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Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre Paperback – 27 Sep 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; New Ed edition (27 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415977819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415977814
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 481,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


2007 Katharine Briggs Award

"Why Fairy Tales Stick is outstanding scholarship that offers an original, thoroughly researched, and historically grounded approach to the study of fairy tales. It captures the essence of what the tales at their best should reflect which are engaging and imaginative stories that inspire readers to learn more about the subject." --Carlnita P. Green, Nazareth College, The Journal of Popular Culture

"Why Fairy Tales Stick is both a welcome addition to the expanding area of books about fairy tales and a useful teaching resource." --Kimberly Reynolds, Newcastle University, Modern Language Review


"The real treasures in this book, however, are Zipe's energetic expertise and his unabashedly personal concern for the part fairy tales play in the unfolding triumphs and tragedies of human life in our time." --Maggi Michel, University of California, Los Angeles, Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies.


About the Author

Jack Zipes is Professor of German at the University of Minnesota. An acclaimed translator and scholar of children's literature and culture, his many books include Hans Christian Andersen: The Misunderstood Storyteller and Speaking Out: Storytelling and Creative Drama for Children, both published by Routledge.

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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Highly theoretical and inaccessible 25 Mar. 2012
By lifelonglearner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was assigned reading for a children's literature course. It is extremely dense, highly theoretical, and somewhat inaccessible. Unless fairy tales are your life and love, this is not your book. I don't know what the previous reviewer was thinking, but there is no 10 year old I know who would EVER be able to comprehend or indeed care about what Zipes argues in this book. This book would be excellent reading for a Fairy Tales Ph.D. candidate. (BTW, I am a college graduate in English and teacher of English for 13 years, so it's not that I am a disinterested or incapable reader).
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Author doesn't answer question 5 Dec. 2006
By Steve Reina - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Why fairy tales stick is a fascinating question that -- properly probed -- explains much about human cognition.

Unfortunately, and this is despite his vast volume of work in the studying fairy tales themselves, Zipes largely fails in his mission because of his unwillingness to access other areas of study to unlock the fairy mystery.

It turns out that science and evolutionary psychology have been brought to bear in helping solve this problem. And what they tell is is that there are many contributing factors to why fairy tales stick with people and why they tend to mythically ideate.

One factor is superstition. By reading the works of Stuart Vyse, one can find that superstition is invoked where logical explanations are wanting. For example, at the betting table most people tend to make various pleas to lady luck or their favorite diety.

Another factor sort of follows naturally from the first. Once a superstition has been personified it becomes an easy step to attribute to that superstition a "theory of mind." In other words, just as we speculate on the motives of those we know, we attribute motives to our illusionary personified force and act in ways to placate those motives.

According to Pascal Boyer, who has studied why people religiously ideate, a religious component can be added when our personified force is attributed omniscience and omnipotence.

Or alternatively, if dinuted of omniscience or omnipotence, our personified force can merely be something unique...like a cat that can turn invisible or a person who survives death. In each case, the characters are memorable because they defy our usual expectations of cat and human behavior.

To the extent that fairy tales often involve these characters we have a partial explanation for why they "stick."

However, they are also memorable for the situations they create. Like watching a good movie can take one to another place and time and tease out expectations of human relations, they same occurs in fairy tales. Far from being a mere diversion these case studies give us the vital opportunity to imagine what would happen if we were to be in the same situation. In other words, we do not need to actually go there to know what being there is like.

But honestly, the story is still being filled in and thanks to psychologists like Steven Pinker and V.S. Ramashandran we are still learning much about the fascinating ways our minds cognate and why not only fairy tales but other things stick as well.

So in short, you can read this book but your time would probably be better spent reading the other authors mentioned in this review.
2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Historical 29 Oct. 2008
By Judilyn Duba - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My older classroom kids love this one as they find out where their favorite fairy tales come from. This should be read under adult supervision for those under the age of 10.
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