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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Modern bias, 13 Jan 2008
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This review is from: The Annotated Brothers Grimm (Hardcover)
This is a handsome volume with some fabulous illustrations conjured up from 'grimoires' past. Be warned, though, that it is not a COLLECTED Grimm - you get only 37 of the 211 tales. Obviously the 'famous' stories feature in this selection (Rapunzel, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel...) but the more curious choices often feel to have been selected because they counteract the masculine pre-occupation of most folklore. Even the illustrations lean overly towards Kay Nielsen at the expense of Rackham, Goble, Crane etc.. It might be deprecatory, but it's an unfortunate fact that a lot of historical literature IS sexist and no amount of commentary can counteract the archetypal force of this. Tatar's enthusiasm often gives the lie to her academic aspirations and most readers of the footnotes will feel at times that they are being lectured on 'dark undercurrents' by a librarian in denial of her spinster status. Don't make it your ONLY copy of Grimm: but do buy it if you want to encourage publishers to keep making books that are beautiful objects even at this price.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Sep 2011 12:09:32 BDT
Oh Great One says:
It is unfortunate that people will rewrite our folk tale heritage to suit a social marxist agenda.

Posted on 4 Apr 2012 21:44:11 BDT
E. Hanley says:
This reviewer misses the point -- the editor is correcting the historical record. The Grimm brothers edited the original folk tales they had collected to conform to the cultural norms of their time. The original tales were not nearly as one-sided as the Grimm versions and do not present women as vapid and in need of discipline and rescue as required by 19th century Western European values, so Grimm rewrote a carefully selected subset for the popular version of his work. The editor of this work may well be a spinster librarian -- I have no idea -- but she has a far better command of her subject than this reviewer.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Apr 2012 01:55:57 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 Apr 2012 01:58:14 BDT
Sporus says:
Hmm. I was half-minded to agree with you (although I don't subscribe to the Rousseau-esque style of thought which imagines that `vernal utopias of gender equality' were historically quashed either by the Jews or the Roman Catholics or Puritan zealots...); but then I re-read Marina Tartar's introduction where she says that her book: "...attempts to redress the gender imbalance in volumes that offer a sampling, often heavily weighed towards female protagonists, of the Grimms' tales". So you see, we're BOTH dreadfully wrong!
Look mate - I'm a purchaser, not a `reviewer'. I only meant to advise others that this was not a complete edition of the tales; that nothing on its title page implies the revisionist agenda embroidered in its annotations, and - in a flight of personal prejudice, for sure - to imply a little misgiving about whether academics are best suited to `reseat' texts within a culture (...or are actually capable of doing so: I adore Calvino's `Italian Folk Tales' but even such a noted author achieved barely an iota of the impact made by the commercial juggernaut which is Walt Disney).
It's still a handsome book and personally, I rather like the `old spinster's' voice...

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Apr 2012 12:02:18 BDT
E. Hanley says:
Fair enough. I merely wanted to point out that the original Grimm, or at least the one that gained such popularity, was itself carefully sanitized to match cultural norms. Grimm chose his tales from a much larger collection he had published as an academic work, which shows that the profile of German folk tales was actually quite balanced in terms of gender roles. This author concealed her agenda; so did Grimm. In fact, he probably was not aware of having an agenda other than a desire to get published.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Nov 2012 16:38:16 GMT
SW VA says:
Everybody, however enlightened s/he imagines themselves to be, has an agenda. The modern twist is that we accuse each other of having one.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Nov 2012 03:42:21 GMT
Sporus says:
I wouldn't say it was a modern twist. There's a line in one of Byron's letters where he insists to his correspondent that someone is being honest unless he thinks "like the Italians always do" that everyone has a hidden purpose. Or maybe 'the Italians' were ahead of their time, eh!
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