Monday, December 1, 2014

New Book: Children into Swans: Fairy Tales and the Pagan Imagination by Jan Beveridge

Children into Swans: Fairy Tales and the Pagan Imagination by Jan Beveridge was released a few weeks ago. I ordered a copy since it may be helpful in the next SurLaLune compilation, but I haven't received it yet.

Book description:

A lucid exploration of fairy tales and the lore of ancient stories embedded in them.

Fairy tales are alive with the supernatural - elves, dwarfs, fairies, giants, and trolls, as well as witches with magic wands and sorcerers who cast spells and enchantments. Children into Swans examines these motifs in a range of ancient stories.

Moving from the rich period of nineteenth-century fairy tales back as far as the earliest folk literature of northern Europe, Jan Beveridge shows how long these supernatural features have been a part of storytelling, with ancient tales, many from Celtic and Norse mythology, that offer glimpses into a remote era and a pre-Christian sensibility. The earliest stories often show significant differences from what we might expect. Elves mingle with Norse gods, dwarfs belong to a proud clan of magician-smiths, and fairies are shape-shifters emerging from the hills and the sea mist. In story traditions with roots in a pre-Christian imagination, an invisible other world exists alongside our own.

From the lost cultures of a thousand years ago, Children into Swans opens the door on some of the most extraordinary worlds ever portrayed in literature - worlds that are both starkly beautiful and full of horrors.

Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments • ix
Preface • xi
A Note on Spelling • xiii
Pronunciation • xv

Part One: History
1 Early Storytellers • 3
2 The Oldest “Fairy” Tale • 13
3 The Manuscript • 19
4 Folk Tales and Fairy Tales • 28

Part Two: Characters
5 Fairies • 37
6 Elves • 50
7 Dwarfs • 60
8 Household Spirits • 71
9 Water Dwellers • 79
10 Giants • 90
11 Souls and Spirits • 103

Part Three: Stories from the Pagan Year
12 Festival Days • 115
13 Beltaine • 118
14 Samain • 127
15 Midwinter and Midsummer • 136

Part Four: Storytellers’ Themes
16 Wishing, or Dreams Come True • 149
17 The Triple Form • 158
18 Shape-Shifting • 167
19 Omens and Prophecies • 177
20 Between Two Worlds • 189
21 Spells • 198
22 Trees • 205
23 The Invisible World • 214
24 A Fairy Tale Almost Forgotten • 224

Notes • 239
Selected Bibliography • 257
Index • 271

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