The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales

Maria M. Tatar, Author Princeton University Press $45 (277p) ISBN 978-0-691-06722-3
This erudite, cogent perusal of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm's Nursery and Household Tales is, for the most part, accessible to a lay audience. Tatar charts the evolution of the tales through manuscript form and the various editions, and offers what she maintains is the first complete English translation of the prefaces to the first and second editions. The Grimms abandoned a scholarly effort to salvage pure remnants of folk poetry, advances Tatar, and ""with each new edition, the tales veered more sharply away from the rough-hewn simplicity of their first versions to a sanitized and stylized literary form that proved attractive to both parents and children.'' She demonstrates how the Grimms purged the collection of references to sexuality and incestuous desire but intensified violence, particularly when it took the form of revenge. In opposition to child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, Tatar warns that some cautionary tales may instill fear, rather than confidence, in children; regarding ``Bluebeard,'' she faults Bettelheim for turning a tale depicting the most brutal kind of serial murders into a story about idle female curiosity and duplicity. Tatar (Spellbound: Studies on Mesmerism and Literature) chairs the German literature department at Harvard University. Illustrated. (December)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1987
Release date: 11/01/1987
Ebook - 302 pages - 978-1-4008-0989-9
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-691-11469-9
Paperback - 302 pages - 978-0-691-01487-6
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