THE COM­PLETE FAIRY TALES

The Field - - Books -

A col­lec­tion of Per­rault’s fairy tales might not be a most ob­vi­ous travelling com­pan­ion to ac­com­pany you on your next sport­ing trip north. But wait, for in these tales of wit and hu­mour there is much to like.

Just as the wilds of Scot­land har­bour drama and mystery, Per­rault’s tales cap­ture the myth and magic of the fairy tale, a form of story that has lasted for more than 400 years.

It is ex­tra­or­di­nary to re­visit sto­ries so fa­mil­iar from child­hood and see within their bounds sav­agery, de­ceit and dire warn­ings about preda­tors and even pu­berty. The hid­den sym­bol­ism of Per­rault’s tales is ex­plained in the eru­dite in­tro­duc­tion by Christo­pher Betts, who has trans­lated the 1697 edi­tion, the only com­plete trans­la­tion in both verse and prose.

The fairy tale is a rite of pas­sage. Read yours aloud, share it with a small or re-read these tales and won­der at the depth that Dis­ney never did. By Charles Per­rault Edited by Christo­pher Betts Ox­ford Univer­sity Press, £15

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