Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales / Edition 2

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This revised, expanded, and updated edition of the 1979 landmark Breaking the Magic Spell examines the enduring power of fairy tales and the ways they invade our subjective world. In seven provocative essays, Zipes discusses the importance of investigating oral folk tales in their socio-political context and traces their evolution into literary fairy tales, a metamorphosis that often diminished the ideology of the original narrative. Zipes also looks at how folk tales influence our popular beliefs and the ways they have been exploited by a corporate media network intent on regulating the mystical elements of the stories. He examines a range of authors, including the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Ernst Bloch, Tolkien, Bettelheim, and J.K. Rowling to demonstrate the continuing symbiotic relationship between folklore and literature.

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Editorial Reviews

Considering classic children's fairy tales to , Zipes (German, U. of Minnesota) raises questions about such literature's intended audience, standards, role in today's culture, and what makes a good reader. In this expansion of his seminal 1979 sociopolitical study, he analyzes the history, original utopian function, and "culture industry's" commercialization of such tales. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"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 (

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813190303
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 7/28/2002
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 790,322
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface to 2002 Edition
Preface to 1979 Edition
Introductory Fairy Tales
1 Once There Was a Time: An Introduction to the History and Ideology of Folk and Fairy Tales 1
2 Might Makes Right - The Politics of Folk and Fairy Tales 23
3 The Revolutionary Rise of the Romantic Fairy Tale in Germany 47
4 The Instrumentalization of Fantasy: Fairy Tales, the Culture Industry and Mass media 104
5 The Utopian Function of Fairy Tales and Fantasy: Ernst Bloch the Marxist and J.R.R. Tolkien the Catholic 146
6 On the Use and Abuse of Folk and Fairy Tales with Children: Bruno Bettelheim's Moralistic Magic Wand 179
7 The Radical Morality of Rats, Fairies, Wizards and Ogres: Taking Children's Literature Seriously 206
Notes 233
Bibliography 253
Index 271
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