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The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves & Other Little People Hardcover – September 5, 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
It has few black and white illustrations, but the point of this book is not to be pictorical but informative.
It's like taking a tour through different times and cultures viewing the roles fantasy characters have been playing in folklore.
Okay, "World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves and Other Little People" sounds like a cutesy title for a Brian Froud-illustrated book. And it's a rather lightweight title for a book with genuine merit -- especially the "little people" part of it, since the elves, fey and gnomes in here are anything but dainty Victorian fairies.
Instead, Keightley focuses on traditional goblins, dwarves and elves -- Scandinavian trolls and beautiful alfar, Germanic Zwerge and kobolds, British fairies, Celtic spirits and seal-men, and the epic sagas that greatly influenced early fantasy authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and George MacDonald. Take a look at the chapter on the "Eddas and Sagas," and it's hard not to think of Middle Earth.
Its one flaw is that it's restricted mostly to Europe -- there's a brief chapter on African superstitions, and one for Judaistic ones. Other than that, nothing that originates outside Europe. While it's understandable, considering the time that Keightley lived in, it's hard not to wonder if he couldn't have found out at least a few other cultural legends.
However, this is a rich source for European myths and legends, especially since Keightley obviously did his research. He includes snippets of untranslated poetry, ballads, and footnotes detailing migratory myths and differing versions. He also summarizes some of the denser material like the two Eddas, which are extremely long and sometimes difficult.Read more ›
This work was to be the authoritative study of its day on the topic of fairy folk lore. It succeeds in this role brilliantly, although much of the author's analysis is dated and/or overly simplistic. The author was a contemporary of Jacob Grimm and was clearly inspired by the various works by the Grimm brothers on cultural lore.
This work provides a general analytical overview of the lore side-by-side with the folk tales. Most of the book is taken up by source material so even if the analysis sometimes wanders. About a third of the analysis is such that I don't think that we have better conclusions today, while about a third of it is clearly obsolete. Since such analysis is the minority of the book, this is no big issue.
One point that may drive some readers crazy though is the way in which his spellings by dialect and era are far removed from the present Servian instead of Serbian, Majjar instead of Magyar, etc may drive some readers crazy. However, the bulk of the work is sufficiently interesting that I woud give this work a 5-star rating regardless of these criticisms.
Keightley tells a well-rounded tale of all sorts of fae, going into multiple cultures (which I appreciated) and going to the original languages. Although some of the language is on the higher end of the smart scale, I found it to be written in such a way that it was easily understandable. Some people may not appreciate the fact that Keightley uses phrases in different languages, sometimes not bothering to translate, but I will remind the reader that this book was written for more scholarly-types in an age where people were still taught the classical languages. In short, this book was not written for Americans, no offense.
Still, I enjoyed this book immensely. I believe Keightley writes in a captivating manner, and this comes from someone who rarely finishes non-fiction, scholarly-type, books. I would most definitely recommend it to anyone interested in folklore, faerie, or anything along those lines. A book worth buying and keeping.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good well written book with lots of knowledge of the basic kind. For more detail, a more detailed book required, good for Primary. PhilPublished 4 months ago by merlyn
This wide-ranging and attractive work (first published in 1880 under another title) discusses fairy beings primarily in Western European cultures, with a nod to other areas. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Kathy Burford
I love this book. Its in GREAT CONDITION!! Im enjoying reading all about fairy people! Thanks!Published 18 months ago by Deirdre H Dziadkowiec
Keightly has done two things for us. He has assembled all these wonderful tales in a manner that is brief and concise yet manages to present the spirit of it. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Nita Kinney
WHAT AN UNUSUAL AND EXCITING BOOK THIS IS . MY GRANDDAUGHTER SAID SHE LOVED IT AND WILL NOT PART WITH IT . IT'S BEEN ADDED TO HER EVER GROWING LIBRARY ...Published on January 21, 2014 by Ethel Isaacs
Despite what you would expect from the title, there is nothing about gnomes in this book. It was retitled in 1978 for a new edition from the original title, "The Fairy... Read morePublished on November 27, 2013 by Janet T. O'Keefe
I thought there would be more pictures of the different clans, so that I may identify the Elves who are vandlaizeing our neighborhood. Read morePublished on August 25, 2013 by gordon
My husband loves this book. He has been looking for a book that describes "little people" for a long time.Published on August 13, 2008 by Maude E. Scofield
Cleverly written, chuck full of items of interest. Just a pocket of information for the researcher.
Loved this book.