Friday, January 16, 2015

The Irresistible Fairy Tale by Jack Zipes

I almost didn't finish this book. The first two chapters, "The Cultural Evolution of Storytelling" and "The Meaning of Fairy Tale within the Evolution of Culture", bored me. I really, really wanted to read this because it's about fairy tales, but the academic-speak made me put down the book after a few paragraphs.

So I did something that I hardly ever do. I skipped the first two chapters and went straight to "Remaking Bluebeard", or Good-bye to Perrault. The book caught my attention from there. Remaking Bluebeard is as the chapter title says. Using a French film that retold the story, the author looked at the meaning of the Bluebeard fairy tale. I thought it interesting, though I wasn't sure if I agreed with all of the author's opinion, especially since I haven't seen the film.

Then, he went on to "Witch as Fairy/Fairy as With: Unfathomable Baba Yagas" and the book drew me in completely. Jack Zipes is at his best when he's introducing fairy tales to you and talking about them. He clearly knows a lot, and he has excellent examples in there - the Brothers Grimm and Perrault can just step aside, because there are many more voices to be heard. The next three chapters are the same, exploring the idea of a Heroine (possibly my favourite chapter in the book), a few great, but not very well-known fairy-tale collectors, and then coming back to this modern age to look at how fairy tales are being reinterpreted by artists.

You would think that with that, you read the end of the book, but according to Scribd, I was only 64% done. There are still two appendixes, "Sensationalist Scholarship: a 'New' History of Fairy Tales', where he basically tells you why he disagrees with the author of "A New History of Fairy Tales", and "Reductionist Scholarship: A "new" definition of the fairy tale", which again, he disagrees with. You can just consider them two book reviews.  

If you're interested in a serious study of Fairy-Tales, you may want to check this book out. Feel free to skip chapters if it bores you.

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