BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World
Maria Tatar ▪ Penguin Classics ▪ $16.00
On sale March 7, 2017 ▪ ISBN: 9780143111696
ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN EBOOK
In preparation for the Disney live-action film, Penguin Classics is releasing a new edition of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Perhaps no fairy tale is as widely known as BEAUTY AND THE BEAST—and perhaps no fairy tale exists in as many variations. To some, it is a love story, demonstrating the transformative power of compassion; to others, it is a cautionary tale, helping sort out sexual politics, marital roles, and feelings of ostracism. Nearly every culture tells the story in one fashion or another. From Cupid and Psyche to India’s Snake Bride to South Africa’s “Story of Five Heads,” the partnering of beasts and beauties, of humans and animals in all their variety—cats, dogs, frogs, goats, lizards, bears, tortoises, monkeys, cranes, warthogs—has beguiled us for thousands of years, mapping the cultural contradictions that riddle every romantic relationship.
In this fascinating volume, preeminent fairy tale scholar Maria Tatar brings together tales from ancient times to the present and from a wide variety of cultures, highlighting the continuities and the range of themes in a fairy tale that has been used both to keep young women in their place and to encourage them to rebel, and that has entertained adults and children alike. With fresh commentary, she shows us what animals and monsters, both male and female, tell us about ourselves, and about the transformative power of empathy.
Prefacing each story with an introduction that establishes its place within culture and within the anthology, Tatar provides not only an entertaining collection but also a way to appreciate how cultures around the world have used animals in storytelling to understand those who are different or foreign or otherwise outside of their communities.
Before reading this book I’ve never watched The Beauty And The Beast movie or read any of the versions of books that have in the past been written for children because frankly, I have never been interested in frilly dresses and love stories. So when I was offered the opportunity to review this book it was the second part of the title that caught my eye, Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World, now I am thinking to myself this is unlike anything I have read before could there be more to Beauty And The Beast than I realized? Yes, yes there was and more fascinating than I could have imagined, but I am not one to read and tell. One thing that is important to mention is this book consists of a whole compilation of tales from around the world, that are very well placed together. There is an introduction that does an ample job of explaining about the fundamentals of the tales you're about to divulge into also above each individual tale there is a brief note relative to what tale you are about to read.
This is a book about love, but not an artificial love consisting of just looks and smarts it goes deeper than that in a lot of these stories it's about respect, being kind, and in many cases putting one's self through physical hell to show one's partner their deep seeded feelings consequently it is then that true love is found. Whereas, not all fairy tales have a happy ending. For example, one of my favorite tales in this book is THE CONDOR AND THE SHEPHERDESS that originates from Bolivia.
The condor swooped down on the parrot and swallowed it whole with its big mouth. The parrot promptly came out the other end. The condor swallowed the parrot again and the parrot once again flew out from behind. The condor furious because he was not able to destroy his hated adversary, took him between his sharp claws and tore him to pieces, which he ate one by one. Yet to his great surprise, a beautiful little parrot flew out from behind for every piece he ate.
As you might have noticed from the quote above these fairy tales can be both amusing while others can be quite ghastly. Nevertheless, this is a tremendous learning experience about different cultures from around the world including showing how no matter where you live love is identical everywhere. I truly would recommend this book to everyone. I know that I will be rereading this book until it falls apart.
Maria Tatar is the John L. Loeb Professor of Folklore and Mythology and Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. She is the author of many acclaimed books, as well as the editor and translator of The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen, The Annotated Brothers Grimm, The Classic Fairy Tales: A Norton Critical Edition, The Grimm Reader, and The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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"Thank you, Penguin, for letting me give an honest review of this book"