Monday, August 14, 2017

Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales of Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World edited by Maria Tatar

Finally picked up this book, which I got aaaaalllllll the way back in June when I went back to Singapore. I've been 'saving' it for no particular reason and I can sort of see why. This was a good read and the anticipation of reading it made it even better.

(Also I just found out that NLB has an ecopy but I love that I have my own. Some books you just want to own)

Anyway, this collection of stories really is from around the world. Apart from the usual Western suspects, I saw stories from India, Japan, Ghana, Myanmar and much more. The only (to me really obvious) country that was left out was China. I mean, how can you miss Madame White Snake or any number of tales about humans and foxes? But I digress.

The stories are organised by topic, and they are:

1. Model couples from ancient times

2. Charismatic couples in the popular imagination

3. Animal grooms

4. Animal brides

The first two categories had tales that were familiar to me, but most of the stories in the latter two categories weren't. I enjoyed them all.

What makes this book stand out from other collections is the introduction! There is a very interesting introduction by Maria Tatar, covering things like classification, background to the tales and what they mean to humans. And there is a one-paragraph introduction to each tale, which provided background and a little bit of commentary without any spoilers.

If you are a fan of fairy tales, you will want a copy of this book. Apart from the introductions, there is real value in being able to read and compare tales like this from a variety of cultures. They show that we aren't as different as we might think (although obviously we aren't all identical because that would be boring)


  1. I would love to have a copy of this one for my personal library too. What a great collection! I like that it provides insight into stories from around the world. We can see how similar and different they are.


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