The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales

by Alison Lurie (Editor)

Hardcover, 1993




Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1993.


Most people think of fairy tales as having been created anonymously and almost magically long ago, and later discovered and recorded by scholars such as the Brothers Grimm. In fact original fairy tales are still being written. Over the last century and a half many well-known authors have used the characters and settings and themes of traditional tales such as 'Cinderella', 'Hansel and Gretel', and 'Beauty and the Beast' to produce new and characteristic works of wonder and enchantment. The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales brings together forty of the best of these stories by British and American writers from John Ruskin and Nathaniel Hawthorne to I.B. Singer and Angela Carter. These tales are full of princes and princesses, witches and dragons and talking animals, magic objects, evil spells, and unexpected endings. Some of their authors, like John Ruskin and Oscar Wilde, use the form to point a social or spiritual moral; others such as Jeanne Desy and Richard Kennedy, turn the traditional stories inside out to extraordinary effect. James Thurber, Bernard Malamud, and Donald Barthelme, among many others, bring the characters and plots of the traditional fairy tale into the contemporary world to make satiric comments on modern life. The literary skill, wit, and sophistication of these stories appeal to an adult audience, even though some of them were originally written for children. They include light-hearted comic fairy stories like Charles Dickens's 'The Magic Fishbone' and L.F. Baum's 'The Queen of Quok', thoughtful and often moving tales like Lord Dunsany's 'The Kith of the Elf Folk' and Philip K. Dick's 'The King of the Elves', and profoundly disturbing ones like Lucy Lane Clifford's 'The New Mother', and Ursula Le Guin's 'The Wife's Story'. Together they prove that the fairy tale is not only one of the most popular and enduring forms, but a significant and continually developing part of literature.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member pandoragreen
A delightful mix of short stories from 1839-1989. Some lesser known works from some well known authors such as George Macdonald, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Chatles Dickens, Howard Pyle, Oscar Wilde, E. Nesbit, L. F. Baum, H. G. Wells, Lord Dunsay, Robert Louis Stevenson, and others. Then into more modern
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authors such as Philip K. Dick, Tanith Lee, Angela Carter, Jane Yolen, etc. Quite the mix.
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LibraryThing member the1butterfly
I was happy to come across this, because I had long been asking myself the question of what constitutes a fairy tale, and this at least begins to answer that by the selection of tales provided. There are a good number of tales dating from 1839 to 1989. The tales vary in readability and
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enjoyability, but are good overall. They are also much more detailed than earlier tales due to being written rather than rewritten from oral versions.
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LibraryThing member Foxen
This is a really good collection of fairy tales selected based on being specifically written by an author (in the sense of someone sat down and decided to write a fairy tale, instead of collecting or transcribing them from some other source). Most of them play on the genre of the fairy tale,
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although some of the older ones are also straight-up morality tales. My favorite ones tend to be the ones that play with the gendered nature of fairy tales (princesses in distress, that sort of thing) "The Light Princess" and "The Princess Who Stood on Her Own Two Feet" are both very good stories in that regard. The book is arranged chronologically, and the essay at the beginning about the whole idea is also very interesting. Overall this is a great, very well thought out, collection of fairy tales and fairy-tale-like short stories, and also a tolerably good overview of the history of the genre. Highly recommended if you're interested in fairy tales and they way they've been used in society.
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LibraryThing member .Monkey.
This was a fun collection of stories, with a reasonable (though not especially fabulous) introduction. There were a few stories that I was less than thrilled with, but a whole lot of very enjoyable and entertaining ones, with a couple that were a bit deeper. Very top favorites include Nathaniel
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Hawthorne's rather cutting Feathertop, Frank Stockton's amusing and poignant The Griffin and the Minor Canon, Lord Dunsany's yearning tale The Kith of the Elf-Folk, Philip K. Dick's surprising The King of the Elves, and I.B. Singer's sweet Menaseh's Dream. But many others were also great, either morality tales or simply humorous, and even a few with some light feminist flair. Recommended for all fairy tale lovers.
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LibraryThing member dbsovereign
Each of these stories serves as a portal into a magical realm -- at times more realistic than others. So far, very entertaining. George MacDonald's "The Light Princess" is pricelessly charming. The stories in this book would make for good stories to be read aloud.
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
Amazing. YA and adult - parents should read first then share selections with younger children. Also a good resource for scholars. Two of the later selections, by Barthelme and by Erdrich, I didn't think fit well and I wish I'd skipped. The appendix of biographical notes is going to keep me in
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'to-read' books for a long time.

A neat quote from Hawthorne's tale: ... the scarecrow reminds me of some of the lukewarm and abortive characters, composed of heterogeneous materials, used for the thousandthe time, and never worth using, with which... writers (and myself, no doubt, among the rest), have so overpeopled the world of fiction."

And Pyle shares a zinger: "... nobody in the world can have more than contentment..."

Fairy tales, folklore, fables - all are still relevant, even valuable.

Reread May 2016, bewitched all over again. T.H. White mentions a dish, served in northern Sweden/ Lapland, that I want to try: "a thick sour-cream soup that was taken cold with pepper and sugar."

Mary de Morgan is an author I'm adding to my wishlist, but maybe only on Project Gutenberg or at universities? "
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World Fantasy Award (Nominee — Anthology — 1994)



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