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The Fairies Return, or New Tales for Old

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A satirical and modern retelling of beloved fairy tales Originally issued in 1934, The Fairies Return was the first collection of modernist fairy tales ever published in England, and it marked the arrival of a satirical classic that has never been surpassed. Even today, this reimagining of fourteen timeless tales--from Puss in Boots to Little Red Riding Hood--is still fresh A satirical and modern retelling of beloved fairy tales Originally issued in 1934, The Fairies Return was the first collection of modernist fairy tales ever published in England, and it marked the arrival of a satirical classic that has never been surpassed. Even today, this reimagining of fourteen timeless tales--from Puss in Boots to Little Red Riding Hood--is still fresh and bold, giving readers a world steeped not in once upon a time, but in the here and now. Longtime favorites in this playfully subversive collection are retold for modern times and mature sensibilities. In Jack the Giant Killer, Jack becomes a trickster who must deliver England from the hands of three ogres after a failed government inquiry. Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is set in contemporary London and the world of financial margins and mergers. In The Little Mermaid, a young Canadian girl with breathtaking swimming skills is lured by the temptations of Hollywood. And Cinderella becomes a spinster and holy woman, creating a very different happily ever after. These tales expose social anxieties, political corruption, predatory economic behavior, and destructive appetites even as they express hope for a better world. A new introduction from esteemed fairy-tale scholar Maria Tatar puts the collection in context. From stockbrokers and socialites to shopkeepers and writers, the characters in The Fairies Return face contemporary challenges while living in the magical world of fairy tales.


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A satirical and modern retelling of beloved fairy tales Originally issued in 1934, The Fairies Return was the first collection of modernist fairy tales ever published in England, and it marked the arrival of a satirical classic that has never been surpassed. Even today, this reimagining of fourteen timeless tales--from Puss in Boots to Little Red Riding Hood--is still fresh A satirical and modern retelling of beloved fairy tales Originally issued in 1934, The Fairies Return was the first collection of modernist fairy tales ever published in England, and it marked the arrival of a satirical classic that has never been surpassed. Even today, this reimagining of fourteen timeless tales--from Puss in Boots to Little Red Riding Hood--is still fresh and bold, giving readers a world steeped not in once upon a time, but in the here and now. Longtime favorites in this playfully subversive collection are retold for modern times and mature sensibilities. In Jack the Giant Killer, Jack becomes a trickster who must deliver England from the hands of three ogres after a failed government inquiry. Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is set in contemporary London and the world of financial margins and mergers. In The Little Mermaid, a young Canadian girl with breathtaking swimming skills is lured by the temptations of Hollywood. And Cinderella becomes a spinster and holy woman, creating a very different happily ever after. These tales expose social anxieties, political corruption, predatory economic behavior, and destructive appetites even as they express hope for a better world. A new introduction from esteemed fairy-tale scholar Maria Tatar puts the collection in context. From stockbrokers and socialites to shopkeepers and writers, the characters in The Fairies Return face contemporary challenges while living in the magical world of fairy tales.

30 review for The Fairies Return, or New Tales for Old

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sassafras Lowrey

    Read this book for school - wansn't impressed my mistake I hadn't realized it had been originally written/compiled in 1934 Read this book for school - wansn't impressed my mistake I hadn't realized it had been originally written/compiled in 1934

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lois

    What, for several generations now, have come to be regarded as the entertaining fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, were, in reality, concerted attempts by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm to capture the capricious and often cruel folktales that had been an inherent part of Germanic oral tradition for centuries. The acerbic nature of wit that is intrinsic to these tales makes it of little wonder that such a genre could lend itself to transformation into modern-day critique of contemporary society, in the What, for several generations now, have come to be regarded as the entertaining fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, were, in reality, concerted attempts by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm to capture the capricious and often cruel folktales that had been an inherent part of Germanic oral tradition for centuries. The acerbic nature of wit that is intrinsic to these tales makes it of little wonder that such a genre could lend itself to transformation into modern-day critique of contemporary society, in the form of what, potentially, could be the harshest and most revealing of all forms of present-day humor, namely satire. However, in The Fairies Return, Or, New Tales for Old, a compilation of fifteen fairy tales (of which only one, E. Arnot Robertson’s “Dick Whittington”, is excluded from the present volume for copyright reasons) transformed into a vehicle of satire under the guidance of Peter Davies, the adopted son of the playwright J.M. Barrie, such satire is rendered both extremely accessible and palatable through his involvement of fifteen contemporary writers who were noted “expert observers of modern British manners and mores”. The ‘modern’ refers to the 1930’s, which is the decade in which the present work was first produced—not to its detriment, I might add, as the decade in question was a key turning point for the history not only of Britain or Europe, but for the entire world, as it experienced the aftermath of the Great War, and witnessed the burgeoning power of Hitler’s tyrannical grasp on Europe, with its gross violation of human rights and dignity. Needless to say, many of the issues that troubled any sound person’s thinking at the time are very much those that beset our present-day psyche, so the relevance of The Fairies Return is in no way to be doubted. Faced by the increasing disenchantment with modern mores and the rising rationalism that permeated society at the time, Davies recognized the need for a refurbishing of the old (fairy lore) with the new (a critical approach to society that might revitalize flagging spirits and help to reformulate social systems that had outstayed their time). The result was The Fairies Return, Or, New Tales for Old. As the esteemed folklorist and leading Harvard academic Maria Tatar, who provides a new introduction to the work, states: “Fairy tales have always had the capacity to puncture bourgeois propriety and speak truth to power even as they fuel our fantasies and fears. In this volume too, they are double duty bound”. Tatar provides incisive insights into not only the function and structure of fairy tales in general, but embarks on an exciting and revealing exploration of the significance of each tale, forming a widely drawn corpus comprised of a representative sampling of the aforementioned tales of the Brothers Grimm, The Thousand and One Nights, Charles Perrault’s The Tales of Mother Goose, British fairy tales and the writings of Hans Christian Andersen—an eclectic mix, to be sure. She ends the introduction by considering the personal and professional life of Peter Davies, including an entrancing description of his childhood, of which much was spent in the imaginatively enriched Kensington Gardens and played out at Barrie’s country retreat, Black Lake Cottage.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Originally published in 1934, The Fairies Return or, New Tales for Old was the first volume of modernist fairytales printed in Great Britain. Peter Llewelyn Davies, the adoptive son of famous author J.M. Barrie, was its original compiler. The stories in the collection have been ‘retold for modern times and mature sensibilities’, and all of them serve to ‘expose social anxieties, political corruption, predatory economic behaviour, and destructive appetites’. This beautifully produced reissue, publ Originally published in 1934, The Fairies Return or, New Tales for Old was the first volume of modernist fairytales printed in Great Britain. Peter Llewelyn Davies, the adoptive son of famous author J.M. Barrie, was its original compiler. The stories in the collection have been ‘retold for modern times and mature sensibilities’, and all of them serve to ‘expose social anxieties, political corruption, predatory economic behaviour, and destructive appetites’. This beautifully produced reissue, published by Princeton University Press and part of the ‘Oddly Modern Fairy Tales’ series, features an illustration on its front cover which dates back to 1939. It is an extremely well laid out volume, and its introduction and author biographies make lovely additions to the book. The introduction to the volume has been written by Maria Tatar, chair of the program in Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University. Her introduction is both informative and rather extensive, and spans Britain’s growing interest in fairytales, which she considers to be ‘an indigenous body of lore’. Indeed, says Tatar, Davies’ book focuses upon ‘the promise of what “satire” originally meant… a mixture of different things blended to suit discerning tastes’. The stories featured are written by a wide variety of different authors, all of whom were prominent in the 1930s. These range from the recognisable E.M. Delafield, Eric Linklater and Christina Stead, to those who deserve more modern day recognition for their work. Davies commissioned each of the stories himself from writers he both knew and trusted, creating what Tatar deems to be a ‘rich mosaic of stories’. Each author has taken a traditional text from sources such as Perrault’s fairytales or those of the Brothers Grimm, and has based their own upon it. The tales themselves, fourteen in all, are diverse and take a vast range of different tales as their foundations. They have marvellous twists and turns throughout. The bare bones of the original stories are recognisable, but the authors have certainly been inventive with their retellings. Clemence Dane’s story, based on ‘Godfather Death’ by the Brothers Grimm, has been set in ‘the smallest and oldest of Devon villages’ during the influenza epidemic; Aladdin, a ‘brisk, rosy little man’ is an undertaker in a ‘dour Scottish township’; and a version of ‘The Little Mermaid’ is set in a French-speaking province of Canada. A.E. Coppard’s rather inventive descriptions of giants, ‘all intent on saving the country’ in ‘Jack the Giant Killer’, with ‘their faces resembling Big Ben’, work wonderfully: ‘whenever one of them took a pinch of snuff and sneezed, the metropolis for a moment was in a shower of rain’. Some of the stories are certainly stronger than others, but the social history included in each tale is a wonderful touch throughout. This is a collection of tales which certainly deserved a reprint, and will delight lovers of fairytales, nostalgia, British history and short stories alike.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Periale

    http://xoxoxoe.blogspot.com/2012/12/t... "Originally published in 1934, the stories reflect the anxieties of life in post-World War I Britain. Many of the tales have a decidedly adult spin, with sex, romance, drugs, and crime making an appearance, but most retain the humor and earthiness of their original inspirations. The Fairies Return is both an entertaining read and a fascinating look at an era's adult take on the timeless tales that children are still being reared on today." http://xoxoxoe.blogspot.com/2012/12/t... "Originally published in 1934, the stories reflect the anxieties of life in post-World War I Britain. Many of the tales have a decidedly adult spin, with sex, romance, drugs, and crime making an appearance, but most retain the humor and earthiness of their original inspirations. The Fairies Return is both an entertaining read and a fascinating look at an era's adult take on the timeless tales that children are still being reared on today."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marcia

    gotta love any reinterpretations fo classic fairy tales!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

  7. 4 out of 5

    Catie

  8. 5 out of 5

    JosephineBookwyrm

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  10. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Butler

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Ferris

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ava Jaunzems

  13. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rozzer

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Gough

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Tesch

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aileen Kim

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stockfish

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe Snyder

  23. 5 out of 5

    Helene Hauglund

  24. 5 out of 5

    Robert Costic

  25. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

  26. 5 out of 5

    Middlethought

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robert Stacey

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Shapiro

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pilar

  30. 4 out of 5

    Denise

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