Guest Author - Siobhain M Cullen
Good Fairy Tales for adults to study have very different elements to fairytales for kids. They need to be unabridged, and preferably have some sort of guide with background and history attached, so that we can study them in context - and that includes the weird scary bits!
Perrault is just such a fairytale writer, one who tells it like it is. However, because some of his fairytale endings are a bit too cynical or true to life, they are often deemed not suitable as fairytales for kids. However, as fairy tales for adults to study, they have other benefits. The fairy tales of Perrault are good, solid, minimalist prose with a nightmarish quality. They do not have any unnecessary flowery padding or spurious details. Perrault's writing is often clever and funny in a dark sort of way.
His fairytale stories are often delightfully different from the traditional tales that have been 'dumbed down' from generation to generation. It is worth bearing in mind that many of these ancient creepy folktales were never intended for children. So, characteristically, the endings may be less kind, the consequences more dire! For example, in Perrault's version of the ever-popular 'Little Red Riding Hood' - she doesn't get saved by a cheery hunter coming to the rescue!.
For adults wishing to study fairytales from a literary history point of view it's good to look for a volume which has a complete collection of the author's tales as well as a bibliography for further reading up about the subject. A biography, or biographical notes is very useful as stories and author writing style can be studied chronologically in terms of the writer's literary development. Historical context is good too, if you can get it all in the same volume and , of course, let us not forget the gorgeous Victorian illustrations - the more sumptuous and costume-precise the better. This last one is not imperative, but for some researchers and fans, the illustrations add an unmissable quality to the fairytale experience.