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Victorian Fairy Tales edited by Michael Newton

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I remember my first book of Fairy Tales- the thumping heart and the glint in my eyes, as I held the book close to my heart!!!!The fascination had kept me and many other young readers glued to books and lost in the mystical and magical world of fairies, elves, imps, giants and humanised animals.

For centuries, folktales flourished and were passed on to generations orally. To preserve these tales for time immemorial, writers in Italy and France started writing them down in the late seventeenth century. This carried on and in the nineteenth century, British, Irish and German writers started creating their own tales, with shades from centuries old folklore. They experimented with social and political themes.  There work reflected love and morality on one side and jealousy and hatred on the other.While some called these tales magnificent, there were some who saw them as escapist and kitsch. The tales written were for children and adults. This anthology brings together sOn my way! known and some unknown tales that are lovely, whimsical and yet mysterious. The illustrations add to the charm of the book and the author’s explanations give a very clear understanding of the times when these tales were written.

Some of the authors featured in this collection are William Makepeace Thackery of Vanity Fair fame and Oscar Wilde, whose tale The Selfish Giant breaks away from the unique style Wilde is known for. Kenneth Grahame’s favourite, The Reluctant Dragon portrays compassion and simplicity. It’s a story of a poetry loving dragon, who becomes friends with a little boy. When the townsfolk discover the dragon, they send for St. George, the dragon slayer. The little boy introduces the dragon to St. George, who then stages a fake joust. The dragon feigns injury and St. George pronounces him reformed and the townspeople accept the dragon happily and let him stay in the town.

An interesting read if you have nothing else to read or just for the sake of nostalgia!!!!!! The literary genius of these well known authors reflects beautifully in these simple tales.

Michael Newton  is the author of Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children (Faber, 2002), Age of Assassins: A History of Conspiracy and Poltical Violence, 1865-1981 (Faber, 2012) and a book on Kind Hearts and Coronets for the BFI Film Classics series. He has edited Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son for Oxford World’s Classics, and The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories and Conrad’s The Secret Agent for Penguin. He has written and reviewed for the Times Literary SupplementLondon Review of Books, the New Statesman, and  The Guardian.

 

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This entry was posted on August 13, 2015 by in Book Reviews, Fiction and tagged , , , , .
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