The Blue Fairy Book - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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xx                                   FAIRY TALES
utterly alien to Perrault's manner, are introduced. Tlie curious close of ' The Sleeping Beauty' has been improved away in English versions, but I cannot be so false to Perrault. Red Riding Hood is rescued and the wolf is killed by a woods­man, a perversion of history. Probably children prefer the truth. When M. P. J. Stahl told the tale to Charles Nodier's little grandchild, a girl of four, she cried,' Le gentil petit loup ' —Nice little wolf! M. Stahl was horrified, till he learned that his young friend was going without her dinner for her health's sake, and had been promised a cake. On Red Riding Hood's cake, or ' custard,' her mind had been steadily fixed, to the exclusion of that heroine herself. And the child was commending the sportsmanlike conduct of the wolf, who is not recorded to have eaten the cake even if he did gobble up the heroine !
We do not know what passes in the minds of children when they hear the fairy tales. Perhaps they side with the wolf, or have a tendresse for the Yellow Dwarf. But if their open eyes and mouths tell the truth (they have not learned to tell aught else) they are happy and contented with these grave prodigious histories. Pretty certainly they do not take the moral, and will be none the wiser, if much the more diverted, for the tale of Prince Hyacinth Longnose. There are few courtiers in our nurseries, but Madame le Prince de Beaumont may have meant her tale for a little Dauphin's reading.
The stories from the Norse which Mrs. Hunt has trans­lated are familiar to many already in Sir George Dasent's delightful book. We had only room for a few : they differ from the rest by a certain largeness of treatment; the clean cold air of the north, the healthy fragrance of pine forests blows through them, borne by the strong north wind. They are somewhat plain-spoken, but nobody who knows children, nobody who is not a prurient pedant of prudery, will be capable of thinking that this can harm their little readers. Dickens, in childhood, had ' a child's Tom Jones, an innocent
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