For those of us brought up on Grimm's fairy tales (like me) - this is a real treat. I realised long ago that these stories have had a real influence on my life - honest! They are retold in a simple way that captures their very essence and the comments at the end of each story are very interest.
I always found fairy tales enchanting but disturbing. I can't imagine the magic, but totally get the grimness in them.
Phillip Pullman, retelling these tales from the perspective of the story teller, makes their telling more important than the tale.
In his book Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari talks about how folk/fairy tales might've come about with long evenings to kill and no iPhones when early humans first gave up nomadic life.
In her brilliant book Gossip from the Forest, Sara Maitland explains how these stories might've found inspiration from the natural world.
And through this book, Phillip Pullman tells us about the process through which those early ancestors with time on their hands and active imaginations, turned these inspirations from the natural world into tales that continue to fascinate and entertain us.
Has Phillip Pullman been knighted yet for his contributions to the development of the human mind? He's certainly the master storyteller of our times.
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The tales were well researched based on the Grimm Tales and other similar tales. The author takes the previous stories and retells them in his own fashion. That being said, they are not crudely modernised or changed dramatically. Rather, the author may add a small detail to tie the story together better or select certain phrases that he sees most fit. In that sense, the tales are not regurgitated but passed along with a flare from the author, as all good fairy tales should be. I particularly liked at the end of each fairy tale, there is a brief synopsis. The author discusses the story's structure, plot line - in essence how water tight they are as stories. I think this is really helpful if you have an interest in the art of story telling whether you be a writer yourself. Many of our modern day tales (movies and television) come from the Grimm Tales so it's worth knowing a bit about. Reading 20 of these tales was entertaining. After 30, they get a bit irksome as many follow similar patterns (princess, king, witch, magic). After 53 tales, 420 pages worth, which this book contains, your brain has verily turned to mush. In this sense, I don't think the book can be read cover to cover like a novel but rather periodically alongside other books to help give appreciation to this well researched, entertaining and ultimately fulfilling read.
4.5 stars. I audio read this, with the wonderful Samuel West reading. Recommended version.
Very enjoyable retelling of 50 of the Grimms' tales, most familiar but a few lesser known ones.
For the most part, it seems Pullman has just gently adapted some of the language but occasionally there's a moment that would require a parent to quickly think on their feet or skip ahead (or brave the discussion): Rapunzel getting pregnant for instance, or a poor couple living in a 'pisspot'.
Maybe one to read WITH a child, but an adult will also enjoy reliving these wonderful fairy tales and discovering a few new ones.
There's also a very informative introduction that offers a few points about the structure and style of a fairy tale that I found useful.
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Whether fan of Pullman or of the Grimm Brothers, this collection will delight all. There is a lot of talk in the readers' reviews here of such or such versions and technicalities etc...I would not look into it too closely personally, but having compared Pullman's with my Penguin edition of the Grimms brothers I was surprised to see that there isn't that much of a difference. Perhaps Pullman has made the tales more fluid, more readable, or perhaps his name is enough to re-hype them? I was also wondering if he came to that project being short of inspiration for a story of his own but in any case the result is a splendid, attractive book that will be the perfect Christmas present for both children and adults. There is a timeless magic to these strange, gruesome, eery, beautiful tales and one can simply never get tired of re-reading them and here is the perfect opportunity for doing just that. A treat.