April 30, 2012

This is my copy of The Folio Society edition of Andrew Lang’s The Crimson Fairy Book with paintings and decorations by Tim Stevens. Andrew Lang collected folk and fairy tales and bound them up in his books of color. He didn’t write the fairy tales. Well, how did they get invented then? Andrew Lang said, “It is only plain that, perhaps a hundred thousand years ago, some savage grandmother told a tale to a savage granddaughter; that the granddaughter told it in her turn; that various tellers made changes to suit their tastes, adding or omitting features and incidents.” Those savage grandmothers spun out tales with princes, princesses, kings, queens, hairy men, pipers, ogres, birds, bears, witches, strangers, talking cats, dragons, magic kettles, wishes, impossible tasks, caverns, treasure, trolls, giants, tailors, merchants and shepherds, not to mention glass mountains and golden apples. What’s special about The Crimson Fairy Book? It has one of my favorites, Little Wildrose, in it. It’s a favorite because I like the way the savage grandmother starts it by saying, “Once upon a time the things in this story happened, and if they had not happened then the story would never have been told.”

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