Once upon a Couch:
Interpreting Fairy Tales
Books on what do they mean?

This shelf in Hatter's Classics is stocked with books attempting to analyze fairy tales. Feel free to print out a copy of this for reference. Browse through the titles. Look for them at your local library or bookstore. For information concerning price, availability, and if desired, a convenient purchase, follow any of the linked titles, a service of Eldrbarry's Story Telling Page in association with Amazon.com Books.
  • Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie and Folklore in the Literature of Childhood by Jane Yolen
    (August House, 2001) ISDN 0874835917

    This book of essays by a noted children's writer helped turn me on to the wonders of stories - and I am so glad to see it back in print with an additional six essays! It is a book you will read over again and again and each time you will gain new insights and inspiration into what gives stories their magic. Like Sawyer's Way of the Storyteller, it is a book written with a love for the stories, both old and new, that touch a child's heart and remain with there long into adult years reflecting on their timesless value. It is no wonder this volume is so frequently quoted!

  • Picturing the Rose: A Way of Looking at Fairy Tales by Marcia Lane (H.W.Wilson 1994)

    This book is a delightful collection of essays. Discussing the nature and elements of Fairytales without getting into detailed analysis of psychological aspects, it also offers seven multicultural tales, each prepared for telling in a different manner. Probably one of the best books for the casual reader and teller.

  • The Classic Fairy Tales : Texts, Criticism (Norton Critical Edition) by Maria M. Tatar (Editor) (Norton 1998)

    She gives a variety of texts of well known fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Cinderella, Bluebeard, Hansel and Gretel--and discusses 4 by Hans Christian Andersen and 3 by Oscar Wilde). She also has a section for criticism, with examples from Bruno Bettelheim, Marina Warner, Jack Zipes, Maria Tatar, Vladimir Propp and others not as well known. The author also wrote The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales and Off With Their Heads! : Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood.

  • The Fairy Tale: The Magic Mirror of Imagination by Steven Swann Jones (Twayne Publishers, 1995)

    A series of essays on the nature and types of fairytales classified around the main characters. Jones guides the reader in understanding and appreciating the genre's origins and its evolution synthesizes the various approaches - psychological, sociohistorical, and formalist taken by scholars studying the form; and isolates five key characteristics distinguishing the fairy tale from related forms of folk narrative, such as myths and legends.

  • Old Tales and New Truths: Charting the Bright ~ Shadow World by James Roy King (State University of New York Press, 1992)

    An recent and scholarly attempt to discover the significance and meaning of fairytales by looking at inner meanings. Fairly deep reading.

  • Fairy Tales and After: From Snow White to E.B. White by Roger Sale (Harvard University Press,1978)

    This volume looks at the heritage of fairytales as it has been developed in more modern children's literature.

  • Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales, Children, and the Culture Industry by Jack David Zipes

    Judging by this author's other books this should be a very helpful volume on understanding the role and misuse of fairytales by modern media. Also by the same author is Fairy Tale As Myth Myth As Fairy Tale (The Thomas D. Clark Lectures : 1993) Jack Zipes has written or edited a number of excenent volumes on varients of fairytales, so do an Author Search on Amazon.com for his other titles. His most recent edited volume is The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales, an encyclopaedia. The book explores the tales, ancient and modern, the writers who wrote and reworked them and the artists who illustrated them, and related topics such as film, art, opera, ballet, music, even advertising. Zipes has forged a career out of brilliant and subversive analyses of fairy tales. Another new book is When Dreams Come True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition From the rise of the literary fairy tale in seventeenth-century France to the truly ancient Arabian Nights tales; the lives of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, with Chapters on Oscar Wilde, Frank Baum, Collodi (Pinocchio), the now-forgotten Frank Stockton, and Herman Hesse, Zipes manages "Intelligent and thoughtful fun, without deconstructing the land of Faerie into dust and ashes."

  • Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales : by Kate Bernheimer (Editor)

    Margaret Atwood, Francine Prose, and Fay Weldon are among the 24 contemporary women authors in Mirror, Mirror on the Wall who contribute lucid, powerful essays on the fears, morals, and archetypes fairy tales scrawl out in letters ten-feet tall. They discuss, in poetic narratives, evocative personal histories, and philosophical inquiries, how the tales included here affected their thinking about emotion, self, gender and culture. In these pages, you will find narratives on self-image, spiritual biographical journeys, and wary inspections of fairy tales' influence.

  • A Wolf at the Door: And Other Retold Fairy Tales by Ellen Datlow (Editor)

    Irreverent, poetic, and thrillingly evil, these new versions of classic fairy tales are less comic and playful than the fractured fairy-tale picture books for younger readers. Many of these thirteen retellings are contemporary, set in the city and the schoolyard as well as the dark woods, with lots of evil stepmoms and rivalrous siblings.

  • From the Beast to the Blonde : On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers by Marina Warner

    Opening with the observation that "storytelling makes women thrive -- and not exclusively women," and then lifting the veil on both tellers and tales ranging from Sibyl to the late, great Angela Carter, from Lot's daughters to Disney's "Little Mermaid,." the celebrated cultural critic Marina Warner looks at storytelling in art and legend-from the prophesying enchantress who lures men to a false paradise, to jolly Mother Goose with her masqueraders in the real world. Why are storytellers so often women, and how does that affect the status of fairy tales? Are they a source of wisdom or a misleading temptation to indulge in romancing? Also by this author: Six Myths of Our Time: Little Angels, Little Monsters, Beautiful Beasts, and More and No Go The Bogeyman : Scaring, Lulling, and Making Mock.

  • Once Upon a Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales by Max Luthi (Indiana University Press, 1976)

    One of the standard books on the interpretation of fairytales, this Swiss scholar saw the folktale as a advanced form of oral literature that could have originated in a shamanic dream or fantasy. While opening the door to psychological interpretations, he did not make such. Also by this author: The European Folktale: Form and Nature (1986) and The Fairytale as Art Form and Portrait of Man (1984)

  • The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettelheim (Random House, 1977)

    Probably the standard book on the subject of psychoanalyzing fairytales - it reads Freudian symbolism into them. Reading a lot of sexual meanings into the stories, this is not for children, or those who wish to keep their childlike love for the old tales. Bettelheim was strong advocate for the value of fairytales in a child's growing self awareness. It has been a very significant book in the study of interpreting fairytales and for that reason has stayed in print for two decades.

  • The Interpretation of Fairy Tales by Marie-Louise Von Franz

    This revised edition paperback takes a Jungian approach to the psychological interpretation of fairytales, and was published in 1996. Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) felt myths expressed universal aspects of human personality that have not yet become conscious and are composed of "Archetypes" (universal symbols) which are the elements of folk and fairy tales.

  • Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

    This work sets forth Joseph Campbell's thesis that the various ethnic myths and stories of mankind in it's many cultures have common roots and origins that lie behind the myths that shape us. Also using a Jungian approach, he sees myths as fulfilling unrealized psychological needs - nurturing and discovering the latent and unknown side of the psyche.

  • The Writer's Journey : Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler, 2nd edition (November 1998) and Myth and the Movies : Discovering the Mythic Structure of 50 Unforgettable Films by Stuart Voytilla and Christopher Vogler (October 1999)

    At the beginning of The Writer's Journey, Christopher Vogler asserts that "all stories consist of a few common structural elements found universally in myths, fairy tales, dreams, and movies." Drawing from Joseph Campbell it sets forth archetypes common in what Vogler calls "the hero's journey," the mythic structure that he claims all stories follow. In the book's first section, he lists the different kinds of typological characters who appear in stories. In the second, he discusses the stages of the journey through which the hero generally passes. The final supplimentary portion of the book explains in detail how films like Titanic and The Full Monty follow the patterns he has outlined. A second book, Myth and the Movies serves both as a sequel to that book and a series of examples attempting to demonstrate its validity. Voytilla breaks this journey up into stages, using 50 famous films to illustrate the universality of Vogler's method. During the course of the book, he unpacks the mythic structure of horror, war, drama, romance, comedy, science fiction, action-adventure, the western, and the thriller, drawing on films as diverse as Seven Samurai, The Silence of the Lambs, Annie Hall, and Boyz N the Hood. His charts, maps, and consideration of various archetypal characters ("the shadow," "the trickster," "the herald," "the shapeshifter") and narrative devices ("the elixir," "the adventure," "the threshold," "the road back") provide a clear picture of how Campbell's archetypes can be used for film analysis.

  • Politically Correct Bedtime Storiesand Once upon a More Enlightened Time : More Politically Correct Fairy Tales by James Finn Garner

    Written somewhat "tongue in cheek" these books are more an expose of our culture's shallowness and fear of giving offense (at the great expense of the tales we have long loved), than an interpretation. Also Available in cassette and CD's.

  • Don't Tell the Grown-Ups : The Subversive Power of Children's Literature by Alison Lurie (2000)

    In this excellent overview, Lurie points out the subtle ways that many classic children's authors such as Barrie, Burnett, Milne, Nesbit, and Carroll embedded social criticism within their stories. Lurie has a smooth, intelligent style, and a refreshing dry wit that sets this book apart from much literary criticism.

  • The Ordinary and the Fabulous: An Introduction to Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales by Elizabeth Cook

    This book deals with telling the Greek, Northern European and Arthurian myths and legends to children ages 8 to 14. The second edition, done in 1976, covers critically various versions of the stories and presents some practical guidelines for researching and telling these tales. Ms Cook is more concerned with appropriate presentations for young people than in reading meanings into the stories. There is a lot of valuable material in this book, look for it at the library or at Abebooks.

  • A Companion to the Fairy Tale by Hilda Davidson, Editor.

    The aim of this book is to discuss the characteristics of the traditional fairy tale in Europe and North America, and various theories of its development and interpretation. The book deals with the main collections - the Grimm brothers, Hans Andersen, Perrault and Afanes'ev - and with the development of tales in various regions of Europe, including Ireland, Wales, Scandinavia, Germany and Russia, as well as India, where it was once claimed that they originated.

    More on Fairy Tales on Eldrbarry's The Great Collections and The Golden Age


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