Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tales of Wonder: Retelling Fairy Tales through Picture Postcards by Jack Zipes

Tales of Wonder: Retelling Fairy Tales through Picture Postcards by Jack Zipes with a foreword by Marina Warner was released this month.

So most of you dear readers are not going to be familiar with an old, out of print series of fairy tale books that used assorted classic illustrations by various artists instead of just one new illustrator to illustrated beloved fairy tales. The books were edited by Cooper Edens who owns a robust collection of Golden Age and even earlier fairy tale books. I learned about many obscure fairy tale illustrators with the help of those books, so I have great affection for them.

This new release takes that concept and puts a new spin on it with many supplemental resources included beyond the tales themselves. Check out the table of contents to see what I mean.

In this coffee table sized book--it's big!--familiar fairy tales are illustrated with classic postcards collected by Jack Zipes, renowned fairy tale expert. In his acknowledgements he dedicates the book to his wife and daughter for their decades of patience with his search for fairy tale postcards (and I imagine other fairy tale materials). I smiled since I have enjoyed the same patience of family and friends as I've hunted for fairy tale materials.

As an enthusiast of fairy tale illustration, this book is a veritable treasure trove of new imagery for me. This book represents the most new materials I've seen in one place in years--not really since I first started my own studies and happened upon a library of original Golden Age books illustrated by Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, Edmund Dulac, etc. in the Burbank Public Library system where I worked at the time. That discovery inspired the creation of the art gallery on my SurLaLune site. With this book, I was more challenged to find illustrations I HAVE seen before since most I have not. It is a visual feast I will be returning to over and over again.

But it's not just images here to treasure. Zipes offers us the text for several tales as well as other sections about the history of fairy tale postcards, the actual tales, the tale's authors, some of the postcard creators, etc. There is much to be read and absorbed here, too. Never fear, it's all presented in a tone that is fun for more casual fairy tale fans, so they aren't overwhelmed. This is very much a coffee table book format as I mentioned earlier, but with meatier text, not just images. The book design is beautiful and there are never too many images on a page but also plenty to make you feel like you are seeing representation of a true collector's collection, not just the veriest of highlights. Every time I sit down to read--and I am an avid reader--I get caught up in the illustrations instead. The text I have read is excellent but I still haven't finished it because I keep getting caught in the grasp of the visuals instead, a rather rare occurrence for me since I even read cereal boxes if they are nearby.

Book description:

The most familiar fairy tales call to mind certain images: Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty. Yet these visions often merely reflect illustrations encountered in classic tellings of the tales. The postcards gathered here by one of the world’s foremost scholars of folk and fairy tales tell another story—of the remarkable range of interpretations and reimaginings these tales have inspired, captured, and conveyed picture by picture in this singular form. A pictorial history of fairy-tale postcards from the late nineteenth century to the present, Tales of Wonder presents a fascinating look at how key scenes of fairy tales have been rendered over time, suggesting a rethinking and reliving of the tales through the years.

Drawn from the author’s collection of more than three thousand fairy-tale postcards from around the world, these five hundred beautiful illustrations reproduce oil paintings, watercolors, photographs, ink drawings, and silhouettes—all evincing the myriad ways popular artists and their audiences have reimagined these tales. After an introduction and general history of fairy tales in postcards, the book features Jack Zipes’s own translations of the most classical fairy tales in Europe and the United States, including versions by Charles Perrault and by Brothers Grimm.

The fairy tale is not just once upon a time: it is, as fairy-tale postcard, a particular if not peculiar expression of a time, created by talented artists and innovative publishing companies. Tales of Wonder tells this intriguing history of the postcards as well as providing new perspectives on familiar stories.

Table of Contents:

Foreword by Marina Warner

Introduction: Telling an Unknown History of the Fairy Tale Postcard

Early Fairy Tale Postcards and the Art of Storytelling

The Tales

Classical Tales

  • Little Red Riding Hood
  • Little Tom Thumb/Hansel and Gretel
  • Cinderella
  • Snow White
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Puss in Boots
  • The Pied Piper
  • Rip Van Winkle

A Mélange of the Brothers Grimms

Stories by Hans Christian Andersen

Russian Fairy Tales

Fairy Tale Novels

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Pinocchio
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Peter Pan

A Global Cornucopia of Fairy Tale Postcards

The Art

Photography Series

Fairy-Tale Art Series

Epilogue: The Art of Retelling Tales


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