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hard facts of the grimms fairy tales The Hard Facts Of The Grimms' Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar. Princeton. 1987. Princeton University Press. 278 pages. Cover illustration - Snow White. From 'Sneewittchen. Ein Kinder-Marchen mit 17 Bildern, illustrated by Theodore Hosemann (Berlin - Winckelmann, 1847). 0691067228.

 

From one of the most interesting writers on folklore around, a look at the classic Grimm Brothers fairy tales in their uncensored form tracing their transformation from adult reading material to the watered-down tales that many of us first heard as children.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   A look at the classic Grimm Brothers fairy tales in their uncensored form tracing their transformation from adult reading material to the watered-down tales that many of us first heard as children. Even those who remember that Snow White's stepmother arranges the murder of her stepdaughter, that doves peck out the eyes of Cinderella's stepsisters, that Briar Rose's suitors bleed to death on the hedge surrounding her castle, or that a mad rage drives Rumpelstiltskin to tear himself in two will be surprised by Maria Tatar's revelations about the tales of the brothers Grimm in their unexpurgated form. Murder, mutilation, cannibalism, infanticide, and incest: the darker side of classic fairy tales figures as the subject matter for this intriguing study of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's Nursery and Household Tales. Although children never have much trouble accepting the hard facts of the bedtime stories in this collection, adults have often found it difficult to come to terms with their sensationalistic content. Bruno Bettelheim has taught us to look for deeper symbolic meanings in the violence of fairy tales. Now Professor Tatar skillfully employs the tools not only of the psychoanalyst but also of the folklorist, literary critic, and historian to examine the harsher aspects of the stories gathered by the Grimms. Few books have been written in English on the tales collected by the Grimms, and none has probed their allegedly happy endings so thoroughly. From a first chapter on 'Sex and Violence' to an epilogue entitled 'Getting Even,' the author presents an entirely new interpretation of this best-selling of all German books. She focuses above all on the wishes for revenge that drive the heroes and heroines of the Grimms' tales. In transforming folk materials that once served as adult entertainment into children's reading matter, the Grimms may have suppressed episodes touching on sexual matters, but they often embellished descriptions of cruelty, especially when it took the form of revenge. For Professor Tatar violent family conflicts, the pitting of the weak against the strong, and universal fantasies of retaliation are keys to the enduring popularity of the Grimms' stories. 'Tatar seeks to reexamine the Grimms' tales by combining methods from psychology, structuralism, folklore, and social history. She has a fine ability to bring together research in the field and to conceive new interpretations. The book is eminently readable and will certainly help the general reader to reassess the Grimms' tales. ' - JACK ZIPES, University of Florida.

 

 

 

Tatar Maria MARIA TATAR is Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. She is the author of SPELLBOUND: STUDIES ON MESMERISM AND LITERATURE (Princeton).

 

 

 

 

 

 



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