The weird and very wonderful world of clear faery
I confess I’ve been a devotee of fairy tales all my life. Indeed, the first downloads on my Kindle were various of the Andrew Lang collections.
So, why would I need more – well, the excellent, clean clear voice of Philip Pullman, which would tell some of these stories, which as he points out, are not sacrosanct text, but various transcribed versions of different voices telling the tales across space and time. Inevitably, some voices are fussier than others, some elaborations over time spoil the clear lines of the plain unvarnished tale
So Pullman gives us HIS voice telling the tales. He respects them hugely, and does not try to impose interpretation or give a spin of his own, he is merely interested in paring back so that the clean lines, the satisfying alliterations, the repetitions of events a certain number of times that the narrative requires, may be fully appreciated.
There is a short, fascinating introduction about the tradition of these tales, and following each beautifully recounted story, satisfyingly perfect in its often repeated ‘Once upon a time’ to ‘Happily Ever After’ is a short account of the substrate of each tale, who the original teller was (if recorded) in the original Grimm’s publication, and sometimes some information about later academic or literary interpretations of the tale.
As others have noted, the lack of pictures (GOOD! you have to paint your own internal pictures) may make this not so suitable for younger children, plus the fact that these are Grimms, not the more prettified and less horrific Perrault versions, again, may mean some little ones might get nightmares from the pecked out eyes, the chopped off feet (Cinderella, Grimms version)and all the rest. Mind you, as these were of course originally tales for children anyway I suspect it may be more adults thinking ‘these are too strong and frightening for children’ than those children themselves thinking that!
A beautifully presented book as well – one of those which reminds the reader of the pleasure of the weight and heft of a book, the smell and feel of its pages, the lovely red bookmark ribbon, the attractive dustjacket. One for the bookshelf, to be read again, cover to cover, in a few years
I received this originally as an ARC from Amazon Vine UK