marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

last of the Coloured Fairy Books

There were only twelve, and so with this I conclude my reviews of Andrew Lang's Coloured Fairy Books.

The Brown Fairy Book

This one fares farther, with a lot more from North America, Iceland, Egypt, etc. and fewer from Europe -- not that that doesn't demonstrate how the forms of stories can last. "The Sister of the Sun" and "The King Who Would Be Stronger than Fate" in particular are charming versions with local color of familiar tales. (Well, familiar if you read more than the Top Twenty(ish) Tales). I really don't like the first one "What The Rose Did to the Cypress," and some are more like notes on folklore than fairy tales as such.

The Orange Fairy Book

A collection of tales leaning toward the Scottish, Scandinavian and African. Some from the precieuses. One, "The Bird of Truth", left me wondering whether it was literary because it put the events out of order, which in my experience is a warning sign; folktales tend to recount in order. Though other than that it was a nice variant on that type. "How Ian Direach Got the Blue Falcon" shows Irish fairy tales importing the geas from their heroic literature, and I gotta admit it moves the story nicely. Other good ones include "The Enchanted Wreath."

The Olive Fairy Book
A mix of tales leaning toward India and the Middle East. "The Green Knight" gives us a new and different promise a dying queen should not extract from her husband. "The Prince and Princess in the Forest" and "The Silent Princess" are unusual tales. Several literary French ones -- which I was, by this point, able to pick out of the others just by style.

The Lilac Fairy Book

A mix of far fetched tales. A couple are not actually fairy tales at all but tales of a child's imaginative adventures -- and I'm afraid, not very good of the type. A number of Scottish and Irish ones, I particularly like "The Hoodie Crow" -- and I suspect that many of these were first collected no earlier than this. "The False Prince and the True" is an odd one, and I suspect a literary version because of the way backstory is revealed, and the way it starts in media res, though it has its points.
Tags: fairy tale reviews

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