Be Enchanted

Be Enchanted

By Ideas Editor

The imaginative and often dangerous world of fairy tales spins common human experience in a way that feels strangely vital. From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with stunning illustrations by Salvador Dalí, to the brilliant and strange Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn, to the subversive Fairy Tales for the Disillusioned, Princeton University Press has a wealth of offerings. Explore the enchanted.

When Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published their Children’s and Household Tales in 1812, followed by a second volume in 1815, they had no idea that such stories as “Rapunzel,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Cinderella” would become the most celebrated in the world. Yet few people today are familiar with the majority of tales from the two early volumes, since in the next four decades the Grimms would publish six other editions, each extensively revised in content and style. For the very first time, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm makes available in English all 156 stories from the 1812 and 1815 editions. These narrative gems, newly translated and brought together in one beautiful book, are accompanied by sumptuous new illustrations from award-winning artist Andrea Dezsö.

Shakespeare knew a good story when he heard one, and he wasn’t afraid to borrow from what he heard or read, especially traditional folktales. The Merchant of Venice, for example, draws from “A Pound of Flesh,” while King Lear begins in the same way as “Love Like Salt,” with a king asking his three daughters how much they love him, then banishing the youngest when her cryptic reply displeases him. This unique anthology presents more than forty versions of folktales related to eight Shakespeare plays: The Taming of the ShrewThe Comedy of ErrorsTitus AndronicusThe Merchant of VeniceAll’s Well That Ends WellKing LearCymbeline, and The Tempest. These fascinating and diverse tales come from Europe, the Middle East, India, the Caribbean, and South America, and include stories by Gerald of Wales, Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Giambattista Basile, J. M. Synge, Zora Neale Hurston, Italo Calvino, and many more

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of one of the most beloved classics of children’s literature, this illustrated edition presents Alice like you’ve never seen her before. In 1865, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, an Oxford mathematician and Anglican deacon, published a story about a little girl who tumbles down a rabbit hole. Thus was the world first introduced to Alice and her pseudonymous creator, Lewis Carroll. This beautiful new edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland features rarely seen illustrations by Salvador Dalí that illuminate the surreal yet curiously logical and mathematical realm into which Alice famously falls.

Captured centaurs and satyrs, incompetent seers, people who suddenly change sex, a woman who remembers too much, a man who cannot laugh—these are just some of the colorful characters who feature in the unforgettable stories that ancient Greeks and Romans told in their daily lives. Together they created an incredibly rich body of popular oral stories that include, but range well beyond, mythology—from heroic legends, fairy tales, and fables to ghost stories, urban legends, and jokes. This unique anthology presents the largest collection of these tales ever assembled.

A wonderful new addition to the Oddly Modern Fairy Tales series, The Castle of Truth and Other Revolutionary Tales presents English readers with a selection of Zur Mühlen’s best political fairy tales, some translated from German for the first time. In contrast to the classical tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, Zur Mühlen’s candid, forthright stories focus on social justice and the plight of the working class, with innovative plots intended to raise the political consciousness of readers young and old. 

Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904) was one of the nineteenth century’s best-known writers, his name celebrated alongside those of Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson. Born in Greece and raised in Ireland, Hearn was a true prodigy and world traveler. He worked as a reporter in Cincinnati, New Orleans, and the West Indies before heading to Japan in 1890 on a commission from Harper’s. There, he married a Japanese woman from a samurai family, changed his name to Koizumi Yakumo, and became a Japanese subject. An avid collector of traditional Japanese tales, legends, and myths, Hearn taught literature and wrote his own tales for both Japanese and Western audiences. Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn brings together twenty-eight of Hearn’s strangest and most entertaining stories in one elegant volume.

The wolf is tricked by Red Riding Hood into strangling her grandmother and is subsequently arrested. Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella do not live happily ever after. And the fairies are saucy, angry, and capricious. Fairy Tales for the Disillusioned collects thirty-six tales, many newly translated, by writers associated with the decadent literary movement, which flourished in France in the late nineteenth century. Written by such creative luminaries as Charles Baudelaire, Anatole France, and Guillaume Apollinaire, these enchanting yet troubling stories reflect the concerns and fascinations of a time of great political, social, and cultural change. 

Édouard Laboulaye (1811–1883), one of nineteenth-century France’s most prominent politicians and an instrumental figure in establishing the Statue of Liberty, was also a prolific writer of fairy tales. Smack-Bam, or The Art of Governing Men brings together sixteen of Laboulaye’s most artful stories in new translations. Filled with biting social commentary and strong notions of social justice, these rediscovered tales continue to impart lessons today.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, unique tales inspired by traditional literary forms appeared frequently in socialist-leaning British periodicals, such as the ClarionLabour Leader, and Social Democrat. Based on familiar genres—the fairy tale, fable, allegory, parable, and moral tale—and penned by a range of lesser-known and celebrated authors, including Schalom Asch, Charles Allen Clarke, Frederick James Gould, and William Morris, these stories were meant to entertain readers of all ages—and some challenged the conventional values promoted in children’s literature for the middle class. In Workers’ Tales, acclaimed critic and author Michael Rosen brings together more than forty of the best and most enduring examples of these stories in one beautiful volume.

Originally published in 1927, Told Again is an enchanting collection of elegant fairy tales, showcasing the formidable talents of a writer who used magical realism before the term had even been invented. Walter de la Mare (1873–1956) was one of the most celebrated writers of children’s literature during the first half of the twentieth century—so much so that W. H. Auden edited a selection of his poems and British children could recite de la Mare’s verses by heart.

The Fourth Pig, originally published in 1936, is a wide-ranging collection of fairy tales, poems, and ballads that reflect the hopes and forebodings of their era but also resonate with those of today. From a retelling of “Hansel and Gretel” to the experimental title story, a dark departure from “The Three Little Pigs,” this book is a testament to the talents of Naomi Mitchison (1897–1999), who was an irrepressible phenomenon—a prominent Scottish political activist as well as a prolific author. Mitchison’s work, exemplified by the tales in this superb new edition, is stamped with her characteristic sharp wit, magical invention, and vivid political and social consciousness. Marina Warner, the celebrated scholar of myths and fairy tales and writer of fiction, provides an insightful introduction to Mitchison as a remarkable writer and personality.