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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
From The Beast To The Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 2 May 2016
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.
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on 27 January 2017
Brilliant as usual from this author
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on 22 August 2017
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on 11 April 2014
Great read
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 .
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on 23 April 2016
As advertised, promptly delivered
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on 7 January 2016
Excellent service book as described
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on 16 October 2012
With an interest in learning more about the changing cultural meanings, and what meanings have remained the same, in fairy tales across generations I bought From the Beast to the Blonde. I was greatly encouraged by the reviews here as to the book's readability whilst retaining a thorough, scholarly approach.

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.

Marina Warner does write with wit and humour in places, particularly in bracketed asides, and has well-formulated arguments for her analyses of tales. As a resource, as an academic treatise, it certainly deserves five stars. As an accessible read; I'd debate that the book is truly written for the more casual reader and I would not strongly recommend it for those who are unused to such formal writing or completely new to the subject matter.
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on 18 September 2013
In this wonderful, scholarly book, Marina Warner explores the social context, meaning, and metamorphosis of fairy tales - from the Queen of Sheba via Old Mother Goose to the Disney Corporation - and the preoccupations of the people (mainly women) who told them. Rather than treating the stories as `archetypal' tales, Marina Warner returns them firmly to their historical context - a context in which small children really were abandoned in the forest during times of famine, where daughters suffered incest in silence, and where the lives of penniless old women were precarious indeed. As she restores the social context that has been airbrushed away since these tales were written down, she reveals them as they were: coded strategems for survival, triumph, subversion, rebellion. Fairy tales, as she says, have `a generic commitment to justice'.

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!
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on 7 May 2012
This is not a review of the book per se rather the current edition of it.

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.
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on 5 June 2014
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, which wasn't mentioned in the sales info. Ex-library books should be identified as such.
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