A not all that timely collection of fairy tales from editor Zipes (Victorian Fairy Tales, 1987, etc.), written between 1951 and 1992, the bulk of which are unsuccessful Thurber-like attempts. Written in the '70s, they are often didactic feminist reversals of traditional tales. It is, however, the stories that are neither ironic nor mocking that are the most effective. Richard Kennedy's ""The Dark Princess"" examines true love in the tragic account of a blindingly beautiful and blind princess who demands that her suitors prove their love by giving up their own sight. Although they all declare their love for her, not one is willing to pass her test. Only the court fool, who cannot even gain the princess's hand by his act, gazes at the princess without his protective colored glass. Jane Yolen's ""The Seal Maid"" is the sad story of a selchie, a seal woman, who leaves the water to marry. Although she loves her human husband, she must eventually return with their seven sons to the sea. A.S. Byatt, in the metafictional ""The Story of the Eldest Princess,"" looks at the fairy tale itself and asks if predetermined plots can be ignored. A few worthwhile contributions in a generally worthless book.