NPR

Tale As Old As Time: The Dark Appeal of 'Beauty And The Beast'

Disney's new live-action extravaganza is just the latest retelling of this classic fairy tale. But why do Beauty and her Beast have such a hold on us? And why are there so many versions of their tale?

In the introduction of Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales of Animal Brides and Grooms, Maria Tatar talks about how to classify a fairy tale using the Aarne-Thompson system. Developed and refined since the early 20th century, it's a massive taxonomy that cross-references our fundamental stories by subplots and themes. (The sheer volume of folklore would be overwhelming otherwise; Tatar's book alone contains stories from almost two dozen countries.) And stories of loathly brides and grooms generally fall under two types: The Man on a Quest for His Lost Wife, or The Search for the Lost Husband.

Looking at these categories, however, doesn't offer an easy place for

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