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The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales: Expanded Second Edition Expanded Second Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691114699
ISBN-10: 0691114692
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Tatar's main concern is with the enduring hold of the tales on children's imaginations. Why should they enjoy stories about other children sent out to die in a wood, or being victimized by cruel stepmothers, or given impossible tasks to perform, and (if female) forced to marry frogs or bears? . . . The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales--related in language that is sharp, lively, and free of jargon--is delightful evidence that Grimm scholarship can give pleasure to the general reader."--Janet Adam Smith, New York Review of Books

"For scholars, students, and general readers, Tatar's book is a balanced, sensitive, and informative guide to the content and context of Grimms' fairy tales."--Merle Rubin, The Christian Science Monitor

"Tatar takes detours into literary history here and into comparative anthropology there. What results is at once intelligently eclectic and refreshingly commonsensical, a thoughtful ramble through the dark childhood woods that haunt our adult dreams."--Carl Maves, San Francisco Chronicle

"A clear, imaginative and fascinating illumination of the stories we thought we knew."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

About the Author

Tatar is Professor of German Literature at Harvard University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Expanded Second edition (May 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691114692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691114699
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.4 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: #644,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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By RAVENWOLF on February 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was an intersting book, but not exactly what I expected. I thought they would take individual tales and explain their meanings. It was too generalized.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came across this book in the foreword of an edition of Grimm's Tale I recently purchased, and thought quotes from the foreword seemed really interesting. This is a decent book with very solid research and viewpoints, but I was not expecting such a flat "academic essay".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Interesting study on the brothers' work. I have always been interested in the down-to-earth harshness of the original tales as opposed to the softened-up anglicized versions of later... similar to Hoffman's Struwwelpeter of the 19th Century.
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