The Twelve Dancing Princesses and Other Fairy Tales is a book that contains a selection of fairy tales from different sources including The Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, and others. There are fairy tales that we are all familiar with such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, etc. and there are some that are unfamiliar to us (well me at least) such as The Goosegirl, The First of the Bearskins, etc. but these are not the Disney versions; there is more violence and more death in these versions.
My first instinct when reading this book is to ask why. Why would you select stories from different sources and combine it into one? Universities love to do that to form their textbooks and it annoys the heck out of me. If it’s important enough to be worth reading (usually it is), then just tell us where to find the original. Being chopped up as it is, it gives the text a lack of unity. Whatever. It’s the stories themselves that are important anyways, not the book it is bound in.
I’m not exactly sure how to proceed with this review. As each fairy tale is different, I can’t make a general statement about all of them. Well I can, it would just be very generic and not very useful; something like, “they were good”. But there are way too many to talk about each one in a post and none of them are long enough to warrant their own post. Well I guess that depends on how much detail I go into for each fairy tale and if you haven’t noticed by now, I am getting paid by the word (just kidding).
Ok it’s decided, each fairy tale is good enough that it deserves its own post. Since each fairy tale is fairly short (~2-5 pages), even a slow reader like me can read them fairly fast, and since I like to write my reviews as soon as I finish reading the book (and often times as I am reading the book), I apologize beforehand about the rapid fire succession of reviews that will be posted. One bright side of this is that you can wait till the very end when I post them all and just pick and choose which ones you want to read from the catalogue thingy on the right.
Let me just start by giving a list of all the fairy tales in this book so you know what to look forward to:
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (better known as the Brothers Grimm): The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Goosegirl, Rapunzel, The Devil’s Three Golden Hairs, Briar Rose, Snow White, Our Lady’s Child, The Bremen Town Musicians
Peter Christen Asbjornsen and Jorgen More: East of the Sun and West of the Moon
Peter Christen Asbjornsen: The Companion
Aleksandr Nikolaevich Afanasiev: Vasilisa the Beautiful, Prince Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf
Charles Perrault: Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, The Fairies, Cinderella
Madame Leprince de Beaumont: Beauty and the Beast
Hans Jacob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen: The First of the Bearskins.
Wilhelm Hauff: Dwarf Longnose
Hans Christian Anderson: The Tinderbox, The Swineherd, The Princess on the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, The Nightingale, The Little Mermaid
John Ruskin: The King of the Golden River
Oscar Wilde: The Selfish Giant
James Thurber: Many Moons
(and yes, both the method of trying to keep the book open with one hand while typing with the other and opening it up, reading a couple words, typing them out, and repeat are both extremely frustrating. I’d start doing audio reviews if I didn’t know I’d be all over the place and have no easy way to edit)