(Bruno Bettelheim) (1976)
Bruno’s book meticulously deconstructs the beauty and the terror of the fairy tale, with its bullying utility (a boon for childish education) and wonderful rogues’ gallery of archetypes. It’s a great book on the power of myth that goes beyond J.G.Frazer to focus on the utter magic of childish understanding and imagination.
Bruno, a Professor of Psychology, and holocaust survivor (for awhile – he, sadly, stifled himself in 1990), understood both the power of fable and its tendency towards brutal indoctrination. He knew from life and in his finely-chiselled mind that we are all bullies – we are all bullied, and that this is simply part of the complex matrix of human communication and interaction. He helped a generation of parents understand their children, which (on balance) must have been a good thing.