Bruno Bettelheim was one of the great child psychologists of the twentieth century and perhaps none of his books has been more influential than this revelatory study of fairy tales and their universal importance in understanding childhood development.
Analyzing a wide range of traditional stories, from the tales of Sindbad to “The Three Little Pigs,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “The Sleeping Beauty,” Bettelheim shows how the fantastical, sometimes cruel, but always deeply significant narrative strands of the classic fairy tales can aid in our greatest human task, that of finding meaning for one’s life.
“Bettelheim argues convincingly that fairy tales provide a unique way for children to come to terms with the dilemmas of their inner lives.” —The Atlantic
“A charming book about enchantment, a profound book about fairy tales.” —John Updike, The New York Times Book Review
“A splendid achievement, brimming with useful ideas, with insights into how young children read and understand, and most of all overflowing with a realistic optimism and with an experienced and therapeutic good will.” —Harold Bloom, The New York Review of Books
“Provocative and persuasive.” —Boston Globe
About the Author
Bruno Bettelheim was born in Vienna in 1903. He received his doctorate at the University of Vienna and came to America in 1939, after a year in the concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenwald. He was a Distinguished Professor of Education and Professor of both psychology and psychiatry at the University of Chicago. He died in 1990.