Andrew Lang (1844-1912) was a prolific Scots man of letters, a poet, novelist, literary critic and contributor to anthropology. He now is best known as the collector of folk and fairy tales. He was educated at the Edinburgh Academy, St Andrews University and at Balliol College, Oxford. As a journalist, poet, critic and historian, he soon made a reputation as one of the ablest and most versatile writers of the day. Lang was one of the founders of the study of "Psychical Research," and his other writings on anthropology include The Book of Dreams and Ghosts (1897), Magic and Religion (1901) and The Secret of the Totem (1905). He was a Homeric scholar of conservative views. Other works include Homer and the Epic (1893); a prose translation of The Homeric Hymns (1899), with literary and mythological essays in which he draws parallels between Greek myths and other mythologies; and Homer and his Age (1906). He also wrote Ballades in Blue China (1880) and Rhymes la Mode (1884).
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This collection of fairy tales is similar to the first that I read, The Yellow Fairy Book, in that it amasses a wide range of fairy and folk tales from various countries in Europe and Asia (with occasional forays into other continents). The two differences I noticed were 1) that a lot more of these tales came from countries not previously covered, like India, and 2) although the book is the same size as the Yellow Fairy Book, the print is much larger, so that the content is about half as much as the previous. It seems that Lang was ranging farther afield to find new stories for his series, and finding less material. I didn't mind, though, because the tales were just as much fun as before, and if you read the entire collection then you still have quite a treasure trove of fairy tale lore. Actually, I really appreciated the fairy tales that came from India and Africa. You start to become accustomed to the tropes and themes of European fairy tales, and while I love them (that's why I read them!), it's nice to read stories from other cultures that have different emphasis, values, and stock characters. For a girl born and raised on fairy tales, it's funny how little of them I actually remember reading, and I enjoy adding to my knowledge by reading through this series.more