Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Beauty and the Beast: Recommended Reading Part II

I introduced this thread yesterday with Beauty and the Beast: Recommended Reading Part I, so go there and read my intro if you haven't yet. Essentially, I am recommending the books that helped make Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World possible. Well, it was always possible, but it would have taken me years longer. I built upon these building blocks these books provided.

Both of today's books are from an unabashed Beauty and the Beast fan and academic, Betsy Hearne. One is out of print and the other is not.

Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of an Old Tale is THE BOOK for Beauty and the Beast fans wanting to read about the tale and its history. As I was writing my introduction to my book, I kept thinking, oh, just write in large print: READ Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of an Old Tale. That would have been much easier and efficient, but I did do more than that.

I have great affection for this book since it also inspired my study and love of fairy tales when I first discovered it on a library shelf shortly after it was published. I was a senior in high school and serendipity led me to it on the shelf. I think I did a little dance hidden in the stacks with it clutched in my arms actually. Or at least considered it. I wasn't as lackadaisical about my public outbursts back then.

Hearne discusses the tale in depth in her book from the originals of Villeneuve and Beaumont to modern interpretations. Unfortunately, the book is now over 20 years old and out of print. I keep hoping for a reprint with a new introduction and extra chapters for what has followed since its publication. After all, Disney's Beauty and the Beast came out a few years later and increased the visibility of the tale quite a bit. Although one of the books I will recommend tomorrow has helped to fill in the gap somewhat.

The second book, edited by Betsy Hearne, is Beauties and Beasts: (The Oryx Multicultural Folktale Series). Yes, this is also an anthology of Beauty and the Beast tales. A few of the tales in this book also appear in my Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World, but there are several that are unique--and harder to find elsewhere thanks to original publications being out of print--to Hearne's collection of 27 tales. (Mine has 188 tales.)

Another difference is that Hearne's book is intended primarily for an elementary and middle school classroom in both content and scope. It is an excellent book and of great interest to any Beauty and the Beast fan, but it is also safer for younger readers, chosen and edited to be so. I didn't try to be safe with mine although Beauty and the Beast is one of the "safer" tales out there. I have to monitor my audiences when I am discussing Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and even Bluebeard in public, not so much with Beauty and the Beast.

Hearne's book is also the only other collection of Beauty and the Beast tales around. There are several collections of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood studies that include actual tales, but not as many for Beauty and the Beast.

I will recommend another two tomorrow, too, so stay tuned.

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