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Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales Paperback – Jul 1 2002

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Pr of Kentucky; Revised ed. edition (July 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813190304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813190303
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 1.9 x 21.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #711,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"A stimulating contribution to the critical literature of folk and fairy tales." -- "Children's Literature Association Quarterly"

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

"All libraries should acquire this new edition of one of the most influential texts in the field." -- "Choice"

"Fairy Tales are a highly fashionable study today for literary scholars as well as folklorists, and another new book shows what a range of interest can be evoked by them. This time in Jack Zipes' interesting and vigorous study." -- "Encounter"

"Zipes reveals the extraordinary breadth of his acquaintance with both recent and classic literature in the field of folk and fairytale research." -- "Fabula"

"Zipes manages the impressive trick of communicating both detail and overview without simplifying either... the serious folklorist should should defnitely have this on his bookshelf." -- "Fortean Times"

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

"This problematic, provocative study will undoubtedly provide stimulating reading for many audiences." -- "Romantic Movement"

"Zipes has written a stimulating and important contribution to the sociology of popular literature." -- "Sociological Review"

"Places traditional tales in their socio-political, economic and cultural contexts." -- "Teacher Librarian"

"Folklorists, educators and historians will particularly find this resource to be valuable. But educators and parents will also find Zipes's ideas intriguing." -- Elizabeth Herron, "Folks and Fairies in Action ("

About the Author

Jack Zipes is professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota and the author, translator, and editor of dozens of studies and collections of folk and fairy tales. His recent books include "Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre", "Relentless Progress: The Reconfiguration of Children s Literature, Fairy Tales, and Storytelling", and "The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films".

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9ea2984c) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e87d420) out of 5 stars Great Overview of Nonstandard Folktale Theories April 28 2000
By Julia Starkey - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e87d474) out of 5 stars Great starting point for "radical" interpretations of folk and fairy tales March 4 2010
By Michael A. Duvernois - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e87d8ac) 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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e87d894) out of 5 stars Fairy tales are exposed for their importance to a developing people. Aug. 1 2011
By Mary Ann Hazen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fairy tales are an important part of our personal lives. We all grew up most probably hearing these tales before our bed times. These tales do include much of the wisdom we today accept as common knowedge. We need to better appreciate their importance not only to children, but to the child within all of us.
HASH(0x9e87dc54) 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.