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Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales [Paperback]

Jack Zipes

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Book Description

June 27 2002
Folk and fairy tales pervade the everyday world to such a degree that we are sometimes unaware of their enormous influence on our behaviour. In the seven essays in this collection, Zipes discusses historically and critically the evolution of folk tales as fairy tales, their influence on popular beliefs, the politics behind them and the way they are used in mass media culture today. He looks at how a wide range of authors, including the Brothers Grimm, Perrault, the German romantics, Hans Christian Andersen, Wilde and Tolkien used fairy tales as he assesses their enduring importance.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scholarly Book Services Inc; 2nd Revised edition edition (June 27 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813190304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813190303
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 14.7 x 1.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #595,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“The name Jack Zipes is synonymous with highly regarded and widely read anthologies and critiques of fairy tales.” -- Choice

“Zipes ably demonstrates that moral, political, religious, and other ideologies have shaped these apparently innocent narratives.” -- Lore and Language

About the Author

Jack Zipes, professor of German and director of the Center for German and European Studies the University of Minnesota, is the author of many books on folk and fairy tales, including Fairy Tale as Myth, Myth as Fairy Tale. He lives in Minneapolis.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
To begin with a true story told in fairy-tale manner: Once upon a time the famous physicist Albert Einstein was confronted by an overly concerned woman who sought advice on how to raise her small son to become a successful scientist. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Overview of Nonstandard Folktale Theories April 28 2000
By Julia Starkey - Published on
I really love Jack Zipes, and this is one of his helpful books for folklorists, and amateurs who enjoy reading fairy tales. It presents a variety of 'radical' theories about the meaning and construction of fairy tales. Many of the theories are no longer quite so radical. The book also gives you a good overview of feminist theories about the tales, some of which will surprise. Among other things, that fairy tales are not always about the subjugation of silly blond princesses. I reccomend this book as an intro to folk and fairy tale theory.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent resource Sept. 18 2013
By Becca - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wish I could find more books like this, with critical commentary on the development of fairy tales.

Unfortunately, the author is a professor of German, and uses a lot of German terms without necessarily translating them, which got confusing for this non-German speaking reader.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great starting point for "radical" interpretations of folk and fairy tales March 4 2010
By Michael A. Duvernois - Published on
The book was originally published in 1979, with this new edition coming along in 2002. The feminist interpretations of fairy tales have gained a lot of attention since the book appeared (see most any Angela Carter, my personal choice is The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman) and it would be hard to consider that radical today. Still, the discussion of latent fascism ("Might makes right") and Utopian idealism are excellent and thought provoking. The book was originally written at least in part a response to the popularity (late 1960s and early 1970s) of Tolkien and Narnia. The update adds in Harry Potter and reconnects us to popularity of the folk tale in mass market literature.

"In Pittsburgh, PA, a burglar lost his shoe as he fled from the home of Mrs. M., age 43. Patrolmen arrested R.T., age 20, who was sitting shoeless in a nearby bar. Authorities said a shoe matching the one found in the M. home was discovered behind the bar." - Winnipeg Free Press, April 14, 1972

Cinderella is all around us.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing Aug. 1 2012
By Karen - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was really disappointed by this e-book. I found the style of presentation and the way the content was presented really detracted from what I usually find to be very interesting themes.

I think that there are other books of Zipes' that cover this material in a much clearer and appealing way, such as 'The Irresistible Fairy Tale'.
5.0 out of 5 stars This is where the story begins. Aug. 16 2013
By Chiang Yow June - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of the earlier book from Zipes that discussed about the role and, most importantly I think, the need for such genre to exist from culture to culture.

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