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The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales (Expanded Second Edition) Paperback – May 26, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0691114699 ISBN-10: 0691114692 Edition: Expanded

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Expanded edition (May 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691114692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691114699
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #541,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Tatar brings into focus both familiar and not-so-familiar fairy tales as she by highlighting a number of important areas: the genesis and editorial history of the tales as they evolved from folk material to children's stories; interpretive approaches; nature and structure; the humble, fearless hero and humbled, hard-working heroine; villains; and, briefly, revenge. Her observations are unburdened by Marxist, psychoanalytical, or pedagogical biases, instead resting on sound and thorough scholarship and careful reading and comparison of texts. The absence of a bibliography is lamentable but should not prevent acquisition of this exceptional study by every library with a fairy tale collection. Patricia Dooley, formerly with Drexel Univ., Philadelphia
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Maria Tatar teaches folklore, children's literature, and German cultural studies at Harvard University. She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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A great companion to the Zipes editions of the Grimms.
Julia Starkey
The lack of serious treatment of these grim topics makes me feel that this book was misnamed in an attempt to drum up sales.
Amazon Customer
It was an intersting book, but not exactly what I expected.
venitta

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Julia Starkey on April 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
I really have to disagree with the previous reviewer. Tatar doesn't force the interpretations at all. She has spent years in archives looking at the varying editions of the Grimms' tales, and working with materials about life at the time the tales were collected. She's very rigorous in her research, and I think the conclusions she draws are really amazing. Her writing can be dense at times, but not so much so that you can't understand where she's going. This book is more scholarly than popular, but it's well worth reading for fans of the Grimms and other 19th century collections of fairy tales. A great companion to the Zipes editions of the Grimms.
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54 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Emily J. Morris VINE VOICE on August 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I can't say how long getting this book as been on my mind. I'd tell my friends about this book I've seen, and we'd all giggle, unsure of what it actually was about. Seriously, I thought it was just some lady bashing fairy tales and digging up all the dirt on them.
Well, it's certainly the latter, but nothing was bashed. Tatar obviously has done a lot of research in creating this book. Many venerable references were used. Tatar dives into the world of fairy tales; their history, their content, the truth behind them. It is fascinating. I've been aware of some X-rated material behind Disney's works, but my eyes were still opened at the horrors hidden. Now I KNOW why all the *step*-mothers were jealous of the beautiful daughters.
A delightful addition were the several tales and prefaces at the back of the book.
"The Hard Facts of Grimm's Fairy Tales" is an fascinating, educational book for any student or lover of fairy tales. My one qualm is how Tatar seemed to be doing some name-calling and finger-pointing in several incidents. An unbiased approach would have been better.
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31 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
Hard Facts of Grimms' Fairy Tales / 0-691-11469-2

Like many of us, I am deeply interested in fairy tales and I eagerly anticipated this book, looking forward to an engaging, informative handling of the content and textual analysis of the Grimms' tales, with a focus on the un-"child-friendly" elements so common in the stories, due to their original intent to entertain mature audiences.

Unfortunately, I was profoundly disappointed in this book. Clarity and organization are severely lacking and the whole book feels very much like a hastily expanded dissertation that was haphazardly padded to 'book size'. The writing runs in various different directions, often seemingly at random, with no clear view of why a certain topic was discussed, nor how it led into the next topic.

For example, in the first chapter ("SEX AND VIOLENCE: The Hard Core of Fairy Tales"), Tatar deals very briefly and very superficially on the existence of sex and violence in fairy tales before moving hurriedly on to devote the bulk of the chapter on the Grimms' financial difficulties, publishing woes, irritation over harsh critics, and such varied and dissimilar themes as the differences in vernacular between various editions, the misfortunes of modern compilers who have not had the older, less heavily edited versions available, and authors who failed to realize that the "Grimms" author were two people, not one. Most of these topics, as the shrewd reader will note, have little or nothing to do with sex or violence in Grimms' fairy tales or any others, so it is deeply unclear why this comprised the bulk of a chapter titled "SEX AND VIOLENCE".

Another flaw in this book pointing to a dissertation source is Tatar's baffling obsession with diagrams.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By SusieQ on May 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
Ms. Tatar has a dry, somewhat solidly academic style of expression which unfortunately made reading this book a chore, rather than a distinct pleasure (despite its admirable research into the original sources for the tales of the brothers Grimm and the history behind the many revised versions of various tales).

While this is an intelligent, informative book, it was 'weighty' when it could have been written with a much lighter touch. I don't mean, in a poking-fun-at-the-subject style, or that Ms. Tatar needed to dumb it down, but just... lighter. Some writers, including academics, have this gift and others just - don't.

The (black & white only) illustrations are very good; I particularly liked the ones drawn by Gustave Dore, and could wish there were a few more of these.

This book would probably be a very useful source for a college term paper, but as reading material for the ordinary person (like me) with an interest in the facts behind fairy tales... well, in the end, I'm relieved this was a library loan and not a purchase.
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20 of 29 people found the following review helpful By BADASSGIRLHEAD on April 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have read several of Maria Tatar's books for critical fairy tales analysis.
The book is lush with beautiful drawings and the writing style is acutely very good, and very easy to read, and understand.
However, I just really wasn't impressed because I had known most of the information that was presented in thisvolume.
I acutely would recommend her novel The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales and her up coming book The Annotated Brothers Grimm ( this also looks very interesting. )
The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales ( to me at least. ) Would be a good starter point for someone who really wants to know the truth about fairy tales.
More recommend for new comers who want's great art work and something easy to read.
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