Red Fairy Book

by Andrew Lang

Book, ?

Status

Available

Call number

FA

Call number

FA

Publication

Longman.

Original publication date

1890

Local notes

Andrew Lang's Fairy Books—also known as Andrew Lang's "Coloured" Fairy Books or Andrew Lang's Fairy Books of Many Colors—are a series of twelve collections of fairy tales, published between 1889 and 1910. Each volume is distinguished by its own color. In all, 437 tales from a broad range of cultures and countries are presented.

User reviews

LibraryThing member MillieHennessy
I don’t have as much to say about this book as I did about The Crimson Fairy Book, because a lot of my thoughts are still the same – as a modern reader I often find myself asking “why” when a character randomly does something. I long for more plot, character motivation, sound reasoning! I tried hard to leave those thoughts aside and just enjoy these wacky little tales.

The back of the book explains that this volume contains some familiar tales like Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, The Ratcatcher and Snowdrop. But it also contains “a wonderful collection of lesser-known tales from French, German, Danish, Russian and Roumanian sources.” It contains 37 tales and is an unabridged copy of the original 1890 edition, complete with 4 plates and 93 illustrations by H.J. Ford.

This book contained several tales that I grew up with as a child: The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Ratcatcher (I know it as The Pied Piper), Rapunzel and Snowdrop (aka Snow White). I first noticed that The Twelve Dancing Princesses was a little more sinister than I remember. In regards to their dancing adventures, the princes who dance with them all night long are all those who have come to find their secret – they had been made to drink a potion “which froze the heart and left nothing but the love of dancing.” In another tale, Princess Mayblossom (similar to Sleeping Beauty in that the princess is both gifted and cursed by fairies) the princess chooses to run off with a man simply based on his looks and soon regrets it. Yet, instead of learning a lesson, the evil fairy is blamed for the entire occurrence, leaving the princess free of any responsibility for her actions.

There are some stories that felt very familiar, not only to those in The Red Fairy Book, but also to other tales in this book. There are a lot of similar themes, like finding three magic items, receiving three gifts, fighting three enemies. The beautiful people are most often rewarded for being beautiful – though sometimes also clever and good – and they tend to marry other beautiful people. The villains are generally ugly or selfish – very basic representatives of the characteristics that can make us seem like bad people.

I found a nice quote in Jack and the Beanstalk – “…he was a very persevering boy, and he knew that the way to succeed in anything is not to give up.” I also liked the lesson at the end of The Voice of Death – A man decides he doesn’t want to die, so he travels far and wide to find a place where death doesn’t exist. He settles in a town where he’s told people don’t die – they just leave when a voice calls them away and they never return. The man thinks he’ll simply avoid the voice and live forever. Eventually it begins to call him while he’s at the barber shop. First he tries to ignore it, but it persists so much in calling him that he takes the barber’s razor and runs out the door, thinking that he will kill the voice. Instead he falls into a pit and dies. No one can escape death!

It’s fun to read these tales, despite the fact that I might be left scratching my head trying to find a lesson or moral. I do wish that at the beginning or end of each tale it would say what country it’s from. I also think these would be excellent fodder if someone was looking to reference or retell an obscure fairy tale.
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LibraryThing member Childrenslit
Author Andrew Land sis a great job in collecting the origional fairy tales from around the world to publish. The book is a compliation of the stories many people know but not in thier origional form. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Fairy Tales.
LibraryThing member hartn
What is so fascinating to me about fairy tales is the jolts, gaps in space and time, in character and plot, that offer such richness in their mystery and in the opportunity to work out something in my own imagination. In the story 'The Black Thief', the first and second queens of the land are contrasted, predictably, where the first was good and the second bad. But the contrast between the two queens is really only in rank: one queen's sons are heirs, the other queen's son is not, and she begins to plot wicked things. She dies "shattered to pieces" and there is a strange horror in the trap she was in and how she could not be a queen the way such a title was intended.
This is a book best read alone, letting the threes and twelves and cruelties, class markings and cunning subtly mark and haunt one's consciousness.
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LibraryThing member nieva21
I am now an avid Andrew Lang reader! I grew up loving the Red Fairy book, but not being able to fully appreciate it as much as all of the creative efforts that went into writing it. I feel that now that I was able to read this whole book as well as the Violet Fairy Book, I am also eager to read the other famous Fairy Books (all of which, I now own!, except the Rose book).
I believe they are written and compiled more for adults than for anything. But it is really this class, that got me to love fairytales again in a new way, looking for morals and motifs that tied everything together. Fantasy and sci-fi has a whole new meaning for me and I am not ashamed to say, I vow to read everything this man has written!
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LibraryThing member jenniebooks
Some new classic stories unknown to me
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