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The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves & Other Little People Hardcover – September 5, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Gramercy; 1st edition (September 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517263130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517263136
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

A fascinating compendium of folklore, superstitions, and mythology surrounding the 'little people', including discussions of fairy tradition as it appears in great works of English literature.

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Customer Reviews

My husband loves this book.
Maude E. Scofield
In short, this would be a great textbook for a class on the history of Faerie.
Shawn S.
A book worth buying and keeping.
Naomi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Shawn S. on January 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book was originally published in 1880 and is an excellent history of the shaping of Faerie. It starts with the origin of the term and then documents the development of the ideas and tales of Fairies in many cultures. This book is full of summaries of stories, portions of text in their original language (some of which also appear translated), footnotes to naming conventions, pronunciations, criticisms, etc. I agree with the other reviewer that this book is not for everyone and in many cases is a tough read, but it is well worth it. In short, this would be a great textbook for a class on the history of Faerie.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book explores fairies and other fantastic characters in different folklore like german and english, but also in different times, from Persia to Middle-Age.
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.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It's a credit to Thomas Keightley's "World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves & Other Little People" that it's still a relevant mythologic source today, over a hundred years after it was first published. The stories, explanations and legends are still as informative as they were in 1880, although they are rather restricted.

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.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Farr-weinfeld on January 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am so thrilled to see that this book is still in print. When I was a child, I used to read and re-read an originally published copy (still called The Fairy Mythology then) in her dusty, musty library. I've searched and searched for the book, not even able to recall the title until the other day, when I typed in the original title and came up with the re-print. What a wonderful treat to know that I will be able to own a copy again. It completely cast a mysterious, magical spell over my adolescence. You will love this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christopher R. Travers on September 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Note that I have the 1978 reprint, so the typesetting issues are not present in that edition.

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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Naomi on September 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I picked this book up at the library and instantly fell in love with it. I could not be more pleased to find it online so that I could buy it and highlight it and pet it... Ahem. I mean, place it on my shelf in a dignified manner.

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.
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