24 April 2006

Classics Continued

I have finished Volumes 1 and 2, Fairy Tales and Fables, and Folk Tales and Stories of Wonder. The familiar old fairy tales (well, most were familiar anyway) were easy reading, but I discovered small details in the tales that I'd forgotten over the years (there's a lot more to the Three Little Pigs, for instance, than shows up in the tales abbreviated for small children or in the Disney cartoon version). The second volume was more difficult to slog through—it includes Charles Dickens' "The Magic Fishbone," which is pretty dull (the king's interminable whining is annoying as well) and so many versions of the younger son or the dullard son who goes off to make his fortune and wins the the princess that they blur together. It did have the long versions of Aladdin and Ali Baba; those who have only seen the Disney version of Aladdin would probably be perturbed by the original. Aladdin is thoroughly unlikeable; he doesn't do a lick of work in the entire story and still gets rewarded for his "cleverness." Cleverness my foot; the genie does all the dirty work. The volume also includes some Asian folk tales that I had not heard before, including a magical one about a starved artist's dogsbody who longs to paint and receives instructions from a master's painting.

I have now started the third volume, with the familiar Greek and Roman myths: Phaeton, Prometheus, etc. I haven't read these since late elementary school/junior high and am interested in how the stories were adapted for the Collier printing.

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