From The Beast To The Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers Paperback – 7 Sep 1995
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"Can itself evoke the sense of startled wonder that these tales first gave us" (Laurel Graeber New York Times)
"She is a terrific writer and an original scholar. This is a landmark book" (Victoria Glendinning Daily Telegraph)
"Just like the tale-tellers she celebrates...she's a weaver of enchantments, each sentence is like a silken knot charming you further into her web of meanings" (Michelle Roberts Independent on Sunday)
"Consistently enlightening...this is a brilliant work: wise, witty and as magisterially omniscient as any Sibylline oracle" (Nicholas Tucker New Statesman and Society)
"Open the book at almost any page and you will find something to fascinate you" (Noel Malcolm Guardian)
At once thoroughly enjoyable and academically rigorous, this lively and fascinating study of fairy tales and their social relevance throughout the ages is a modern classicSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Exploring the various roles women assume within fairy tales, Warner shows a marvellous intellect and surprises you at every turn. You thought you knew fairy tales? Guess again. Never will reading the kiddies a bedtime story be the same again.
Marina Warner is assuredly knowledgeable in her writing, which speaks of years of investigation into the vast number of variations that have produced the tales people would be familiar with today.
However, when it comes to the writing style, I have to disagree with previous reviews and state that I find it rigorous reading. My expectation was of something a little closer to recent popular history books, such as those by Alison Weir, Jenny Uglow or Richard Aldous, but this is definitely not the case. I find the book has a decidedly academic prose style. This partial quote is from Chapter One of the 1995 edition:
"The legends Antoine de La Sale collected appeared in different forms elsewhere: Fazio degli Uberti (d.1367) had written a poem about Simon Magus, in which the wizard travels to the area to dedicate his grimoire to the pagan oracle; Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (d.1464), who became Pope Pius II, first identified Sibilla with the goddess of love, Venus herself."
The above excerpt is from a twenty-three line paragraph which is dense with references to names and works which would be the first time many non-academic readers (such as myself) would encounter them. That's not to say there is anything wrong with this style of writing, if you are prepared on the subject and find it compatible with the reasons for reading it. I, unfortunately, did not. The prose is just hard work to engage with for the insight it gives.Read more ›
I've loved Marina Warner's book since it came out and I read it at least once a year. My original copy was becoming so dog-eared and full of notes that I decided to buy a new copy. However, it has not been produced to the same standard as the original. It looks like a print-on-demand book with a flimsy cover and nasty, shiny, cheap looking pages. It's also considerably thinner. As far as I can tell the content is the same (including the plates which have just been made smaller or condensed into blocks rather than appearing more freely and illustratively throughout) it just gives the appearance of being less substantial. I understand how increasingly publishers have to default to POD, especially for small print runs, but I was disappointed by the quality of this book. Surely they can do better?
So: 5 star book and if you haven't read it I encourage you to do so; but 1 star for the quality of this particular edition.
This is an academic book and the prose is sometimes dense - a small price to pay, in my view, for the breadth and depth of knowledge Marina Warner shares with her readers and for her acute insights and observations. There is barely a chapter in my copy which does not have paragraphs underlined or copious notes in the margins - not because I was using the book to study but because I found it so darned interesting. I particularly enjoyed the second half of the book which deals with the themes that run through the tales: absent mothers, wicked stepmothers, reluctant brides, runaway girls, the language of hair, etcetera.
The original paperback edition has got many fascinating - and sometimes startling - illustrations. The newer edition is much poorer quality and the illustrations suffer as a result. But buy it anyway if you are interested in fairy tales, in cultural history, in the wiles that women have used to galvanize, caution and advise, or in the role that story-telling plays to condition or subvert: this book will bring you both wisdom and delight!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must for students of fairy tale but don't expect and easy read. Marina Warner is fantastically knowledgeable and you have to stay sharp to follow her.Published 2 months ago by Ms Claire O'Brien
I received this book much sooner than expected and it was well packaged, etc. The condition of the book is good, but I was a bit surprised to see it was a former library book,... Read morePublished on 5 Jun. 2014 by F Swan
This is a wonderful book with enough meaty information to keep one busy for quite some time . Academic style so depth of research by marina incredible .
I ended up giving my copy of this book away. I had tried repeatedly to read it, every attempt was met with confusion. Read morePublished on 22 Feb. 2013 by MissMouse