Bitchin' Blog Posts
Alia requests your help finding a book of fairy tales that sounds very extraordinary. This is kinda trippy for me because I was thinking about my favorite fairy tale collection just yesterday. Now I want to go find it.
I’m looking for a hardcover collection of fairy tales (i think. it might have been “world tales” or “folk tales” or even “stories about half naked women”) with a mostly white or at least white-edged cover, printed before 1983. I know that date, because I remember bringing the battered book outside and the neighbor boys being extremely interested in a picture of a naked young woman being dragged (up?)/surrounded by winged brown and grey demons/monsters/giant insects. I was seven, so thought both the boys and the picture were gross and embarrassing. Gross boys are remembered, name of collection, even name of the story with brownish demons and naked girl looking down, not so much.
The picture *I* remember is of The Master Maid (i think that story was from the middle of the collection), her back to the viewer, her long straight blond hair braided with two small braids at the temple, joining in the middle and then going down her back—without any sign of hair tie. (I was seven. I had long hair. I wanted my hair to stay braided without a hair tie pulling my scalp or digging into my back. Priorities!)
All the illustrations were lush, colorful, realistic (er, as realistic as monsters get—and the naked girl pic also stood out because it was the least colorful painting) and I think the first two stories were a retelling of the East of the Sun, West of the Moon story (girl goes off with unsuitable husband in the dark, comes back to visit mean family who tell her he’s a demon, she must look at him, drama ensues…) with a picture of women on either side of our heroine whispering into her ears—again, mostly naked, as they were in a huge bathhouse type space. And the other first tale that I remember had the word “shrew” in it but had nothing to do with Shakespeare. There was a languid woman lying down in gorgeous, jewel-toned surroundings…. possibly Indian or Persian, so it might have been The Cobra and the Shrew or something like that… maybe…
The reason I don’t have this book anymore is that it was huge and heavy and we moved a lot (hence pinpointing dates by neighborhood), and my mother claims that the stories themselves were badly written. I don’t remember the words, frankly. But I remember the pictures, oh yes…
Not Arthur Rackham or Brian Froud, not any illustrator who comes up easily in simple searches. And forgetting to put quotes around “The Master Maid” in google images scarred me for life.
Most of the book search options online expect you to know the author or the title, and I don’t know how else to describe the book except as above.
Can the bitchery take pity on me—at least point me towards a similarly minded group of people with an encyclopedic knowledge of fairy tale illustrators and their work, rather than romance novels?
fairy tales were my first love
Anyone remember this book?