The Meanings of “Beauty and the Beast”
A Handbook
  • Publication Date: March 16, 2004
  • ISBN: 9781551115634 / 1551115638
  • 258 pages; 6" x 9"

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The Meanings of “Beauty and the Beast”

A Handbook

  • Publication Date: March 16, 2004
  • ISBN: 9781551115634 / 1551115638
  • 258 pages; 6" x 9"

Using Beaumont’s classic story as a touchstone, this work shows how “Beauty and the Beast” takes on different meanings as it is analyzed by psychologists, illustrated in picture books, adapted to the screen, and rewritten by contemporary writers.

The Meanings of “Beauty and the Beast” provides expert commentary on the tale and on representative critical approaches and contemporary adaptations. This book also includes a variety of original source materials and twenty-three colour illustrations.

The Meanings of “Beauty and the Beast” is for any reader who wishes to explore this classic, endlessly rich fairy tale.


“‘Beauty and the Beast’ is one of the most popular tales in the world, but very few critics have been able to account for its immense popularity. Now Jerry Griswold has bravely undertaken that task and has written a fascinating book that explores the manifold meanings of this compelling tale. Not only does Griswold trace the origins of the classical erotic story, but he also interprets the numerous adaptations in literature and film throughout the world. Whether he analyzes the classic version of Madame Leprince de Beaumont, Angela Carter’s feminist versions, or the Disney animated films, Griswold is always thought-provoking. This is a book that will certainly interest all readers who are captivated by the mystery of fairy tales.” — Jack Zipes, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

“While specifically focused on the tale named in its title, Jerry Griswold’s The Meanings of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ offers a perceptive and entertaining introduction to the subject of fairy tales generally. Interweaving an eclectic collection of variants of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ within and around a knowledgeable discussion of the history and meaning of the tale, Griswold offers both a useful introduction for those new to the study of fairy tales and insightful ideas about and interpretations of versions of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ that will greatly interest specialists in the field.” — Perry Nodelman, University of Winnipeg

“A blend of synthesis, anthology, and analysis, this offers a broadly supported expansion of the scholarship on an irrepressible story.” — Betsy Hearne, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


The Importance of “Beauty and the Beast”

The Tale and its Author

Among the Critics


Folk Tale Variations


Contemporary Versions


Select Bibliography

Jerry Griswold is a professor of literature at San Diego State University. He is the author of several books, including Audacious Kids: Coming of Age in America’s Classic Children’s Books (Oxford University Press, 1992; reissued as The Classic American Children’s Story: Novels of the Golden Age by Penguin, 1996) and The Children’s Books of Randall Jarrell (University of Georgia Press, 1988). Griswold has also published more than one hundred essays in The Paris Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review and elsewhere. He writes frequently for The Los Angeles Times.