The Blue Fairy Book - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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INTRODUCTION
xix
palace of Bellissima's, where all the princes courted her, and the fires were made of myriad sonnets and madrigals, ' which crackled and sparkled better than any other sort of wood.' Madame d'Aulnoy's ' White Cat' is a pleasant foil to this disastrous dwarf of hers ; the cat is a pretty kindly fee, and we are almost sorry when she becomes a princess, however beautiful and gracious. ' She looked very young, and very sad,' and her voice was the most musical of mews !
Miss Thackeray, who gave us such happy versions of those ' old friends,' might have rendered ' The White Cat' once more for the older people. ' Pretty Goldilocks,' too, is an enchanting lady, and it is not odd that the other princess nearly fell in love with the courtly and melancholy sheep who had been a prince. Never, truly, was sheep more princely than he, though his ill end is contrary to the best fairy traditions.
Even when abridged and stripped of their frippery Madame d'Aulnoy's tales hardly compete with Perrault's masterpieces. Of all the old friends of the Marchen he clung most closely to tradition, giving often the very wofds of his boy's nurse, though he added a quip or a gentle piece of satire or a veiled gauloiserie, here and there. I have given his tales of Mother Goose in the words of the oldest English translation I can procure. Though published in 1697, Perrault's Contes de via Mere VOye do not seem to have been Englished till 1729. A version is advertised in a newspaper of that year, but no copy exists in the British Museum. The text we print is from a very pretty little edition of 1703, which I purchased in Paris. The French and English face each other, and the book was probably meant to teach English children French, and French children English. Clearly the English version was not made from Perrault's first edition, but followed a later and slightly altered text. Perrault's tales have been much cut about in English. The ordinary picture-books have many garbled phrases, and foolish pieces of moralising, or descriptions
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