As I mentioned in the last post, when I was in a bit of a reading funk, and looking for quick interesting reads, I pulled down two books I had picked up at a library sale for a buck: The House of Paper and The Frog Prince. The Frog Prince
by Stephen Mitchell is labeled as a Fairy Tale for Consenting Adults:
In this brilliant jewel of a book, the best-selling author of Tao Te Ching: A New English Version expands and deepens the classic fairy tale in the most surprising and delightful ways, giving new emphasis to its message of the transcendent power of love.
The Frog Prince tells the story of a meditative frog’s love for a rebellious princess, how she came to love him in spite of herself, and how her refusal to compromise helped him become who he truly was. This is a magical book that moves (amphibiously) from story to meditation and back, from the outrageous to the philosophical to the silly to the sublime. Profound, touching, written in prose as lively and unpredictable as a dream, The Frog Prince tickles the mind, opens the heart, and holds up a mirror to the soul.
The above publisher hyperbole aside, I found it to be an interesting exploration of the classic fairy tale with a philosophical/psychological bent.
I didn’t find it particularly profound, but it was well written and an easy read. I am not sure how the whole Tao Te Ching thing fit into the story either but, again, that element wasn’t terribly distracting.
Being a fan of fairy tales myself, I enjoyed the way Mitchell explored the role of classic tales such as this both as stories but also as insight into human nature and relationships. I also liked the way he took this basic story,what Mitchell calls the “condensed version”, and situated it within a time, place, and history of his own devising; explaining the history of magic and these tales while he is at it.
I think Publisher’s Weekly sums it up well:
Insubstantial though it may be, however, the tale is gracefully told, and sympathetic readers will find it an appealing tribute to the original.
If you have an interest in unpacking fairy tales I think you will enjoy this one.