Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World by Maria Tatar was released last week just in time for Disney's Beauty and the Beast film hype. Smart marketing! The book offers readers 37 tales of beastly grooms and beastly brides across several tales types, especially ATU 425 (The Search for the Lost Husband), ATU 425C (Beauty and the Beast) and ATU 402 (The Animal Bride) although the tales are not typed in the book since the book is intended primarily for a general audience, The general tale types can be guessed at from the table of content categories: especially Animal Grooms and Animal Brides. Tale types are discussed in the introduction, but the collection itself is not typed for readers to whom this is important. And really tale types are primarily for scholars to help manage an infinite number of folktales, as imperfect a system as it is, it still is much better than none at all!
This is an excellent collection for everyone. It is from Maria Tatar after all! Tatar provides a lengthy introduction to the collection, as well as short introductions (about a paragraph in length) to each of the tales. I recommend it highly.
Now for the questions I'll get because I'm Heidi Anne Heiner, editor of Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World: How are the books different? Which one is better? I'll answer the second first--both are important, especially if you are a fan of Beauty and the Beast tales. It's all about how much you really want to read about Beauty and the Beast stories whether you decide you need both, just one, or even neither!
So how are they different? There is some overlap between stories offered in both volumes, roughly less than 10 tales. You can see the Table of Contents to both when you look inside the books on Amazon. My full contents of 188 tales are also listed here. We both offer several tale types with an emphasis on ATU 425 and ATU 425C. I ended up with a complex table of tale types in the end matter to my book. But my volume does not include Animal Brides. I simply didn't have room after 828 pages devoted to Animal Grooms. I still dream of editing an Animal Brides volume some day, though.
My volume also includes both the Villenueve and Beaumont versions of Beauty and the Beast. Only Beaumont appears in Tatar's due to length restrictions for the book--Tatar's volume in paper edition is intended to be portable and economical. The Villeneuve version is so very long that it would fill the pages of the slimmer volume. That tale is book length within itself and I actually offer two translations of it in Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World--read my post to see why. Tatar discusses both in her introduction because it is impossible to talk about one without mentioning the other with any authority.
Book description for Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World by Maria Tatar:
One of our most beloved and elemental fairy tales, in versions from across the centuries and around the world—published to coincide with Disney’s live-action 3D musical film starring Emma Watson, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Audra McDonald, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, and Emma Thompson
Nearly every culture tells the story of Beauty and the Beast in one fashion or another. From Cupid and Psyche to India’s Snake Bride to South Africa’s “Story of Five Heads,” the partnering of beasts and beauties, of humans and animals in all their variety—cats, dogs, frogs, goats, lizards, bears, tortoises, monkeys, cranes, warthogs—has beguiled us for thousands of years, mapping the cultural contradictions that riddle every romantic relationship.
In this fascinating volume, preeminent fairy tale scholar Maria Tatar brings together tales from ancient times to the present and from a wide variety of cultures, highlighting the continuities and the range of themes in a fairy tale that has been used both to keep young women in their place and to encourage them to rebel, and that has entertained adults and children alike. With fresh commentary, she shows us what animals and monsters, both male and female, tell us about ourselves, and about the transformative power of empathy.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.