Wednesday, November 10, 2010

World Tales: The Extraordinary Coincidence of Stories Told in All Times, in All Places by Idries Shah

World Tales : The Extraordinary Coincidence of Stories Told in All Times, in All Places

World Tales: The Extraordinary Coincidence of Stories Told in All Times, in All Places by Idries Shah is another spectacular collection of world folktales.  I mentioned collections by Yolen and Cole the other day, but this is another top choice that I've been learning more about recently.

Now World Tales: The Extraordinary Coincidence of Stories Told in All Times, in All Places by Idries Shah was originally published in 1979. The edition pictured above is the only one still in print and contains a wonderful amount of tales with short introductions. Great resource.  But I will let you in on a secret.  Look for the 1979 edition if you want something extra special.  I have a feeling this is one of the fairy tale collections many readers have been searching for over the years, but I was unaware of it and thus couldn't identify it.  (My success rate is about 10% on those types of queries, usually due to limited information of the request versus the hundreds upon hundreds of fairy tales collections published over the years.)

The issue is that the most recent edition has only the tales--nothing to sneeze at.  It's worthy of your shelf space.  But the original edition was essentially a coffee table sized book with beautiful illustrations by many, many different illustrators, one for each tale. It is an amazing book, especially considering when it was published.  Books like this one weren't as common during that time.  Here's the image of the cover.  You can find used copies on Amazon at the 1979 edition page.

And here are some of the illustrations courtesy of Amazon customers:

The Skillfull Brothers by Chris McEwan

The Mastermaid by Peter Richardson

Here's the table of contents to give you an idea of the variety of tales:

Tales of a Parrot
Dick Whittington
Don't Count Your chickens
The Hawk and the Nightingale
Cenino the Tiny
Her Lover's Heart
The New Hand
The Mastermaid
The Hermit
The Maiden Wiser than the Tsar
The Travelling Companion
The Riddles
The Grateful Animals and the Ungrateful Man
The Value of a Treasure Hoard
Patient Griselda
How Evil Produces Evil
The Ghoul and the Youth of Ispahan
The Pilgrim from Paradise
The Blind Ones & the Mater of the Elephant
Anpu and Bata
God Is Stronger
The Happiest Man in the World
The Gorgon's Head
The Brahmin's Wife and the Mongoose
The Magic Bag
Catherine's Fate
The Desolate Island
Gazelle Horn
Tom Tit Tot
The Silent Couple
Childe Rowland
The Tale of Mushkil Gusha
The Food of Paradise
The Lamb with the Golden Fleece
The Man with the Wen
The Skilful Brothers
The Algonquin Cinderella
The Kindly Ghost
The Ass in Panther Skin
The Water of Life
The Serpent
The Wonderful Lamp
Who Was the Most Generous?
Cupid and Psyche
The Royal Detectives
Conflict of the Magicians
False Witnesses
The Cobbler who Became an Astrologer
The Two Travellers
The Fisherman and His Wife
Impossible Judgement
Hudden and Dudden and Donald O'Neary
Riquet with the Tuft
The Lost Camel
The Beggar and the Gazelle
The Apple on the Boy's Head
The Boots of Hunain
The Three Caskets
The Land Where Time Stood Still
The Man Turned into a Mule
The Fox and the Hedgehog
The Bird Maiden
The Slowest May Win the Race
The Three Imposters
You can see a larger selection of the illustrations on the Idries Shah website but alas the illustrators are not directly credited.  Alan Lee and several others are also represented in the mix.

And I am writing this post in response to a query on another blog, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books at HABO: Looking for Old Fairy Tales. I was shocked I was able to identify it.  Assuming I have, but I'm pretty confident about this one for once...


  1. Thank you so much! Yes, you were absolutely right! I am amused at what my childhood brain forgot(how could i remember the white frame of the cover and not the central, glorious and strange image?) and so pleased and impressed that my broken (and slightly twisted) memory fragments were enough for you. You won the Internet forever and after, as far as I'm concerned, and now I need to buy many of your cafe press items in gratitude. Oh dear, such a hardship, however will I choose which beautiful item(s) to pick?

    Thank you thank you thank you!


  2. You are quite welcome! I'm always happy when I solve the mystery of a childhood favorite.