Off with Their Heads!: Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood

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9780691069432: Off with Their Heads!: Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood
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When Hansel and Gretel try to eat the witch's gingerbread house in the woods, are they indulging their "uncontrolled cravings" and "destructive desires" or are they simply responding normally to the hunger pangs they feel after being abandoned by their parents? Challenging Bruno Bettelheim and other critics who read fairy tales as enactments of children's untamed urges, Maria Tatar argues that it is time to stop casting the children as villians. In this provocative book she explores how adults mistreat children, focusing on adults not only as hostile characters in fairy tales themselves but also as real people who use frightening stories to discipline young listeners.

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From the Back Cover:

When fairy tales moved from workrooms, taverns, and the fireside into the nursery, they not only lost much of their irreverent, earthy humor but were also deprived of their contestatory stance to official culture. Children's literature, Maria Tatar maintains, has always been more intent on producing docile minds than playful bodies. From its inception, it has openly endorsed a productive discipline that condemns idleness and disobedience along with most forms of social resistance.

About the Author:

Maria Tatar is Professor of German Literature at Harvard University.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780691000886: Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood

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ISBN 10:  0691000883 ISBN 13:  9780691000886
Publisher: Princeton University Press, 1993
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