NEW RELEASE & REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast – The Classic

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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.



I had never read Beauty and the Beast before this, my only knowledge of it coming from the old Disney classic movie and in details regarding the upcoming revival, but we all know it. The romantic tale of a beautiful bookworm falling in love with the beast of a man. This version compared to Disney’s is very different, as is to be expected, but it is just as magical.

I loved reading this anthology of folklore and mythology and seeing how Beauty and the Beast shaped the stories after it. How each culture and country (from Japan to South Africa to Italy) has replicated the story in their own way. Each story magical and filled with lessons for its readers. But it has others stories, too; fairy tales the likes of which we’ve come to adore like Cinderella and Zeus and Europa.

All of these stories have a connection, a common theme, with a love story involving some sort of animal. The editor who compiled all of these tales, Maria Tatar, goes into depth about the mythology of love stories involving animals and the origin of our main story, something which I found very fascinating. Each story, none very long, began with a foreword from Tatar, explaining the story to us. Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World isn’t a story just for adults who wish to relive the beauty of folklore, but it can be shared with their children, too. With the upcoming movie, I think this novel is a great pairing to what lies beneath the surface of the tale, and how love can transcend everything.

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