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Unregistered User
(3/9/01 12:47:07 pm)
Fairy tale library
If you could only have 10 books of fairy and folk tales in your library,
what would you choose? This could include anything out-of-print as
well as current material. I've become extremely interested and
engrossed by fairy and folk tales and am wondering what you might
suggest. This board seems so knowledgeable and willing to answer
questions, I thought I might pose mine.

I've been a fan of Terri Windling's work for years, and through her
work, have found most of my favorite authors. What a treat to
discover a board where they all, plus other wonderful people,
discuss one of my favorite topics.

Francene Lewis

Unregistered User
(3/9/01 2:12:50 pm)

Your question is a particularly difficult one, especially for this crowd! 10 books?!! Only 10??? A while back we tried to ask what ten would you take if shipwrecked on a deserted island--and all I can tell you is that it quickly became obvious that the reason the boat sank in the first place was because all had like 30 of our most favorite ten books. (by the way, Heidi, is that thread still available? I remember scribbling down unknown titles but can't find that list anywhere!) whittle it down to ten...aish. I'll try, but I'm going to have to look at my huge book case and pretend to ignore quite a few of them. (but thanks for the question! I love seeing what other people hold dear.)

Unregistered User
(3/9/01 2:19:02 pm)
Sorry about misspelling your name! When I saw my post I winced at my error!

Heidi Anne Heiner
(3/9/01 6:48:04 pm)
Re: correction

That discussion appeared on Christine Daae's first board that was hosted on her site. It has disappeared along with her site. I know it has to be one of my top ten favorites of all of our discussions because there was such an interesting bunch of books listed. I think we might revisit it again here. Besides, believe it or not, the discussion was almost a year ago (started in April or May 2000) and we all might have some additions to bump the number from 30 to 40. In fact, I think we could probably build the desert island out of the books we want to have with us.


If you are wanting to build a more traditional collection of fairy tale anthologies, I have a short list of some of the most important collections.

1. A Grimms collection. I would get a well-translated one, perhaps from Jack Zipes, for example. There are other great translators but I am too tired too look at their names right now.

2. A collection of French tales, such as "Beauties, Beasts and Enchantment" edited by Jack Zipes. This book is also known as "Beauty and the Beast and other Stories" in its abbreviated paperback edition. Zipes includes Perrault's tales such as "Sleeping Beauty," "Puss in Boots," and "Cinderella." You will also get "Beauty and the Beast" and several other tales from many women who wrote and created fairy tales.

3. Il Pentamerone by Gimbattista Basile. There are several translators of this. My favorite edition was edited by Beneditto Croce (if I am spelling his name right). This gives you the earliest Italian tales. A collection of Italo Calvino's "Italian Folktales" is also important.

4. A collection of Russian Tales by Afanasyev. He will acquaint you with Baba Yaga, an important fairy tale figure.

5. A Norwegian collection by Asbjornsen and Moe. This will insure you have "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" as well as "The Three Billy Goats Gruff."

6. A good African collection. Midori will probably be able to tell her favorites better than I can. I am still building my knowledge with the Far East and African folk tales.

7. You might also consider a collection of American folklore such as Kemp Battle's "Great American Folklore."

8. A collection of Hans Christian Andersen to get "Ugly Duckling," "Little Mermaid," and the like.

9. A collection of Arabian Nights. A recent favorite translation is by Haddawy.

My favorite "world" collections include:

Joanna Cole's "Best Loved Folktales of the World."

Jane Yolen's "Favorite Folktales from Around the World."

Peter and Iona Opie's "The Classic Fairy Tales"

Stith Thompson's "101 Favorite Folktales"

Andrew Lang's "Blue Fairy Book" because everyone still refers to this one so often although none of the tales here are different from what can be found in the collections listed above.

Of course, none of these collections are greatly illustrated and that would be a whole other category to choose books for their illustrations.

Now that doesn't even enter into the modern retellings and more obscure collections. But these books have the tales and themes which appear most often in the English speaking world. Reading and knowing these tales will increase your enjoyment of the modern retellings including so many wonderful authors.

Pantheon and Dover are two of the more frequent and respected publishers of traditional fairy tale collections. I have never had a reason to complain much about any of their books, except their availability in paperback, instead of hardbound as I prefer.

Registered User
(3/11/01 7:59:18 am)
Modern fairy tales
It's a pity that last list disappeared with Christine's site. We didn't restrict ourselves to fairy tale books in our desert island list, did we? But for modern adult fairy tale retellings, since Heidi has already listed an excellent shelf of original sources, here's my list. I'm confining the list to books that *weren't* published under a fantasy label, because I've edited so many of those over the years that it would be awkward to pick favorites there. (Though I will say that as far as fine contemporary fantasy fiction is concerned, I consider Patricia A. McKillip the reigning goddess.) Someone else will have to do the fantasy list (and a young adult fiction list too.)

10 favorite works of modern adult fairy tale/folklore fiction

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
She's the faery godmother of the whole modern adult fairy tale field, as far as I'm concerned. If anyone hasn't yet read these wicked, delicious sensual and exquisitely crafted stories, stop reading this board and go to a library immediately.

Transformations by Ann Sexton
What Carter did for modern adult fairy tale prose, Sexton did for modern adult fairy tale poetry. This collection is a classic.

The Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Wry, magical, and beautifully written stories (many of them first published in The New Yorker, of all places) about the fairy kingdoms of Britain and Brittany. Absolutely delightful.

Possession by A.S. Byatt
A gorgeous reworking of the "Glass Coffin" and "Melusine" fairy tales, with other fairy tale (and Victorian) themes.

Memories of My Ghost Brother by Heinz Insu Fenkl
A "magical realist" memoir of a German-American/Korean boy (the author) growing up caught between cultures in Korea. The author is a skilled folklorist, and folklore is wound throughout the text. It's a gorgeous book.

Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins by Emma Donoghue
Highly original re-tellings of classic fairy tales, with a feminist twist, by a terrific Irish writer

The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf by Katheryn Davis
A wickedly smart book that uses the fairy tale of the title to talk about women's lives (and opera) at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Antelope Wife by Louis Erdrich
Uses the folktales and legends of "urban Indians" in Minneapolis to create a moving, and extremely magical, modern novel about love, family, community, and the power of stories.

Sisters of the Heart by Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni
It's not a retelling of a specific fairy tale, but it weaves fairy tales into a wonderful contemporary story about two cousins growing up in modern Bombay.

Little, Big by John Crowley
This was first published as mainstream fiction, not fantasy, so I'm going to list it here. One of the greatest books ever on Victorian ideas about folklore and spiritualism, brought into a modern context.

There are a lot of other favorites that didn't quite make it into the top 10 list, of course -- Margaret Atwood's fiction; Sara Maitland's short stories; Alfredo Vea Jr. and other hispanic magical realists whose work is infused with folklore imagery; poets like Olga Broumas and Liz Lochhead, etc. etc. And I admit a personal bias toward works by and about women. I like the fairy tale fiction of men like Robert Coover, John Gardner, etc., but it wouldn't end up on a desert island with me.

And along with all these books, I'd want to bring at least two books *about* fairy tales: Kate's collection of essays, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, and Marina Warner's From the Beast to the Blonde.

(P.S. Francene, thanks for your kind words about my work.)

Edited by: Terri at: 3/11/01 8:09:56 am

Laura McCaffrey
Registered User
(3/11/01 9:22:47 am)
Re: Fairy tale library

So I found doing this incredibly hard. I included both novel-length retellings and fantasy books with fairy and folklore woven into them. I limited myself just to books using fairy or folklore marketed as children/ya novels. I leave a picture book list to someone else.

Iím cheating because Iím listing by author. Many books are part of a series. Please, donít make me choose. Also this is a highly idiosyncratic list, based more on my preferences than a larger category of ďgreatĒ fairy and folklore stories.

J. R. R. Tolkein - The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I revisit them every five to ten years and couldnít live without them.

Ursula LeGuin - her Wizard of Earthsea trilogy with the fourth book, Tehanu. Another series I revisit and could not live without.

Robin McKinley -I adore both Beauty and the Beast tales, as well as The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. I havenít read her most recent retelling of the Sleeping Beauty.

Patricia McKillip - I won't limit myself here.

Donna Jo Napoli - particulary Zel and Crazy Jack.

Eloise McGraw - The Moor Child. I can't get this tale about fairy changelings out of my head.

Gloria Whalen Turner - The Thief. A fantasy adventure which uses Greek folklore and mythology.

Frannie Billingsley - The Folk Keeper. A fabulous selchie tale. That the Newbery Committe entirely overlooked this book astounds me.

The last two spots I canít decide on. Philip Pullmanís first two books in the His Dark Materials series are favorites, but I have not yet read the third. Harry Potter of course would provide much entertainment. It certainly owes a great deal to fairy tale witches - no matter what some say about the books being about Satan worship. I also adore Susan Cooperís The Dark is Rising series as well as Susan Fletcherís Dragonwings series. And then there is Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series....

Sorry this list is so Western European oriented. And thank goodness no one is truly proposing to send me to a desert island! Laura Mc

Edited by: Laura McCaffrey at: 4/2/01 3:53:43 pm

Unregistered User
(3/12/01 7:05:28 am)
fairy tale list
Hello, all. I've been lurking and not posting (bad me), life has just been so darn busy. My dear sick husband, I'm pleased to say, is finally out of real danger, but it will be some months before we get him home and I catch this board only on the fly between work, hospital, taking care of the children. But I can't resist the challenge of desert island lists, so here's my two cents on the fantasy part of it. There are SO many good adult fairy tale books published as fantasy that I hope others will post their own lists of favorites too. Here are mine.

1. The "Snow White, Blood Red" anthologies edited by Datlow & Windling.
These are 6 whole volumes of fine adult fairy tale short stories, and thus have to top my list.

2.The Innamorati by Midori Snyder
A very magical - and bawdy - novel that makes excellent use Italian fairy tale and myths. I adore this book - and no, Midori didn't pay me to say that!

3. Porcelain Dove by Delia Sherman
A dry, sly, wonderfully understated historical novel that plays with French salon fairy tales and issues of gender, class, sexuality.

4. Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip
A very poetic re-working of the Tam Lin fairy tale and ballad. McKillip's language is the very essence of fairy tales.

5. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
A short, simple, yet powerful novel about the Polish concentration camps of World War II, wrapped around the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.

6. Sleeping in Flame by Jonathan Carroll
A very perverse modern interpretation of Rumplestiltskin, set in Vienna.

7. Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
A more contemporary re-working of Tam Lin, set on a midwestern collage campus in the Seventies.
I found this novel eccentric and endearing.

8. Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner
A lyrical, sensual retelling of this folk tale/folk ballad, with underlying themes about the nature of truth and of artistic creation. This lady knows her folk material, and boy can she write.

9. Red as Blood by Tanith Lee
Lee was one of the first people in the fantasy genre to work extensively with fairy tales. This collection of adult fairy tale short stories came out back in the Seventies, so I consider it as ground-breaker.

10. The Armless Maiden edited by Terri Windling
A heart-breaking collection of stories and poems based on fairy tales and focused on the subject of child abuse. Many of the above writers are in it.

I'm leaving off some favorites here that are permeated in myth and yet don't retell specific tales, such as Robert Holdstock's "Mythago Wood" sequence, Terri Windling's "The Wood Wife" and long story "The Color of Angels," recent books by Sean Stewart, and much more. And I hope we're all stranded on that desert island together, so we can read each others books!

- Jenna

Registered User
(3/12/01 7:29:08 am)
10 golden bells
1. The Armless Maiden (edited by Terri) would have to top my list - my copy is all scrumpled from reading and re-reading. Catharsis, anyone?

2. Any book by Elizabeth Cunningham would come next - perhaps Spin Gold, which is a retelling of Rumplestiltskin in which the heroine - the Rumplestiltskin figure - is a midwife.

3. The Last Unicorn, by Peter Beagle, would come after that, though I'd sneak his A Fine and Private Place in there, too (I'll hide it under my raincoat so whoever is counting our ten books won't see it)

4. Little, Big would have to come too. It makes me THINK.

5. The Rose and the Ring, by Thackeray, would certainly accompany me to any desert island. It has a spoiled princess Angelica, a wicked Countess Gruffanuff, a valiant heroine Betsinda, and a young swain named Giglio. Plus it takes place in Paflagonia.

6. Along those lines, I'd also have to bring The Chronicles of Pantouflia, the author of which I can't recall at the moment.

7. A Barrel Of Laughs, A Vale Of Tears (Jules Feiffer) would have to come too. "Roger trekked onward. Trek, trek, trek."

8. Kissing the Witch, by Emma Donoghue. For the same reason as The Armless Maiden.

9. The Antelope Wife, by Louise Erdrich. Because it's powerful.

10. Tonto and the Lone Ranger Fistfight In Heaven, by Sherman Alexie. It's not fairytale persay, but, like The Antelope Wife, it uses the structures and some elements of folktales to present a world that is at once ragingly painful, very funny, and beautifu in the way a dead tree is beautiful.

Registered User
(3/12/01 8:00:23 am)
Re: Fairy tale library
Oh good heavens. Well, at the risk of blurring the lines between folklore, fantasy, fairy tales and "other"...

[1] Little, Big by John Crowley - Though the first time I read it I couldn't have been older than thirteen and it took me nearly two whole months to fully digest every paragraph; this book consumed me. I couldn't be without a copy.

[2] The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson - I'm actually not finished reading this one yet, so I suppose a number of things could happen in it to throw off my interest. But it seems to be one of the better books I've read this year... one of the few books, too, that I've had such an enjoyable time *reading*. I don't turn the page to find out what happens next, like in so many books; I turn the page to full my head with more of her poetic prose...

[3] Not Wanted On The Voyage by Timothy Findley - I don't know if this one is very topical... Tim FIndley retells the story of Noah's Arc here. The book is largely from the perspecitive of Mrs. Noah and her Cat - something of a familiar. Tim Findley really is one of Canada's legendary novelists, and it shows here as much as anywhere. He's funny, insightful and has a comforting authorial voice. And this was a story that I really did want to read *another* take on...

[4] The Innamorati by Midori Snyder - I bought this one because the cover was pretty, and because I have an insatiable thirst for historical fantasy without the sort of "fantasy" or "magical" elements that club you over the head. I could not have been more satisfied! Right from the opening sequence I felt as if I were reading a sort of epic shakespearian comedy of errors. I was determined mid way through the book to move to Italy and begin a roving band of travelling Comedia Del Art preformers. I adore inspiring books.

[5] Tam Lin by Pamela Dean - actually, this book just made me wish I had cooler friends in University. I sort of read it over when I need to pretend my university days *were* all that.

[6] 100 Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - I was stricken right from the get go by Garcia's ability to keep you wondering what's real and what isn't. Or even if it matters. The first quarter of the book had be re-evaluating the time period every five pages. I went from "Oh, it must be fifteenth century spain" to "um, I think it's 20th century south america....but...." Excellent read, this one.

[7] The Once And Future King by T. White - I think this counts as folklore of fairy tale depending on what your opinion is of the Arthurian Legend. What a great read, though. Again, I love White's authorial voice- like Tolkein, he's comforting to read, like the idealized grandfather reading you a book. And his offhand comparisons to Mallory's version are hilarious as well as informative. Anyway.

[8] Stardust, by Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess - I haven't read Gaiman's novel version yet.... but the graphic novel is one of the greatest works of both of theirs that I have laid hands on. It does true justice to fairy tales and what the older ones feel like, without losing the humour and personality of the rest of Gaiman's writing.

[9] Someplace to be Flying by Charles De Lint - I felt Charles de Lint deserved a place on my list, since he's one of the few authors who's works I seek out religiously. I suppose this one is sort of folklorey. (hee, folk lorey. I want a folk lorey...) In any case, it's one of my favorites.

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