From Publishers Weekly
Since publishing Don't Bet on the Prince a decade ago, Zipes has established himself as the preeminent popularizer of the social and psychological uses of fairy tales for a contemporary audience. The 11 essays collected here are revised and updated introductions and afterwords written by Zipes for his books dealing with fairy and folk literature. His aim in updating and reissuing this material is to highlight the historical role that fairy tales, both oral and written, play in socializing and civilizing their audience. Backed by scholarly research and cross-cultural references, the essays describe how a privileged, educated minority has used fairy tales to defend and maintain its status while incorporating and perpetuating the belief that the poor could triumph over the ruling class through cunning and moral integrity. Zipes's main thesis is that fairy tales are a dynamic mixture of upper- and lower-class values that at once reinforce a society's class structure and, with subtlety and humor, show the emperor's nakedness without upsetting the status quo. The chapters on fairy tale creators Hans Christian Andersen, Oscar Wilde, Herman Hesse and Americans Frank Stockton and L. Frank Baum connect these writers' outsider status with their use of the fairy tale to explore nonconformism and to voice their opposition to hypocrisy, commercialism and war. Of primary interest to students of children's literature, the book may also appeal to readers concerned with social history, although the links between these disparate pieces are not as solidly forged as they might have been had Zipes written a single cohesive study of the subject.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Zipes has forged a career out of brilliant and subversive analyses of fairy tales. Here he gathers in somewhat recast form previously published introductions and afterwords and turns them into a scholarly but lucid text, with enchanting illustrations from compilations through the centuries. The rise of the literary fairy tale came about in seventeenth-century France in the salons of aristocratic women, who told stories based on the folktales of their childhood, but the truly ancient Arabian Nights
tales deeply colored everything that followed their introduction in Europe in the eighteenth century. Zipes relates the lives of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen as metaphors of class struggle and knowing one's place as played out in the tales they constructed and related. Chapters on Oscar Wilde, Frank Baum, Collodi (Pinocchio
), the now-forgotten Frank Stockton, and Herman Hesse follow a nimble analysis of the delayed development of the literary fairy tale in Victorian England. Intelligent and thoughtful fun, without deconstructing the land of Faerie into dust and ashes. GraceAnne A. DeCandido
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