Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Library Essentials Month: The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales

The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales is yet another Zipes title ending up on this month's library essentials list. But this one shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. I remember preordering this one in 2000, eager to see within its pages. I was quite happy with it and still am.

This is a fun browsing book since many of the entries are rather esoteric, rare and not commonly thought of. However, there are several entries one might expect that are missing, so it's not a perfect reference book. I also think the publishing constraints of page number allowance and time probably hindered it. I could go into a long discussion of what is missing and what isn't--missing names that have had more of an impact than some of the names that appear within, for example--but I really don't want to go there because I do highly recommend the book and accept it as is. And, honestly, the unusual names help me more because I am not as familiar with them. I know the big names, so it's a fine resource for me. It's the more obscure that I tend to forget or never knew.

Worth the price of admission alone is the article on approaches to fairy tale studies found under "Approaches to the Literary Fairy Tale," not a listing one would first imagine consulting this book to find. It lists and discusses the most popular approaches including (1) Folkloricist, (2) Structuralism (Propp), (3) Literary (Luthi), (4) Psychoanalysis: Jungian and Freudian, (5) Historicist, Sociological and Ideological, and (6) Feminist. This is a great place to get an overview of the various approaches to studying the fairy tale, all of which I have tried to address in some way on the SurLaLune main site. I tend to gather my favorite parts from all of those approaches myself. I probably should do a week or even month on the blog about folklore approaches although this library essentials month is offering up many of the important titles in these approaches.

Book description from the publisher:

From its ancient roots in the oral tradition to the postmodernist reworkings of the present day, the fairy tale has retained its powerful hold over the cultural imagination of Europe and North America. Now The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales provides the first authoritative reference source for this complex, captivating genre.

With more than 800 entries written by a team of 67 specialists from around the world, the Companion offers an illuminating look at the classic tales themselves, both ancient and modern, from Jack and Jill and Cinderella to Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz. The contributors also profile the writers who wrote or reworked these luminous tales, as well as the illustrators, film-makers, choreographers, and composers who have been involved with creating or interpreting them. The Companion also covers such related topics as film, art, opera, ballet, music, even advertising. An introductory overview by Jack Zipes sets the subject in its historical and literary context, and special survey articles explore the development of the fairy-tale tradition in individual countries, focusing particularly on the European and North American traditions. The volume includes a detailed bibliography, to aid in further research into this fascinating topic.

Strikingly illustrated with 70 beautiful pictures, from early engravings to 20th-century film stills, this is an essential companion for everyone who loves fairy tales and storytelling.

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