Forty-Four Turkish Fairy Tales – A Children’s Literary Classic Given a New Lease of Life

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.

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The Literary Classic is in the Eye of the Beholder

Literary classics vary by country and time period.

Britain might say that the Bronte Sister wrote wonderful classics and recommend that students of literature read their works which include Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey. Some of these books have recently been brought to the big screen in movies but neither movies nor Cliff’s Notes will tell the entire story.

Louisa May Alcott is famous for writing Eight cousins, Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys and several other books. Over the years these particular books have become favorites of children everywhere. They have been made into movies and television shows but nothing will ever equal the written word that Ms. Alcott struggled over all those years ago.

America is a new country but it can be credited with many wonderful stories compiled in book form by people like Jack London who wrote The Call of the Wild. Other classics that have remained popular are Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe, Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, and Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, both by Mark Twain.

It is sad that today’s children do not read as much as those of the past. Perhaps all the electronic media has taken some of the pleasure from reading. Nothing can beat holding the printed word in your hand as you follow along on a great adventure. One of these adventures is Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Even though this wonderful tale is available to today’s children through cartoons and movies, they would all better understand the story if they first read the book.

Nobody wrote like Charles Dickens. His wonderful stories were told in A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and A Christmas Carol. Once you read the stories in these books, your idea of life and good living changes for ever.

The Three Musketeers by Dumas told us about Aramis, Porthos, and D’Artangne and their motto, “All for one and one for all”. Children today see the movies but a person reading the book can relive the movement of the sword play just as well as those in the theater audience. Plus, movies have to cut out parts of the book in order to make the movie compact enough to fit the time.

In 1941 (ending in 1967) a comic book company published Classic Comics and Classics Illustrated. These comic books were used to get kids to read the classics and kids found themselves interested in things like the Three Musketeers and the characters of Dickens books. It also made these books accessible to adults who were learning to read English. Many a kid never cracked the actual book but made it all the way through their literature classes by reading these comic versions of the classics. There were 167 literary classics available through Classi

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