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About the book
Jack Zipes has put together the first comprehensive anthology of feminist fairy tales and essays to appear since the women's movement gained momentum in the 1960's. He has selected works by such gifted writers as Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood, Tanith Lee, Jay Williams, Jane Yolen, Anne Sexton, Olga Broumas and Joanna Russ-all of whom, whether they consider themselves "feminists" or not, have written innovative stories which seek to break the classical tradition of fairy tales. The accompanying critical essays, by Marcia Lieberman, Sandra Gilbert, Susan Gubar and Karen Rowe, discuss how fairy tales play an important role in early socialization, influencing the manner in which children perceive the world and their place in it even before they begin to read.
What I thought
As I am writing my dissertation on how women are represented in fairy tales, Jack Zipes was my starting point. After browsing Amazon, it seemed to me that Zipes knows a hell of a lot about fairy tales as he has written so many books about them. Don't Bet on the Prince is the first of Zipes' books that I read.
Zipes begins the book with quite a lengthy introduction, which explains the aims of the book. In his introduction, Zipes explains a little about the origins of fairy tales but more specifically, the origins of the feminist fairy tale. He also explains about how females and males have been represented over the years and why there was a need for the view of females to be altered. Zipes' introduction is really interesting, especially for someone who doesn't really know a whole lot about feminism of feminist fairy tales - like me.
The first section of Don't Bet on the Prince tackles fairy tales for younger readers. However, only the fairy tales themselves are printed without any commentary. The second section of the book concentrates on fairy tales for older readers in the same way as the same section. I really wish that these tales had been explained rather than only shown. It doesn't help to be able to see any feminist aspects in these tales if you aren't used to the genre of criticism. Although you know they are feminist tales by the title of the book, I would have liked to have been told specifics about both them and the author.
The last section of Don't Bet on the Prince is what I found really helpful. Here, there are essays by feminist literary critics or critics talking about feminist aspects of fairy tales. These essays explain stereotypical genre conventions and the difference between how women's roles are written in classic fairy tales compared to more contemporary tales. Karen E. Rowe talks about feminism in fairy tales while Marcia K. Leiberman explains the use of princes in fairy tales and how women come to rely on them. All of the essays in this section give fairy tales as examples, even specific quotes, which helped me a great deal.
Jack Zipes, along with the critics who wrote the essays, helped a great deal in pointing out new and different fairy tales to be. Also, I have now got a better understanding of feminist views of fairy tales and a great list of feminist tales which I can use in my dissertation. I'm glad that I started with this book as it showed me that Jack Zipes is going to be an author I get to know much better over the course of the next year.