- Paperback: 284 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 2nd edition (November 17, 1986)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415902630
- ISBN-13: 978-0415902632
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #630,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Don't Bet on the Prince: Contemporary Feminist Fairy Tales in North America and England 2nd Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
This might be a good book for the serious student of fairy tales or feminism, but I wouldn't read any of the stories in the second section to my children.
The second section, "Feminist Fairy Tales for Old (and Young) Readers," is comprised of more structurally complex stories that invite a silent reader to take time and try to swallow them. Though intended for adult readers, literate children can follow them, and for the most part should be encouraged to do so early and often. Sex roles and social station dominate these stories, but we get glimpses of how these issues are impacted by war, work, and more.
The third section, "Feminist Literary Criticism," is pretty slow-moving. Most of us are already familiar with the idea that fairy tales have detrimental effects on our children, especially our daughters, and while we may be briefly interested in a scholarly explanation of why this is so, the common reader won't get as much good out of this part as the previous two.
Educator, writer, and scholar Jack Zipes has compiled here an excellent antidote to the stultifying fairy tales that molded the minds of most of us when we were young. Zipes is the editor of several thematic books of fairy tales, and this is neither the least nor the last. Whether you approach this work as a parent, a reader, or a scholar, this book is highly rewarding.
"In none of these tales is marriage a necessity or a goal for young women, rather it is a possibility which may or may not enter their plans. [...] In addition, the lives and careers of the young women are not telologically [sic] shaped by marriage (17)," writes Zipes in his introduction, yet in a surprising number of Prince's stories marriage is presumed--and in more, female energy is focused on male figures, roles, and relationships. The stories that don't fulfill heteronormative goals of romance, marriage, and childbirth often focus on that failure, mourning the sense of loss that accompanies it. For a purportedly feminist anthology, Prince has a surprisingly strong focus on men (even in the title!), and heteronormative standards are nearly inviolate. Perhaps I aim too high (and take too modern an approach) when I wish that Prince didn't constrain its feminism to heteronormative obligate male/female relationships; the fact that it does not, however, makes it limited in scope and depth. And then there's de Larrabeiti's story "Malagan and the Lady of Rascas," in which a husband has his wife made grotesque to force her to remain faithful, and when she does for many years remain faithful--and good, patient, and forgiving--he learns to be a decent human being. A story where men make decisions, women survive ill treatment without complaint or agency, and men reap the rewards of the experience is not feminist--certainly not feminist enough to fit a collection that totes the word so boldly on its cover.
Prince is not all bad--many stories are second rate (not just because of their feminist content, but because they are too far divorced from their source material to be effective retellings), Zipes is a constant irritation, but the other essays are thoughtful (if dated and brief) and there are some intriguing stories in the collection. But the volume aims to be more than this, and it's a lofty goal; that it fails to reach that goal makes it a disappointment. There are better feminist takes on fairy tales out there, even if they don't come in such proud packaging. I don't recommend this one.