Entrancing, multi-layered and as wittily subversive as fairy tales themselves, this beautifully illustrated work explores and illuminates the unfolding history of famous fairy tales and the contexts in which they flourished.
This brilliant and timely study looks beyond the Freudian interpretation of fairy tales, to the tellers of the tales, and to the social and cutural contexts in which the tales are told and re-told through the centuries, from the ancient sibyls to the eighteenth-century SALONIERES, from Angela Carter to Disney. The value and enduring popularity of folk and fairy tales derives not only from their mythic significance but, crucially, from the fact that their concerns are rooted in the material world. Lively, provocative and ground-breaking, FROM THE BEAST TO THE BLONDE is Marina Warner's first major work of non-fiction since the acclaimed MONUMENTS AND MAIDENS.
Marina Warner is a novelist, historian and critic; her fiction includes Indigo ,The Lost Father (awarded a Common-wealth Writers' Prize), a collection of stories, The Mermaids in the Basement, and, more recently The Leto Bundle. Among her acclaimed works on myth, symbolism and fairy tales are Alone of All Her Sex, Joan of Arc, Monuments and Maidens (winner of the Fawcett Prize) and No Go the Bogeyman- Scaring, Lulling and Making Mock (Winner of the Katherine Briggs Folklore Award). She has edited Wonder Tales, six French fairy stories, and in 1994 she gave the Reith Lectures on BBC radio, Managing Monsters- Six Myths of Our Time.
Marina Warner is currently a Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge.
"Can itself evoke the sense of startled wonder that these tales first gave us" -- Laurel Graeber New York Times 19961229 "She is a terrific writer and an original scholar. This is a landmark book" -- Victoria Glendinning Daily Telegraph "Just like the tale-tellers she celebrates...she's a weaver of enchantments, each sentence is like a silken knot charming you further into her web of meanings" -- Michelle Roberts Independent on Sunday "Consistently enlightening...this is a brilliant work: wise, witty and as magisterially omniscient as any Sibylline oracle" -- Nicholas Tucker New Statesman and Society "Open the book at almost any page and you will find something to fascinate you" -- Noel Malcolm Guardian
Marina Warner has established an enormous reputation particularly with studies that directly address the mythic properties of the Virgin Mary and Joan of Arc. It is then a surprisingly small step from that to this, a work which analyses the way certain stories have demonstrated extraordinary resonance both through the ages and across cultures. She moves effortlessly from Perrault, de la Fontaine and their precursors to the ubiquitous Disney of today, showing the ways in which adaptations reflect the times for which they are written. But her erudition and intelligence are too great for simple answers or synopses to be given or found. Nonetheless stories such as Cinderella and The Little Mermaid, studied in depth in Part 2 with some other archetypal tales, are illuminated with marvellous clarity. (Kirkus UK)
Fabulous erudition marks this intricate study of the classic tales of wonder. Novelist and scholar Warner (Indigo, 1992; Monuments and Maidens, 1985; etc.) avows her sympathy for the fairy tales and tale-tellers on whom she focuses her keen feminist lens. Warner begins by arguing for the centrality to European fairy-tale culture, since ancient times, of old women, both as the oral historians who have passed it on and as key characters in its iconography. Reviled by some, the crones whom Warner spotlights nevertheless appear in formidable guises. Saint Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary, turns out to be the patron saint of gossips; her attributes survive in fairy tale figures (e.g., fairy godmothers). In a tour de force of scholarly speculation, Warner links the Queen of Sheba, whose riddles were the stuff of legend and who was known for her singular deformity of a webbed foot, to Mother Goose herself. Thus reweaving our understanding of the cultural unconscious, Warner draws on psychoanalysis, on philology, and on a trenchant feminism. While some connections seem stretched, for the most part these threads blend smoothly. The second part of Warner's book analyzes the tales themselves. "Bluebeard," "Beauty and the Beast," and "Donkeyskin," a little-discussed tale of a girl's escape from incest, are the central exhibits. Occasionally Warner lapses into selfindulgence, as in a reverie on the blue of Bluebeard's beard ("the marvellous . . . rare steak . . . melancholy . . . orgone energy"). But her genuine originality shows in her ability to wring fresh psychoanalytic insight out of texts that have been in intensive analysis for decades. The discussion of feet developed in passages on the Queen of Sheba, for example, casts new light on Cinderella's glass slipper; the golden hair and archetypal beasts named in the title are illuminated in similarly provocative ways. One factor contributing to this originality is Warner's astute readings of artworks throughout this sumptuously illustrated book. Marvelously energetic cultural criticism. (Kirkus Reviews)
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