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The Folklore of Discworld Paperback – Oct 19 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi (Oct. 19 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552154938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552154932
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 422 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #154,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“One of the most interesting and critically underrated novelists we have … The Folklore of Discworld — co-authored with the eminent folklorist Jacqueline Simpson — emphasizes his irreverence and drollery.”
The Times

“Pratchett is, like Mark Twain or Jonathan Swift, not just a great writer but also an original thinker … funny, exciting, lighthearted and, like all the best comedy, very serious.”
Guardian

About the Author

Dr. Jacqueline Simpson’s publications include British Dragons; Folklore of Sussex; Scandinavian Folktales and (with Jennifer Westwood), The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England’s Legends.

Terry Pratchett is one of the most popular authors writing today. He is the acclaimed creator of the Discworld series, the first title in which, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983, and the latest is Making Money. His books have been translated into 37 languages. Terry Pratchett was knighted for services to literature in 2009.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on Oct. 20 2008
Format: Hardcover
Folklore, ancient or modern, is one of the major foundation stones of the Discworld books. Human nature being another, one assumes. Discworld folklore is a trivia test among Discworld fans who will slyly ask one another [generally over a pint], if they can identify the origins of a certain figure or idea. With some slight discrepancies between UK and North American versions, such exchanges can become, well, spirited. "Elves or elfs?" is always good for starting an evening.

Pratchett and Simpson sort all this out - and much else besides - in this delightful work on matters folklorish. Typically, the prompt for the book was Pratchett chanting as he signed a previous release: "How many versions of the Magpie Song do you know?" A distinguished-looking lady gave the query a moment's thought and responded "about nineteen" Thus began the wonderful collaboration leading to FoD. It's typical also of the theme of the book. Discworld and Roundworld [Earth] are linked by the universal presence of narrativium, which Dimitri Mendeleev inexplicably omitted from the Periodic Table. Pratchett knows all about narrativium, carefully explaining how it drifts between universes, carrying ideas or stimulating new ones. Folklore on the Discworld compared to that of Earth may demonstrate strong similarities, or just vague likenesses that have been severely modified. The process is unhelpful, the authors note, in determining which world is the source of the story, which is sometimes a let-down.

The book's organisation is appropriate for what it must cover - it begins with the entire universe.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 41 reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Nineteen versions?? Oct. 20 2008
By Stephen A. Haines - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Folklore, ancient or modern, is one of the major foundation stones of the Discworld books. Human nature being another, one assumes. Discworld folklore is a trivia test among Discworld fans who will slyly ask one another [generally over a pint], if they can identify the origins of a certain figure or idea. With some slight discrepancies between UK and North American versions, such exchanges can become, well, spirited. "Elves or elfs?" is always good for starting an evening.

Pratchett and Simpson sort all this out - and much else besides - in this delightful work on matters folklorish. Typically, the prompt for the book was Pratchett chanting as he signed a previous release: "How many versions of the Magpie Song do you know?" A distinguished-looking lady gave the query a moment's thought and responded "about nineteen" Thus began the wonderful collaboration leading to FoD. It's typical also of the theme of the book. Discworld and Roundworld [Earth] are linked by the universal presence of narrativium, which Dimitri Mendeleev inexplicably omitted from the Periodic Table. Pratchett knows all about narrativium, carefully explaining how it drifts between universes, carrying ideas or stimulating new ones. Folklore on the Discworld compared to that of Earth may demonstrate strong similarities, or just vague likenesses that have been severely modified. The process is unhelpful, the authors note, in determining which world is the source of the story, which is sometimes a let-down.

The book's organisation is appropriate for what it must cover - it begins with the entire universe. From there it works its way through Dwarfs and Elves, giving us an interesting account of how the Elves, feared and despised on Discworld for their dark and evil ways, have somehow become transformed in modern times into charming little creatures who make toys for children. Drifting through space, narrativium must form some bizarre isotopes. The two witch types - those from Lancre and the Witches of the Chalk Downs are described. The Nac Mac Feegle are given a full chapter, which might be viewed as insufficient as you read it. Granny Aching truly deserves a book of her own. The chapter on Heroes is extensive, justifiably, when you discover the variety of Heroes Pratchett has introduced to us. Finally, almost as icing on a delicious cake, the authors provide a "Bibliography and Suggestions for Further Reading". Plan your book budget carefully.

For those in North America who think this book might be too limited in scope to be worth the investment, think carefully of your own family ancestry. While much of the material is limited to the British Isles, no small part is derived from the rest of Europe and elsewhere. Those tales and legends your ancestors took on board ship to cross the Atlantic didn't go over the rail with breakfast at the first roll of the vessels on the high seas. Those stories survived to take root here and sprout new versions of themselves in the new environment. Go through this book and see if you can't find a few you recognise. Besides the bloody elves and the obese bloke with the demented laugh. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Informative and entertaining! Feb. 12 2010
By Chris Swanson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I've always found myself fascinated by some of the customs and beliefs I read about in the Discworld series. Some of them, like the Names Have Power trope or Baba Yaga's hut, are common to most fantasy. But others are, like the idea that standing stones get up and move around or the magpie rhymes, ones I've never come across outside of the series.

So it was with great glee that I ordered this book from Amazon's UK site at the same time as I was placing an order for other things (note to Americans: if you want books and DVDs and the like you can't get here, you can't beat Amazon UK or Amazon Canada. The shipping fees are even pretty reasonable!). I was looking forward to a good read and was not disappointed.

The book is surprisingly dense. I hadn't expected much more than a basic overview of some of the folklore from the series, but what I got instead was a thick, detailed tome describing in great detail not just what the people in Discworld believe, but how it relates to customs and beliefs here in the real world.

This book covers all the Discworld books, including the most recent, "Unseen Academicals". I'd recommend it for fans who had have read most, if not all, of the books, but I'd also recommend it to people who just have an interest in folklore, since you'll find quite a lot here.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Interesting background, but not the most exciting read April 23 2011
By S. Lionel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Folklore of Discworld looks at the Earthly sources (or similarities) of the "folkloric" aspects of Terry Pratchett's Discworld universe. It alternates quotes from the series with scholarly text about similar tales, legends and customs that can be found on Earth. It made me appreciate Pratchett's efforts and research even more, but after about halfway through, I started to lose interest. I did finish the book, but for a while I strongly debated just putting it aside. If only the non-Pratchett writing was half as entertaining as Pratchett's own.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The mythic background for the Terry Pratchett's mythic Discworld April 17 2014
By Thomas Huffman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sir Terry Pratchett has created an entire world, with its own culture, races, technology (mostly technomancy).....and myth cycles. Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson give Discworld fans a fascinating look at the terrestrial myths and mythic races (dwarves, elves, goblins, trolls) and creatures (vampires, werewolves, zombies, golems.) that gave rise to their Discworld counterparts.

One good example is Discworld elves. Sir Terry's elves (Lords and Ladies, The Wee Free Men) are closer to the myths of Europe and the British Isles than Tolkien and other recent fantasy writers. When Irish peasants referred to "The Lords and Ladies," "The Gentry," or "The Shining Ones," it was because they were scared shitless of them! They were beyond mischievous; they were capricious, often cruel.

He has re-interpreted other mythic races and creatures: Discworld vampires are basically the romanticized character we see in 19th and 20th century novels and 20th and 21st Century cinema; but, with interesting twists: "Black Ribboners" have sworn off human blood ("the b-vord") to integrate into society.

Discworld readers with an interest in folklore and mythology will find The Folklore of Discworld entertaining.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Pratchett-ish Book Aug. 9 2014
By Al Hence - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mr. Pratchett allegedly once said that he looks at folklore "the way a carpenter looks at trees." This book examines the various bits and pieces of folklore that Mr. Pratchett felled and adapted to his own purposes in the long-running Discworld series. It is one of a few books written recently that attempt to siphon off a part of Mr. Pratchett's fan base by expanding on some aspect of the series (e.g. The Science of Discworld, etc.). It seems directed exclusively toward that special interest: the legion of Pratchett/Discworld fans. Unfortunately, except for a two and a half page intro, Mr. Pratchett's contribution consists solely of excerpts from his various Discworld books (including the most recent "Raising Steam"). The remainder is written by folklorist Jacqueline Simpson who attempts a Pratchett-ish voice with varying success. It's hard to imagine many people not familiar with Mr. Pratchett's series would read this for sheer entertainment value.


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