrate of each tale, who the original teller was (if recorded) in the original Grimm's publication, and sometimes some information about later academic or literary interpretations of the tale.
As others have noted, the lack of pictures (GOOD! you have to paint your own internal pictures) may make this not so suitable for younger children, plus the fact that these are Grimms, not the more prettified and less horrific Perrault versions, again, may mean some little ones might get nightmares from the pecked out eyes, the chopped off feet (Cinderella, Grimms version)and all the rest. Mind you, as these were of course originally tales for children anyway I suspect it may be more adults thinking 'these are too strong and frightening for children' than those children themselves thinking that!
A beautifully presented book as well - one of those which reminds the reader of the pleasure of the weight and heft of a book, the smell and feel of its pages, the lovely red bookmark ribbon, the attractive dustjacket. One for the bookshelf, to be read again, cover to cover, in a few years
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Brothers Grimm,
The Grimm brothers produced their 'Children's and Household Tales' with the first edition in 1812, their last edition appearing in 1857. The stories that they gave us have then been enjoyed by us all, when we were children and again as adults, whether reading them ourselves, or to our children. Inspiring not just books but other types of media, such as films these tales will be with us for countless more centuries. But let us not forget, although in places the Grimm's may have made slight alterations, these tales go back much further than their first published book.
Through countless English versions Philip Pullman has now set his eyes on them and out of the two hundred plus tales has selected fifty of them. Giving us his versions in clear and precise English these are a pleasure to read. I already have The Complete Fairy Tales (Vintage Classics) and so I was in two minds about getting this. As a child my sister and I had a lovely edition of the better known tales with illustrations, whereas alas this has no illustrations at all, so I wouldn't think little children would be too interested in this, although they should like listening to the stories themselves.
What is good about this book though is Pullman's introduction, the bibliography, and the fact that at the end of every tale is a section with what classification the particular tale comes under, tales that are similar, who told the Grimm's the particular tales, and a brief piece about the text.
Admittedly with so many editions on the market this will just be another one vying for a place in the top ranks of them, but for me the notes, etc., has made this particular edition a joy to read especially with Pullman's writing. This lovely bound hardback edition also comes with an integral cloth bookmark, and I must admit that I love Cheong-ah Hwang's beautiful cover illustration. If you don't own any version of Grimm, then this may be ideal for you.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed,
This review is from: Grimm Tales: For Young and Old (Penguin Classics) (Kindle Edition)
[[I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review]]
Let's get this out first: I am a huge Philip Pullman fangirl. I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on his His Dark Materials trilogy. I also love fairy tales, in their original forms or as retellings. Basically I pretty much embody the target market when Philip Pullman releases a collection of fifty rewritten Grimms' fairy tales.
So why the two stars? It was nothing special. It pains me to say it. If it didn't say so on the cover, I wouldn't believe that Philip Pullman had had anything to do with this, let alone had written it. The stories are the same as you'd find in any old collection; there is none of Pullman's celebrated wit and verve. It's all very ordinary. If I had purchased the book, rather than had a galley given to me, I would be feeling seriously short-changed right about now.
The 50 stories are presented traditionally - short and sweet. After each one there is a short note discussing any narrative decisions Pullman has made, or what he thinks of the story in general. These little addendums were boring to read; Pullman lambasts any formal critique that academics have done on the folk and fairy tale genre (the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood symbolising a sexual predator, etc etc, I'm sure you're all familiar with the imagery) - but unfortunately, hearing about these little anthropological or psychological snippets was the most interesting thing about the whole experience.
One plus, it's awoken a resurgence in my interest in folklore and myth study - I haven't really dipped into it since my time doing Classics at uni. I'll be adding the book he so regularly quotes just to disparage - `From the Beast to the Blonde' - to my wish list.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous for older children and adults-not really suitable for younger children,
What this book lacks, and it's such a shame, are illustrations. Should be packed with colour to help bring out the stories and I think this is the first Grimm compilation I've owned without pictures which just seems odd. I thoroughly enjoyed Phillip Pullman's introduction to, and telling of, the tales. He's particularly informative and interesting though maybe a little bit dry.
There's such a wealth of history, morality and religion behind these tales. It's breathtaking how multi-dimensional they are and how we've lost sight of that, mostly because of Disney animation. These aren't the pretty, flowery, musical stories that we've come to expect. They're packed with themes of life and death, poverty, homelessness and disease, to name but a few, and often end without hope but; they're totally compelling and packed with magic in its every form.
This is an excellent compilation which includes 49 tales. The usual suspects such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel are nestling comfortably among the more obscure tales such as The Three Snake Leaves, Mount Simeli and Farmerkin. Easy to read, a pleasure to read, certainly one for my collection and one I'll hand over to my grandchildren when they're old enough.
I would say, I wasn't going to include this comment but it's on my mind, the title of this compilation "Grimm Tales for Young and Old" is misleading. It's not my place to preach but, in my opinion, there's no part of this book that's suitable for younger children. There are themes and strong language in here that are inappropriate and; they won't understand much of the content or have the reading ability to deal with it. This book has been written for adults and older children. I wouldn't read "Grimm Tales" to my grandkids, they'd be scared. Sorry, that's a bit of a rant, but it's a point worth making if you're not familiar with the Grimm tales and are planning on buying this book for younger children.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classical fairy tales told true to form,
as the title of the book says, both young and old will enjoy the retelling of these tales.
in true brothers Grimm style some of the stories are quite barbaric as they are old tales passed down from many generations and many countries, most having quite strong ethical or moral overtones and meanings.
they are re-told in a captivating format with short but concise explanatory notes as to their origins and meanings.
Robert Pullman manages to draw on all the well researched sources and variances of each tale and come up with the most appropriate or feasible.
i very much enjoyed the classical tales told as they always were, not as sanitised Disney versions.
you can't beat a good old classical fairy tale told true to form.
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Grimm Tales: For Young and Old (Penguin Classics) by Philip Pullman (Paperback - 5 Sep 2013)