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Society reprints 1897 'Beauty and the Beast'

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An 1897 McLoughlin Brothers edition of the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast" has been republished in its original form by the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

It's the fourth in a series of reissues of classic works in the collection of the state's history agency. Previous reprints include a 1942 "Three Little Kittens" book (2004), an 1888 version of "Red Riding Hood" (2003), and an 1896 version of "The Night Before Christmas," (2002). The reprints have been funded by the North Dakota Heritage Center Museum Store.

Part of the society's rare books collection, it was donated to the Society in March 2005 by Leonard and Dorinda Bjerklie of Hettinger, N.D. The original 1897 "Beauty and the Beast" book is on display in the lobby of the North Dakota Heritage Center through Jan. 6. Visitors can compare the original with a copy of the republished book displayed next to it.

The story of "Beauty and the Beast" has evolved from the first known print version dated 1550-53, which featured a serpent as the beast, to the beautiful story of love, acceptance and inner beauty in today's modern books and the popular Disney film released in 1991. The version known today first was published in 1740 by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Gallon de Villineuve of France as part of her collection of romance tales drawn from earlier works. Many versions were published during the 1800s in France, Great Britain and the United States. At least 68 printed editions have been identified.

While different versions vary the depiction of the beast as a pig, snake, toad, lizard, monkey or similar creature, the central theme remains the same: The beast is rich and powerful; the beauty is generally the youngest of three daughters. She is rarely given a name other than Beauty and, separated from the Beast, causes misfortune to beset him. Through Beauty's remorse, the Beast is transformed into a handsome man.

To order a copy of the full-color reproduction, call Rhonda Brown at (701) 328-2822, e-mail or visit

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