Search our site
Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner Read the opening extract of the brand new Susie Steiner book before its publication on 05/04/2018

Secrets beyond the Door The Story of Bluebeard and His Wives by Maria Tatar

Secrets beyond the Door The Story of Bluebeard and His Wives


Secrets beyond the Door The Story of Bluebeard and His Wives by Maria Tatar

The tale of Bluebeard's Wife--the story of a young woman who discovers that her mysterious blue-bearded husband has murdered his former spouses--no longer squares with what most parents consider good bedtime reading for their children. But the story has remained alive for adults, allowing it to lead a rich subterranean existence in novels ranging from Jane Eyre to Lolita and in films as diverse as Hitchcock's Notorious and Jane Campion's The Piano. In this fascinating work, Maria Tatar analyzes the many forms the tale of Bluebeard's Wife has taken over time, particularly in Anglo-European popular culture. It documents the fortunes of Bluebeard, his wife, and their marriage in folklore, fiction, film, and opera, showing how others took the Bluebeard theme and revived it with their own signature twists. In some tales the wife is a deceiver; in others she is a clever investigator. Earlier ages denounced Bluebeard's wife for her reckless curiosity and for her uncontrolled appetite ; our own times have turned her into something of a heroine, a woman who rescues herself--and often her marriage--through her detective work and psychological finesse. And as for Bluebeard? Once considered a one-dimensional brute, he has found renewed cultural energy both as a master criminal who kills in order to create a higher moral order and as an artist figure who must shield himself against intimacy to foster his creative powers. A brilliant account of how one classic fairy tale has been continually reincarnated, Secrets beyond the Door will appeal to both literary scholars and general readers.


In this fine book, which both scholars and ordinary readers enjoy, as I did, [Tatar] casts her net wide. She reprints several versions of 'Bluebeard,
and discusses not only these tales and their many variants, but also the reappearance of the story in fiction, film, opera, and poetry

. --Alison Lurie, The American Scholar A respected critic of fairy tales, Tatar takes on Bluebeard and the result is a deeply resonant, fascinating study of intertextuality... [S]he persuasively demonstrates how the Bluebeard tale shifts its shape century by century, revealing the secret anxieties of the age regarding sexuality, coming of age, romance, marriage, and marital discord. --Choice Secrets beyond the Door is full of transmutations and sublimations. Harvard professor Maria Tatar ... returns with a scintillating account of what generations of high and low culture have done to the Bluebeard folktale. --John Leonard, Harper's A book that unlocks the reasons of transgression in the chambers of the mind. --Alex Moore, Foreword Magazine

About the Author

Maria Tatar is Dean for the Humanities in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. She is the author of The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales, Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood ; and Lustmord: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany (all Princeton).

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

13th September 2006


Maria Tatar

More books by Maria Tatar
Author 'Like for Like'


Princeton University Press


264 pages


ChildrenÍs & teenage literature studies



Lovereading - a community of people passionate about reading and sharing their views. An incomparable website for book lovers.

Helen Clark

The best new books on the market, reviewed honestly, to give your readers the best choices.

Julie Cook

At Lovereading there are fabulous books available in every genre, with great reviews to help you pick the right book for you.

Teresa O'Halloran

You'll always find what you never knew you were looking for and you're always spoilt for choice.

Helen Jones

It is a website dedicated to those who adore reading It really is a one stop shop for book lovers. Love it!

Edel Waugh

The books for review are always great reads, brilliantly written, and introduces me to a huge variety of, established and new, authors.

Lesley Hart

Ever purchased a book, read a few pages & thought I'm not going to enjoy this? Honest book reviews mean you'll never have that problem again

Jill Peters

I love Lovereading because I get to read great books and then get to tell everybody how good they are.

Sally Doel