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John Steinbeck
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Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version - Philip Pullman, Jacob Grimm 3 1/2 stars.

I was so excited when I saw this. I love fairy tales (especially fairy tale retellings!!), and I am a fan of Philip Pullman's work, so I thought that this would be totally awesome.

As it is, these are not retellings of Grimms' fairy tales, they're just...tellings. He basically copy & pasted 50 Grimm tales and then added a couple paragraphs' commentary at the end of each. Occasionally he says something interesting, but mostly you could do without it. I recently recovered my edition of the fairy tales at my mom's house, so I had them side by side for comparison. Sometimes I like the handful of word changes that Pullman makes better, but often I liked the "original" just as much or better. Like in the bird, mouse & sausage one, my edition of the complete tales says that the bird is sad after the sausage is eaten, and Pullman's version doesn't. I think it's better with the sausage being sad.

It's getting the rating it does because these were advertised as "retellings," when they are really no such thing, and Pullman isn't really clear why he selected the ones he did. In my opinion his commentary didn't really add much, and in one case, it was just weird: he detailed a Jungian analysis of a fairy tale that sounded quite interesting, before dismissing it as "twaddle" and saying it's just a coincidence that this fairy tale fits a formula and it's better without thinking about all that stuff anyway. I was like, "O...kay?" I know hardly anything about Jung so I don't really feel fit to say if it's twaddle or not, but finding patterns and going through the psychology of things is, to me, actually fun. To dismiss psychological analysis or symbolic imagery of fairy tales because "they're fairy tales" seems like things are kind of being sold short.

If you're interested in this, you're probably just better off rereading the Grimms' collection itself, or getting some illustrated stories out of the library and enjoying the artwork, which would probably be more enjoyable than the author's commentary.