by Marina Warner
Once upon a Time is about the metaphor and analogy in fairytales. I found it rather wordy, though it gives some good information about history and cultural influences of various folktales. In some parts it seems to explain metaphor in metaphorical analogy as if the author is intentionally using flowery language, but it gives some good food for thought and I actually found it quite interesting.
The explains that not so long ago people believed in fairies and demons, but supposedly not as much now. It goes into the language of fairy tales and the symbolic landscape used in this form of storytelling.
There is some interesting history of well known tales and authors. Some of the tales mentioned included stories about Queen Mab, Robin Goodfellow and Puck. The book explains how fairies were prettified and the roles of magic and anthropomophised animals in fairy tales.
It also goes into the magic of words and the place of fairytales in culture, and how many original fairytales often had sinister elements, like Cinderella planning to murder her stepmother.
The book postulates that there is effectively a template of fairytale structure and that things don't always have to make sense. I particularly found it interesting to read about the history behind such recognizable names as Mother Goose and the Brothers Grimm, especially how many tales by the Grimm brothers were gathered with substantial effort or based on real life events.
Overall I found it a very interesting book and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in this story form.