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From The Beast To The Blonde


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At once thoroughly enjoyable and academically rigorous, this lively and fascinating study of fairy tales and their social relevance throughout the ages is a modern classic

About the Author

Marina Warner is a novelist, historian and critic; her fiction includes Indigo ,The Lost Father (awarded a Common-wealth Writers' Prize), a collection of stories, The Mermaids in the Basement, and, more recently The Leto Bundle. Among her acclaimed works on myth, symbolism and fairy tales are Alone of All Her Sex, Joan of Arc, Monuments and Maidens (winner of the Fawcett Prize) and No Go the Bogeyman- Scaring, Lulling and Making Mock (Winner of the Katherine Briggs Folklore Award). She has edited Wonder Tales, six French fairy stories, and in 1994 she gave the Reith Lectures on BBC radio, Managing Monsters- Six Myths of Our Time. Marina Warner is currently a Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge.


Notwithstanding the prominence of the Grimm Brothers and Charles Perrault, most narrators of fairy tales, asserts Warner, have been women‘nannies, grannies, 18th-century literary ladies, sibyls of antiquity. In this richly illustrated, erudite, digressive feminist study, cultural historian Warner (Alone of All Her Sex) argues that instead of seeking psychoanalytic meanings in fairy tales, we must first understand them in their social and emotional context. In her analysis, ``Bluebeard'' and ``Beauty and the Beast'' reflect girls' realistic fears of marrige in an era when women married young, had multiple children and often died in childbirth. Her delightfully subversive inquiry profiles reluctant brides, silent daughters, crones, witches, fates, muses, sirens, Saint Anne (image of the old wise woman), the biblical Queen of Sheba and Saint Uncumber, who grew a beard to avoid marriage but was crucified for her rebellion. Angela Carter's fiction, surrealist Leonora Carrington's comic fairy tales, Walt Disney movies and French aristocratic fairy tales of veiled protofeminist protest by Marie-Jeanne L'Heritier and Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy provide grist for her mill. (Oct.)

In this scholarly, original, and insightful study, Warner (Alone of Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary, 1983) explores the relationship between fairy tales and their historical and social contexts. She persuasively demonstrates that the teller of the tale-whether a prophesying enchantress luring knights to their doom or the jolly old beldame, Mother Goose-inevitably reflects the prevailing social prejudices for and against women. Warner first traces the "layered character of the traditional narrator" and the interconnections between storytellers and heterodox forms of knowledge. In the second half of the book, Warner takes up a sampling of tales and demonstrates in them such adult themes as the presense of painful rivalry and hatred between women (Cinderella). Finally, she explores the association of blondeness in the heroine with preciousness and desirability. Highly recommended for all readers who wish a deeper understanding of the fairy tales and cultural icons that have shaped us.-Marie L. Lally, Alabama Sch. of Mathematics & Science, Mobile

"Can itself evoke the sense of startled wonder that these tales first gave us" -- Laurel Graeber * New York Times *
"She is a terrific writer and an original scholar. This is a landmark book" -- Victoria Glendinning * Daily Telegraph *
"Just like the tale-tellers she celebrates...she's a weaver of enchantments, each sentence is like a silken knot charming you further into her web of meanings" -- Michelle Roberts * Independent on Sunday *
"Consistently enlightening...this is a brilliant work: wise, witty and as magisterially omniscient as any Sibylline oracle" -- Nicholas Tucker * New Statesman and Society *
"Open the book at almost any page and you will find something to fascinate you" -- Noel Malcolm * Guardian *

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