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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.)

Pub Date: May 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-691-06943-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1992

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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