** Once Upon a Time by Marina Warner

When I was a child I loved visiting my grandparents for Christmas because, well, we got spoiled, and we also got to hang out all day with our cousins while our parents were distracted with each other — but mostly because, in the bedroom at the back, there was an entire wall of books from a children’s collection of international fairy tales. So I read fairy tales from Russia, from Japan, from Africa, shelves of them, all in a row. Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale is a slim book (200 pages, in a small format) that tells about the history of fairy tales, mostly in Europe and the Middle East and how traditional folktales were altered over time to fit the standards of the day. The author occasionally lapses into academic gibberish (“Literature was a speech act performed by living voices present to their audiences”) but the book certainly brought me back to that beloved back bedroom…


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