Sunday, October 16, 2011

Library Essentials Month: Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre by Jack Zipes

Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre by Jack Zipes is today's library essential. When I started compiling the list for this theme months ago, I admit I had problems coming up with 31 titles. Of course, not all of these books are as essential as others and some others that are important didn't make it onto this list either. But when it came to Jack Zipes, I was afraid of overwhelming the list with his work. I really didn't want this to be Jack Zipes month! And it isn't. But Zipes is one of the most published names in the field and his work has had a strong impact on fairy tale studies over the past several decades. Many of his books are translations of fairy tales or volumes edited by him. This one--Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre--is a great introducton to Zipes' philosophy of fairy tales, where you can read his theories and arguments and decide what to embrace yourself. Again, you need to be familiar with his work if you are going to work with fairy tales or even be somewhat enthusiastic about them.

And this book shares more reasons why fairy tales are so important so its wonderful if you need voices in your head explaining this more than, "because..." And the other great part is that Zipes is readable and approachable. This book can be shared with high schoolers, at least mature ones. You're not reading and trying to parse Propp here, who to be fair didn't write in English anyway.

Book description from the publisher:

In his latest book, fairy tales expert Jack Zipes explores the question of why some fairy tales "work" and others don't, why the fairy tale is uniquely capable of getting under the skin of culture and staying there. Why, in other words, fairy tales "stick." Long an advocate of the fairy tale as a serious genre with wide social and cultural ramifications, Jack Zipes here makes his strongest case for the idea of the fairy tale not just as a collection of stories for children but a profoundly important genre.

Why Fairy Tales Stick contains two chapters on the history and theory of the genre, followed by case studies of famous tales (including Cinderella, Snow White, and Bluebeard), followed by a summary chapter on the problematic nature of traditional storytelling in the twenty-first century.

Table of contents:

Ch. 1. Toward a theory of the fairy tale as literary genre. 1.
Ch. 2. The evolution and dissemination of the classical fairy tale. 41.
Ch. 3. Once upon a time in the future : the relevance of fairy tales. 91.
Ch. 4. The moral strains of fairy tales and fantasy. 129.
Ch. 5. The male key to Bluebeard's secret. 155.
Ch. 6. Hansel and Gretel : on translating abandonment, fear, and hunger. 195.
Ch. 7. To be or not to be eaten : the survival of traditional storytelling. 223

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