A scholar of fairy tales, Maria Tatar
, provides a fascinating introduction about the history and meaning of the stories assembled by the Brothers Grimm. She writes, for example, "We now know that the stories collected in the nineteenth-century folktale anthologies ...had their origins in an irreverent peasant culture that arose in conscious opposition to the feudal state's ruling class. By overdoing it in the realm of storytelling, these narrators were able to alleviate--if only temporarily--some of the tedium that marked the daily life of their audience ... [These tales] can be seen as the ancestors of our urban legends about vanishing hitchhikers and cats accidentally caught in the dryer or as the preliterate equivalents of tabloid tales describing headless bodies found in topless bars. But in many ways, it is the horror film to which the matter and manner of these folktales has most conspicuously migrated. Like horror films, folktales trade in the sensational--breaking taboos and enacting the forbidden with uninhibited energy."
The text of the 19 tales in this collection is based on the 1822 edition of Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Nursery and Household Tales) by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm--before the tales were expurgated and rewritten to make them more "suitable" for children. It's bound in a handsome faux-antique format, and lavishly illustrated by Tracy Arah Dockray (15 full-page color paintings, and a black-and-white drawing on nearly every page). Most of the tales will be unfamiliar to American and English readers, who may be surprised by the graphic descriptions of incest, murder, mutilation, and cannibalism. Chronicle Books has done us a service in helping restore to our adult culture these vivid, evocative folktales. --Fiona Webster
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Maria Tatar (Cambridge, Massachusetts) is one of the world's foremost Grimm scholars and is professor of Germanic languages and literature at Harvard.