Dr. Ignas Kunos’ 1913 classic “Forty-Four Turkish Fairy Tales” has been re-released in hardcover with a colour interior giving a new lease of life to this classic of children’s literature. This volume is a treasure chest of classic Eastern tales drawing on the rich folklore of Turkey. Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales has not been in print for almost 100 years, mainly because the original edition had lavish production standards.
This volume is appropriately titled Fairy Tales because something definitely ‘fairy’ occurs. There are talking animals, flying horses, birds that magically change into beautiful maidens, quests to win the hand of a princess, magical objects, simple, yet brave, peasants, wizards, witches, dragons and dungeons, epic journeys, and lovable fools. The majority of these stories contain encounters with ‘Dews’, or Turkish supernatural beings, better known in the West as ‘Genies.’ Sometimes the Turkish Dews are also called ‘Arabs!’
With almost 200 exquisite illustrations by the late Willy Pogany, this volume will enable a whole generation of today’s children to become reacquainted with fairy tales and imagery of the Orient. There are many other specifically Turkish elements and references in the stories, for which the glossary at the end of the book is of particular help. So this isn’t simply an orientalised set of European Tales, but was drawn from an authentic Turkish oral storytelling tradition by Dr. Ignácz Kúnos.
Note: some of the illustrations may be considered unsuitable by 21st Century standards because they can be considered as caricatures with obvious ethnic stereotypes. However, in most cases, the illustrator is portraying imaginary creatures, which are supposed to be grotesque. Also to be remembered is the book was originally produced in 1913 when the world’s attitudes towards racial tolerance and acceptance were quite different to those of today.