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Spells of Enchantment: The Wondrous Fairy Tales of Western Culture Hardcover – November 14, 1991


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Besides editing this massive volume and translating many of its selections, Zipes, professor of German at the University of Minnesota, has provided a thorough introduction. As one would expect, the tales are of good and evil (and evil is more insidious to modern readers attuned to Freud and the currents of sexism and misogyny); often they use fantasy to come to terms with society, either by superceding the status quo or grudgingly accepting it. Zipes reaches back to the second century to show that the heritage of fantasy in Western culture runs deep. And modern technology has done nothing to dampen inspiration: More than half of the 67 tales collected here were written in the 20th century by such authors as Twain, Strindberg, Rilke, Philip K. Dick, Robin McKinley, Tanith Lee and Stanislaw Lem. Unless one is an aficionado of the genre, however, most of the stories will be unfamiliar, or variations one has never read or heard before. Among the latter are three modern takes on the Snow White tale. The seventh dwarf is the eponymous narrator of the tale by Franz Hessel, while Robert Coover's "The Dead Queen," the most erotic story in the collection, is narrated by Prince Charming. The Bluebeard myth also gets new treatments, courtesy of Thackeray, Anatole France and Sylvia Townshend Warner. Despite the illustrious contributors, the collection has some low spots, but there are enough good entries here to keep readers interested, if not totally enchanted.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Nearly 70 classics of the literary fairy tale (written for adults) fill this unique and fascinating anthology. The genre attracted such luminaries (represented here) as Voltaire, Goethe, Thackeray, Hawthorne, Yeats, Strindberg, Rilke, Hesse, and Apollinaire, as well as contemporary masters like Calvino, Lem, Coover, and Tournier. As the chronological order of these selections shows, the orientation and emphasis of the "wonder tales" have shifted over time. But the genre remains a vehicle for the utopian hope of personal or societal redemption and transformation, even amidst the harshest realities. Zipes offers a useful overview of the genre's historical evolution, but his own ideological stance adds an element of the provocative to his many insightful observations. Besides its importance for literary and cultural institutions, this "wonder-full" collection will surprise and delight the ordinary reader in search of the extraordinary.
- Patricia Dooley, Univ. of Washington Lib. Sch., Seattle
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; Open market ed edition (November 14, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670830534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670830534
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,547,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
Jack Zipes has edited many excellent "fantasy" anthologies.
Jem
There is something in here for every taste, and Zipes is picky enough about quality that every story is well-written even if it's not in your favorite style.
Kelly (Fantasy Literature)
This book is a classic, in a class of its own, and you should buy it if you have the slightest weakness for such stories.
Laurie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
i love fairy tale compliations because they are great to set your mind at ease after a long day. this one is particularly good. the stories are from authors such as Jean-Jacque Rosseau, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, William Hawthorne, and so on. It's a who's who from classical to comtemporary authors, political figures, and philosophers. Because of the variety of contributors, each story is very different, smart and compelling in it's own right. the stories range from about 5 pages to over 30. it is definately not a children's fairy book, but can awaken and inspire the child in all of us. because it includes about 60 different tales, it can be reread time and time again. just a great book to have around.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on February 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
From Apuleius to Tanith Lee, _Spells of Enchantment_ is filled with fairy tales written through the ages. If you like adult fairy tales, don't hesitate for another moment. There is something in here for every taste, and Zipes is picky enough about quality that every story is well-written even if it's not in your favorite style. My only gripe is that it ends on a down note, with a depressing story by de Larrabeiti. I liked the story, but I wanted a happy tale at the close of the book. But that's just a quirk of mine. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jem TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
Jack Zipes has edited many excellent "fantasy" anthologies. This one takes a slightly different tact than most, pulling from a variety of cultures over a long history. You won't find many modern fantasy authors within. Only Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee and Robin McKinley stand out as outstanding recent authors. Zipes reaches all the way back to the Second Century for the first tale, "Cupid and Psyche" by Apuleius, and continues on with well known classic authors like Goethe, Hawthorne, Hans Christian Anderson, Oscar Wilde, Yeates and even Mark Twain. There are 67 tales included spanning the Second Century to the 1980's. Great authors from nearly every literary movement appear and give the reader a tour of the genre.

Readers will find well known tales like "Sleeping Beauty" and "Rumpelstiltskin," but also some lesser known gems like "The Seven Wives of Bluebeard" and "Spiegel the Cat." This collection is a great way to get a young fantasy fan to enjoy the work of classical authors that may have a stigma attached to them (I have to read that for school!) Readers should note that the language of the tales has been altered to the vernacular. So, Cupid and Psyche is told in a straightforward manner without the archaic structures used by the original author. Purists may gasp at the audacity, but new readers will be grateful for the translation! The tone and heart of the stories remain intact. This is a huge work with something nearly everyone can enjoy. Overall, a very well done anthology that is more than worth the price of admission.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laurie on December 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Few things in life delight me more than collections of strange and wondrous stories. I have acquired a number over the years, but this one beats them all. The editor is known as an authority on the subject: it's easy to imagine a different anthology, but very difficult to imagine a better one.

Jack Zipes is a Professor of German and it's the German Romantic tales here that please me the most: Novalis' "Hyacinth and Roseblossom", the epitome of Romantic swooning, E.T.A. Hoffmann's haunting "Mines of Falun", and Theodor Storm's extraordinary parable "Hinzelmeier", which I had never read or heard of until I found it here.

As we get into the 20th century the conventions remain but the tone changes. Satire, irony, existential questioning and altered angles of vision replace old-fashioned magic. But every story here is well worth reading and many would be next to impossible to find elsewhere. A few old favourites are included, and some of these stories could be read to children, but on the whole the book is aimed at adults who have kept an appetite for wonder.

I completely, utterly and diametrically disagree with the view of the Wonder-Tale that Zipes expresses in his Introduction, but that scarcely matters. (If it starts to aggravate me seriously I can always cut it out with a stationery-knife and a ruler.) This book is a classic, in a class of its own, and you should buy it if you have the slightest weakness for such stories. Still better, buy it for any wonder-tale enthusiast you may know: it can't fail to please.
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