Andrew Lang’s “The Red Fairy Book”

This book is a Folio Society edition of a collection of Fairy Tales put together around the end of the 1800s.  Most of the stories are from Grimm, or French sources, but there are a few oddballs from other places.

Its a well put together book, like all Folio editions, with lovely line art and paintings. It looks like it could last another 100 years.  And in a change from modern impressions of children’s stories, there are some pretty nasty things going on.

For example, take “Snowdrop”, which is basically Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Everything seems to come as the Disney story except the evil queen has to make several attempts to kill Snowdrop, all of which work except that the one of the dwarfs knows CPR.  And the Prince, who seems a little bent since he wants to take home a glass casket with a pretty female corpse inside of it, does the equivalent of a Heimlich Maneuver to eject the poison apple bite from Snowdrop’s throat.

Luckily for his reputation, he did it by dropping the casket from his horse and not in some other fashion.

The evil Queen gets her comeuppance at the wedding where they make her wear red hot iron dancing shoes and dance until she dies. This is why you should always read the part of the invitation describing the proposed entertainment before deciding to attend.

I don’t recall that last part in the Disney version, but I may be mistaken.

And that’s nice compared to the Sigurd story, which like Hamlet has the Danish proclivity for having the entire cast dead at the end.  Lang does give a warning to the reader that this one has an especially high body count.

A “normal” body count is having the wicked stepmother and stepsister thrown in a pit of snakes.  This would have made the Brady Bunch television show a lot more interesting.

The Folio boys have a lot more in the series available – Lang apparently put out a bunch of them in different colors.  The two I have so far were annual gift throw in books for resubscribing, as I am not the usual market for Fairy tales.  But if I had kids I’d read them these, to make them more streetwise than the wimpy stuff put out today.

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