Little Black Classics: Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wall-Paper and Hans Christian Andersen's The Tinder Box

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For the second round of me trawling through Penguin's Little Black Classics (my first post can be found here) I read Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wall-Paper and Hans Christian Andersen's The Tinder Box during this year's #CRAMATHON. I gave both a 4/5 stars on Goodreads and enjoyed them a hell of a lot more than the previous two I encountered.

I'm a big fan of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's writing and first read her short story 'The Yellow Wall-Paper', the main story of this collection, back in sixth form whilst studying Gothic literature. Re-approaching it all of these years later was an insightful experience, now being able to read it from a more educated perspective. I'm currently researching her novel Herland for my MA dissertation so having more of a background in mind on her beliefs and aims definitely changes my viewpoint. 'The Yellow Wall-Paper' is the tale of a woman locked against her will in a room by her husband to 'recuperate', very much the case during the late-nineteenth century when women showed any sign of ailment or excessive emotion. The story unravels, along with the protagonist's mind, as she starts to see a woman living in the horrendous yellow wallpaper. It's one of my favourite short stories of all time, so I had high hopes for the rest of the collection. Fortunately the other two tales weren't bad and maintained an enjoyably spooky atmosphere, but I feel the collection definitely rides on the ghostly weight and power of 'The Yellow Wall-Paper'.

Having never read an original Hans Christian Andersen fairytale before, this Little Black Classic gave me the perfect primer to this side of my literary education. This collection was enjoyable and really showed me how little I knew about this era of fairy stories. I found them charming, yet disturbing (always a winning combination), with my favourite being 'Big Klaus and Little Klaus', a story of jealousy and one-upmanship. I would definitely pick this up if you're interested in getting into fairy tales, but however much I enjoyed them, I think in the future I'll be looking to the myths and folktales of other countries for some more inspiration. 

What are your fairy tale recommendations? It's definitely a genre I want to get into so any suggestions are more than welcome.

M x

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