The VIOLET FAIRY BOOK - full online book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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viii
PREFACE
princes and princesses, these exalted persons generally were chosen as heroes and heroines. But originally the characters were just 'a man,' and ' a woman,' and • a boy,' and ' a girl,' with crowds of beasts, birds, and fishes, all behaving like human beings. When the nobles and other people became rich and educated, they forgot the old stories, but the country people did not, and handed them down, with changes at pleasure, from generation to gen­eration. Then learned men collected and printed the country people's stories, and these we have translated, to amuse children. Their tastes remain like the tastes of their naked ancestors, thousands of years ago, and they seem to like fairy tales better than history, poetry, geog­raphy^ or arithmetic, just as grown-up people like novels Detter than anything else.
This is the whole truth of the matter. I have said so before, and I say so again. But nothing will prevent children from thinking that I invented the stories, or some ladies from being of the same opinion. But who really invented the stories nobody knows; it is all so long ago, long before reading and writing were invented. The first of the stories actually written down, were written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, or on Babylonian cakes of clay, three or four thousand years before our time.
Of the stories in this book, Miss Blackley translated 'Dwarf Long Nose,' 'The Wonderful Beggars,' 'The Lute Player,' ' Two in a Sack,' and ' The Fish that swam 3 the Air.' Mr. W. A. Craigie translated from the Scan­dinavian, 'Jesper who herded the Hares.' Mrs. Lang did the rest.
Some of the most interesting are from the Rouma­nian, and three were previously published in the late Dr. Steere's ' Swahili Tales.' By the permission of his rep­resentatives these three African stories have here been abridged and simplified for children.
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