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Off with Their Heads!:
Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood
Maria Tatar

Winner of the 1992 Book Prize in Literature, German Studies Association

Paperback | 1993 | $46.00 | £38.95 | ISBN: 9780691000886
332 pp. | 7 3/4 x 10 | 30 illus.
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When Hansel and Gretel try to eat the witch's gingerbread house in the woods, are they indulging their "uncontrolled cravings" and "destructive desires" or are they simply responding normally to the hunger pangs they feel after being abandoned by their parents? Challenging Bruno Bettelheim and other critics who read fairy tales as enactments of children's untamed urges, Maria Tatar argues that it is time to stop casting the children as villians. In this provocative book she explores how adults mistreat children, focusing on adults not only as hostile characters in fairy tales themselves but also as real people who use frightening stories to discipline young listeners.


"As provocative and stimulating as her The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales, this book should give a salutary shock to everyone who brings children and tales together, convincing them that "every interpretation is a rewriting' and encouraging them "to identify what is transmitted in the stories we tell children.'"--Library Journal

Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations
I Rewritten by Adults: The Inscription of Children's Literature 3
II "Teaching Them a Lesson": The Pedagogy of Fear in Fairy Tales 22
III Just Desserts: Reward-and-Punishment Tales 51
IV Wilhelm Grimm/Maurice Sendak: Dear Mili and the Art of Dying Happily Ever After 70
V Daughters of Eve: Fairy-Tale Heroines and Their Seven Sins 94
VI Tyranny at Home: "Catskin" and "Cinderella" 120
VII Beauties and Beasts: From Blind Obedience to Love at First Sight 140
VIII "As Sweet as Love": Violence and the Fulfillment of Wishes 163
IX Table Matters: Cannibalism and Oral Greed 190
X Telling Differences: Parents vs. Children in "The Juniper Tree" 212
Epilogue: Reinvention through Intervention 229
Notes 239
Select Bibliography 273
Index 289

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Maria Tatar:

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File created: 7/11/2017

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