Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman

Pullman, Philip. (2012). Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm. Penguin Group; New York. 

If you enjoy reading fairy tales, you’ll find this anthology of stories to be a real treat. Carefully deconstructing what makes fairy tales so central to our experience of being human, Philip pulls together some classic tales in the modern English language. This is no easy feat – consequently, each separate story ends with a little explanation of the various sources and thoughtful mechanics behind the writing style.

From the many English Literature courses I’ve taken over the years, I know only too well how these fairy tales can be hyper-analyzed. Thankfully, Philip offers versions which are enjoyable and lyrical to read, rather than tomes filled with deep sub-text. As Maria Tatar writes in The New Yorker:

“Left cold by Freudian, Jungian, or Marxist readings of fairy tales as well as by feminist critiques and any of the usual orthodoxies, Pullman longs for what the poet James Merrill calls an ‘unseasoned telling’—purged of dross, untainted by an overlay of piety, politics, or prudery” (Tatar, November 21, 2012).

If you think that these are just tales about Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood – the ubiquitous tales which we all know so well – you’re in for a second treat with this book. Philip also pulls out some more obscure tales for the curious reader, as described by Amanda Katz in the The New York Times:

“Other stories don’t need to be told afresh, because they will be new to most readers. One of my favorite of these, ‘The Girl With No Hands,’ is full of almost Gothic detail: a girl’s hands cut off by her father, a romance undone by falsified letters, a reunion confirmed by the unveiling of a pair of silver prosthetics. However, the story also has Christian notes — guardian angels, for instance — that seem at odds with these dark, fantastic twists” (Katz, December 17, 2012).

Overall, a compelling and rich collection of stories for readers! Highly recommended!

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