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Review: Bluebeard

April 28, 2011

Penguin has recently released Penguin Mini Classics, a collection of 50 books featuring authors such as Saul Bellow, Jorge Luis Borges, H.G. Wells and more. I decided to pick up Angela Carter’s Bluebeard, a collection of fairy tales adapted by her.

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of stories with very famous fairy stories, including Sleeping Beauty and Red Riding Hood. Written in a simple, clean prose that highlights the stories; of course, because the stories are so well ingrained in literary history it’s very hard to produce something new. This collection doesn’t necessarily offer a fresh take but it gives it a sense of vitality and life to them.

What I really loved about the book is the updated morals Carter writes at the end of each story. At the end of Cinderella: or, The Little Glass Slipper, Carter writes:

It is certainly a great advantage to be intelligent, brave, well-born, sensible and have other similar talents given only by heaven. But however great may be your god given store, they will never help you to get on in the world unless you have either a godfather or a godmother to put them to work for you.

Or in Bluebeard:

It is easy to see that the events described in this story took place many years ago. No modern husband would dare to be half so terrible, nor to demand of his wife such an impossible thing as to stifle her curiosity. Be he never so quarrelsome or jealous, he’ll toe the line as soon as she tells him to. And whatever colour his beard might be, it’s easy to see which of the two is the master.

In the end, I thought that this was a quick and enjoyable read for £3.00. I didn’t really enjoy the first Angela Carter novel I read, The Magic Toyshop, but from reading this I want to give her novels another try. If that is not a great declaration of a books worth then what is?

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