Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood Reprint Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691000886
ISBN-10: 0691000883
Why is ISBN important?
ISBN
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$7.23 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
Buy new On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$43.95 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
More Buying Choices
26 New from $27.13 33 Used from $7.23
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
$43.95 FREE Shipping. Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood
  • +
  • The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales
Total price: $57.05
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Provocative observations on the uses (and misuses) of ``classic'' fairy tales are overwhelmed by academic jargon in this oddly disjointed and disappointing study from Tatar (German Literature/Harvard). Expanding on her The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales (1987), Tatar examines the transformation of often ribald adult folk-tale prototypes into sometimes horrifyingly violent children's stories rooted in the assumptions and realities of a particular social context. At the time when such well-known collectors as the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen were combining folk legends with the children's literary conventions of ``cautionary'' and ``exemplary'' stories, Tatar says, infant death, abandonment by parents, and starvation were not uncommon. Today, Tatar advises, these ``cruel'' and ``sadistic'' tales, anachronistic at best, with heroines earning redemption through ``a servile attitude'' and obedience, should yield to ``a creative folklore...reinvented by each generation of storytellers and reinvested with creative social energy.'' The author fails to elaborate on this point, however, with more than sketchy suggestions about discussing stories with children. Tatar does provide a neat common-sensical corrective to the interpretive inversions of Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment (1976), in which child victims become psychologically muddled villains (the starving Hansel and Gretel, Tatar points out, have reasons to devour the witch's house far more compelling than Bettelheim's ``uncontrolled cravings''). The author also offers an interesting dissection of the pervasive sexism of many fairy tales (why all the female villains?). The dreary monograph form of much of the book never quite gels, unfortunately, with Tatar's practical, if undeveloped, popular exhortations. (Thirty illustrations--some seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Winner of the 1992 Book Prize in Literature, German Studies Association

"As provocative and stimulating as her The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales, this book should give a salutary shock to everyone who brings children and tales together, convincing them that "every interpretation is a rewriting' and encouraging them "to identify what is transmitted in the stories we tell children.'"--Library Journal
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (October 4, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691000883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691000886
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #874,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

5 star
100%
4 star
0%
3 star
0%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 7 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Carmichael on October 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Tatar's text discusses readers as an "interpretive community" of individuals who are responsible for distilling meaning from stories independently but within a cultural framework. She points to an agenda of socialization and acculturization in children's literature, and notes that the values meant to be conveyed have shifted over the centuries. Though some of the language follows the challenging tone of literary criticism, on the whole this is a very readable text filled with invaluable insights.

Of particular interest is a chapter devoted to the study of fairy tale heroines, in which Tatar asserts that the characters' roles were meant to groom them for marriage and subservience. The text is well-researched, well-written and thoroughly considered. Though it displays a clear feminist bias, the observations stemming from that bias help to make this book of particular use to anyone interested in exploring the use of fairy tales as a form of indoctrination for young girls, as well as the villainization of women in fairy tales.
Comment 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Maria Tartar's _Off With Their Heads_ is a brillilant analysis of European folklore and fairytales, showing not only the surreptitious way in which familar stories were "sanitized" for publication by notable folklorists such as the Grimms, but also the way in which the messages of the stories subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) were manipulated to become cautionary tales and to frighten children into behaving as adults want them to.

As D.Blankenship points out, much of Tartar's analysis is through a feminist lens; this makes sense, as many of the stories examined have female protagonists (from Rapunzel to Cinderella to the lesser-known "Mother Holle.") The gist being that girls are taught from a young age (old enough to listen and understand children's stories) that (1) beauty wins over ugliness, (2) minding your parents - especially your father - is rewarded, and (3) not minding your parents typically results in a horrible punishment disproportionate to the act. Later chapters are analyzed with a more psych-analytical lens, but with similar conclusions regarding wish-fulfillment and child-parent relations.

What struck me most powerfully was the way in which folktales, which were originally very scatalogical and "earthy" were modified and re-written to become not only cautionary tales, but also tales to "improve the moral standing" of children. That particular emphasis was put on breaking the spirit of the child - the earlier the better - in order to make them malleable and manageable I found particularly interesting (and appalling.) Given the early stages of industrialization when many of these tales were put to print, this makes sense. Tartar doesn't go far enough, I think, in drawing the parallel that these ideas remain in some parenting books and in the way in which some children are instructed even today.

A fascinating read, and one which I strongly recommend, particularly to those who have children or teach.
10 Comments 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I absolutely despise the term "a must read" but I almost have to use it in this case for anyone engaged in the study and understanding of fairy tales or folk lore, and the impact these tales have had upon our society through the years. This is probably one of the most readable and insightful works on the subject I've had the pleasure of reading and I learned much. As with any such work, the reader needs to combine the information found between the covers of this book and compare it with other works of this ilk and the own readers knowledge and common sense. That being said....

Mara Tatar, of whom I am a big fan, has broken this work down into chapters, each covering ad different aspect of the traditional fair tale. These various subjects include Rewritten by Adults: The Inscription of Children's Literature, Teaching Them A Lesson: The Pedagogy of Fear in Fairy Tales, Just Desserts: Reward-and-Punishment Tales, Wilhelm Grimm/Maurice Sendak: Dear Mili and the Art of Dying Happily Ever After, Daughters of Eve: Fair Tale Heroines and their Seven Sins, Tyranny at Home: "Catskin" and "Cinderella," Beauties and Beasts: From Blind Obedience to Love at First Sight, "As Sweet as Love": Violence and the Fulfillment of Wishes, Table Matters: Cannibalism and Oral Greed, Telling Differences: Parents vs. Children in "The Juniper Tree," and Reinvention through Intervention.

Each subject chapter is interlock with the others and there are frequent footnotes and cross references. It is noted that the general flavor of this work leans towards feminism and the use of the fairy tale to either control or encourage the female child. It also leans heavily toward the psychological significance of each of the tales covered both from a current perspective and the past.
Read more ›
10 Comments 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tatar is at her best in the book; insightful, thorough and as always eye-opening when it comes to the understanding of fairy tales. Even if you are not studying this genre, or even a fan of it, understanding how fairy tales operate in our daily lives is a powerful tool.
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: mythology books