The fairy tales of Perraultstories that are known and loved around the worldare now available in this scintillating paperback edition, with twenty-six stunning illustrations by Gustave Doré. The superb translation by Christopher Betts exactly captures the tone and flavor of Perrault's world, and the delightful spirit of the originals. In addition to the classic prose talesincluding The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, Little Red Riding-Hood, Bluebeard, Puss in Boots, Cinderella, and Hop o' my Thumbthis new translation adds Perrault's tales in verse: a long poem on the subject of Patient Griselda; the notorious Donkey-Skin; and the comic Three Silly Wishes. Bett's introduction deftly illuminates why in Perrault's hands these humble fairy tales have such great imaginative power, showing how they transmute into vivid fantasies the hidden fears and conflicts by which children are affectedfears of abandonment, conflicts with siblings and parentsand resolve so satisfactorily the problems experienced by children while growing up. The volume also includes appendices on related tales and selected variants, a bibliography, chronology, and notes.
Perrault's tales are well known (e.g., "Sleeping Beauty," "Cinderella," and "Little Red Riding Hood"), but they are most often reprinted singly within anthologies. This new translation and collection of the tales in one volume is especially useful for serious students of the folk tale, though it is also billed by the publisher as a gift edition. In his strong introduction, retired French professor Betts presents a biography, cultural background, and brief analytical comments, Freudian and otherwise. Three verse tales ("Griselda," "Donkey-Skin," and "Three Silly Wishes") are translated as poetry rather than prose for the first time in English, Betts believes. Explanatory notes deal with problematic cultural and language issues, and an appendix covers Aarne-Thompson-Uther and other classifications and related literature. The 19th-century illustrations by Doré (some of them gruesome) add to the gift quality of this collection, but it is not for the very young, even if read aloud. VERDICT Decidedly scholarly in tone, this will best serve those in an academic context. For the translation alone, it is worthy of purchase, even for libraries already holding a collection of Perrault tales.—Katherine Koenig, Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh