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Classic Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault Hardcover – 21 Sep 2012
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About the Author
Although best known for his stained glass work, Harry Clarke (1889-1931) first found fame as a book illustrator. His edition of The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (reissued by Gill & Macmillan in 2011) was followed by illustrated editions of Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination, The Years at the Spring, Charles Perrault's Fairy Tales of Perrault, and Goethe's Faust.
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The edition I am reviewing is the 1986 hardback facsimile edition of "The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault," first published in 1922 by George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. There are other editions of Perrault, some marvelously illustrated by, for example, Gustav Dore, and there is a paperback 2015 edition of the Clarke version, many of which may be very good indeed. But this is the 1922 edition, and I sing its praises.
Ten tales are included. Some were familiar to me, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Blue Beard, The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, The Master Cat or Puss in Boots, Cinderilla, and some were not, such as Riquet with the Tuft, Little Thumb, The Ridiculous Wishes, and Donkey-Skin. The text is wonderful in its cadence, perfect for reading aloud, jn its beauty, and in its gravitas, for these are tales of serious matters albeit often with happy endings.
For instance, ""The very spits at the fire, as full as they could hold of partridges and pheasants, did fall asleep, and the fire likewise." And "The very moment the faggot-maker and his wife were got home, the lord of the manor sent them ten crowns, which he had owed them a long while, and which they never expected." And "The celebrations of this illustrious marriage lasted nearly three months, but the love of the two young people would have endured for more than a hundred years, had they outlived that age, so great was their affection for one another."
The lavish illustrations are stylized using pen-and-ink, silhouettes, and water-color, the style being that of the 1910s and 1920s. Think Maxfield Parrish and Aubrey Beardsley, for example. The princes are androgyne. slender & nobly attired, the ballgowns are elegant enough for Versailles, the ogres loathsome and the villains distinctly Satanic with cloven hooves and shaggy limbs.
This is a book to treasure, a legacy book for reading oneself and for sharing with a very lucky child.
Any Alerts? One only--- the pen & ink drawings, Beardsley style, can involve bare bos*ms, including n*pples. Most children possibly won't notice but adults may. This book probably will not be inexpensive or easy to find, but worth the effort.