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The Irresistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre Hardcover – April 8, 2012


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The Irresistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre + The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales + The Classic Fairy Tales (Norton Critical Editions)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; F First Edition, 1st Printing edition (April 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691153388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691153384
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #874,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Co-Winner of the 2012 Wayland D. Hand Prize, History and Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2012

"Zipes is a powerful defender of folklore and succeeds in exploring its role in cultural history as well as its influence today."--Maria Taylor, Times Literary Supplement

"Zipes is the undisputed 'king' of the literary criticism of fairy tales kingdom. . . . A rich, persuasive, magical brew, graced by seven illustrations."--Choice

"Zipes is considered one of the true experts on fairy tales. He brings considerable erudition to the book which covers some broad issues in fairy-tale analysis, such as how they spread . . . and the role of women collectors and narrators."--Nidhi Mathur, Organiser

"In showing how and why fairy tales have become a core part of our central being, Zipes reveals his extensive scholarship in the field, as well as his skill in expounding profoundly about his key interests and concerns relating to the fairy tale genre. This scholarly masterpiece, which has emerged from decades of thought on the subject, deserves a place in all literary collections, as well as consideration by all those concerned with this particular genre."--Lois Henderson, Book Pleasures

"Zipes is one of a handful of today's true experts on the fairy tale. Needless to say, he brings considerable erudition to this book, which covers some broad issues in fairy tale analysis such as how they spread (he takes his lead from Richard Dawkins's theory of cultural memes) and the role of women collectors and narrators. . . . General readers with an interest in fairy tales will definitely enjoy what Zipes has to say."--David Azzolina, Library Journal

"From Sumerian fables to Catherine Breillat's cinematic interpretations, fairy tales have traveled far. Professor Jack Zipes follows the evolution of a genre of folklore that serves to discretely communicate knowledge and experience. Reaching beyond our childhood memories of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, he explores the characters and tales that have thrived over the centuries, detailing especially French and Russian tales that have endured, albeit sometimes with a change of focus. . . . This is not a book for the beach but the fruits of a study researched over several decades and offered especially to an academic readership. As such, the considerable chapter notes, bibliography, provocative illustrations, and index are all fitting."--Jane Manaster, Sacramento Book Review

"Zipes traces the origin of storytelling back to a primal past. . . . The reason they survive to this day, Zipes suggests, is because the classic fairy tales--such as Snow White, Cinderella, and Rapunzel, which all have analogues in cultures throughout the world--are perfect examples of 'memetic' engineering."--Adam Kirsch, Prospect

"Zipes spends much of The Irresistible Fairy Tale pointing out the hidden gems in the fairy tale's history and present--the ignored fabulists and movements that better embodied the revolutionary spirit of fable-telling."--Max Ross, Open Letters Monthly

"The Irresistible Fairy Tale establishes a greater link with the social and natural sciences to explain the appeal of the fairytale. Zipes puts fairytales centre stage in Western culture, in a series of chapters that focus on lesser-known stories and authors. Zipes shows how fairytales mutate to ensure that the stories remain relevant to contemporary audiences, such as the feminist overturning of the traditional patriarchal fairytales in new interpretations of stories such as Little Red Riding Hood. The Irresistible Fairy Tale will appeal to both the academic and the general reader."--Colin Steele, Canberra Times

"The Irresistible Fairy Tale strikes gold in giving due attention to a number of neglected female storytellers and collectors. In truth, Zipes could have written an entire book on Laura Gonzenbach, Bozena Nemcova, Nannette Levesque, and Rachel Busk."--Belinda Webb, Review 31

"Zipes is, of course, the undisputed dean of fairy tale studies in the US. . . . In The Irresistible Fairy Tale, Zipes draws on and extends is prior work. He both celebrates the fairy tale as a subversive form and analyzes it as a nearly living creature, evolving from a dim past into the multifarious forms it takes today."--Elisabeth Rose Gruner, Children's Literature

"The Irresistible Fairy Tale follows the theoretical trajectory established in [Zipes's] earlier works with a broad range of well-researched, lucidly-written chapters that are supported by informative notes, a bibliography divided into literary and critical works, and a detailed index. Each chapter can stand alone, but read together they offer compelling testimony to Zipes's sheer range of expertise and analytical insight."--Kirsten Mllegaard, Folklore

"Zipes is as always impressively erudite but wears his knowledge like a linen suit."--Richard Marshall, 3AM Magazine

"The Irresistible Fairy Tale is another informative contribution from this prolific and influential scholar."--Martha P. Hixon, Children's Literature Association Quarterly

"[This book presents] a broad range of well-researched, lucidly-written chapters that are supported by informative notes, a bibliography divided into literary and critical works, and detailed index. Each chapter can stand alone, but read together they offer compelling testimony to Zipes's sheer range of expertise and analytical insight."--Kirsten Møllegaard, Folklore

From the Inside Flap

"This is Zipes's magnum opus, the culmination of more than thirty years of research, and his broadest consideration yet of the fairy tale. He tackles very difficult fundamental questions, and provides credible theoretical foundations and historical evidence for the answers he proposes. Ultimately, he redirects the conversation about the origins, nature, and appeal of the fairy tale."--Donald Haase, editor of Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies

"Liberating, stringent, and new, this book demonstrates Zipes's unique and important affection for fairy tales while opening new lines of thinking about them. The Irresistible Fairy Tale--like fairy tales themselves--will appeal to both scholars and general readers. Its enlightening tone is irresistibly good."--Kate Bernheimer, author of Horse, Flower, Bird: Stories and editor of Fairy Tale Review

"This is an important examination of the elusive quality of the fairy tale. Everywhere in evidence is Zipes's mastery of the subject, his capacity to engage with its folkloric, literary, social, and cultural aspects, and his ability to communicate with general readers as well as specialists."--Graham Anderson, University of Kent


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Priscilla Manwaring on June 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Zipes is a noted scholar and a real authoritiy on the fairy tale. This book demonstrates some of his very detailed knowledge. But as a whole, the book does not quite cohere. It is not the history of a genre, but a partial history of the European fairy tale and a very limited discussion of modern directions the fairy tale has taken in print and non-print media in modern British and American culture. It is also a rebuttal of certain other scholars who have emphasized the fairy tale as an elite literary development which spread to the "folk" generally rather than the other way around. I agree with Zipes and I think he is right but I do not think he makes a convincing case here. For those college students new to folklore, there is not enough explanation of terms. Partly this is a point that Zipes is making; the terms are very difficult to define explicitly. M. Gubar makes a similar point about children's literature in her discusssions (elsewhere) of that topic, but her approach is much more reasoned and persuasive than the approach Zipes takes here. I should add that Zipes is a prolific author who has written on the issues in this book in many of his other books so it is understandable that he does not want to rehash what he has said before. Nevertheless, if a reader only peruses this one book under review, the social and cultural history of the genre that the subtitle indicates will be lacking. Zipes is particularly good here on the subversive elements of the fairy tale, and the way in which the gender of fairy tale collectors, writers, and adaptors influences what they collect, write, and adapt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Lowry on January 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As other reviewers have noted, this 2012 volume is a useful synopsis of the Big Ideas and Big Questions in the study of folk and fairy tales. It seems safe to say that there can be few aspects of this area of scholarship that Zipes has not considered and analyzed. His breadth of knowledge and analytic ingenuity contribute to the case he makes quite convincingly, here: that these little stories can offer us significant insights.

I was particularly interested in the many unfamiliar tales Zipes reproduces in the chapter on "innocent persecuted heroines." The question of why some stories provoke retellings, while other stories are forgotten, is a fascinating one. The implications of these cultural choices are political, of course--but more fundamentally, they tell us something useful about the way our brains work.

This book is valuable for casual readers; for those of us new to the study of fairy tales; and--I would think--for scholars of the field.
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By karolina on December 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jack Zipes is a master at his craft: writing on fairy & folk tales! He is one of the best living today. This is another great literary work in his catalog and a must read
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Becca on October 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book greatly, although some of it is repetitious from his other books. If you read just one of Jack Zipes' books, though, it should be this one.

The only thing keeping it from 5 stars is that I wish he'd provide more translations of foreign-language story titles. He seems to expect that everyone speaks fluent German and French.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chiang Yow June on August 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a volume that gathers Zipes's previous researches altogether, forming another angle into this specific genre. Really helpful for my study!
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