The Folklore of Discworld Paperback – 8 Oct 2009
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"One of the most interesting and critically underrated novelists we have... The Folklore of Discworld - co-authored with the eminent folklorist Jacqueline Simpson - emphasises his irreverence and drollery" (The Times)
"Pratchett is, like Mark Twain, or Jonathan Swift, not just a great writer but also an original thinker... funny, exciting, lighthearted and, like all the best comedy, very serious" (Guardian)
"Simpson provides depth to the real-world analogues of the Discworold characters, and the text becomes a neatly integrated discussion of folklore, belief systems and the like in both worlds... well written and will raise a smile... a fine Hogswatch present." (Fortean Times)
Pratchett is, like Mark Twain, or Jonathan Swift, not just a great writer but also an original thinker.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is split into chapters covering different aspects of the Discworld, e.g. the animals of the Discworld, the country of Lancre. Unlike the "Science of the Discworld" books, there isn't also a story to follow, only the description of the use of folklore. Don't expect to find full annotations of every reference to folklore in each of the Discworld books - it is more an extended essay on the subject, with good examples from the novels chosen to illustrate interesting points.
For fans of the Discworld familiar with the novels, it can be an illuminating experience reading this book - there were certainly times where I said to myself "I never knew that!". However, it is unlikely to be of interest to people who are not familiar with the Discworld universe, and there are even a few small spoilers which may annoy fans who haven't yet read all of the books.
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much and was only slightly disappointed because there isn't really any new Discworld in it - however it supports the Discworld novels very well and did increase my enjoyment of them!
Pratchett and Simpson sort all this out - and much else besides - in this delightful work on matters folklorish. Typically, the prompt for the book was Pratchett chanting as he signed a previous release: "How many versions of the Magpie Song do you know?" A distinguished-looking lady gave the query a moment's thought and responded "about nineteen" Thus began the wonderful collaboration leading to FoD. It's typical also of the theme of the book. Discworld and Roundworld [Earth] are linked by the universal presence of narrativium, which Dimitri Mendeleev inexplicably omitted from the Periodic Table. Pratchett knows all about narrativium, carefully explaining how it drifts between universes, carrying ideas or stimulating new ones. Folklore on the Discworld compared to that of Earth may demonstrate strong similarities, or just vague likenesses that have been severely modified. The process is unhelpful, the authors note, in determining which world is the source of the story, which is sometimes a let-down.
The book's organisation is appropriate for what it must cover - it begins with the entire universe.Read more ›
However, if you have read several Discworld books, or, better, lots of them, then this is facinating since it ties together unexplained oddities and also shows some of the thinking behind the quirky ideas. Some of the strangest are based on the reality found here on the Roundworld.
Jacqueline Simpson has an excellent light and humorous style and I soon gave up wondering who wrote which bits, and just enjoyed the book.
I would have liked more of it, but then that is always true of good things.
Because of that, you’re not going to be able to fully appreciate the book unless you’ve read a good chunk of Pratchett’s Discworld series – that said, there are plenty of thorough explanations of our own mythology as well, and so you’d still get a decent amount from it. It might even make you want to check out some of the Discworld books!
Simply put, Terry and Jacqueline segment some of the traditions of the Discworld into different categories, and then they systematically explain both the fictional tradition and its real-life equivalents – some of them are obvious, like the Hogfather being similar to Santa Claus, while others are tenuous links at best which still serve to show how much research Pratchett has done in to the field over the years.
Sure, it’s occasionally heavy-going, and it takes quite a long time to read, but it’s not as difficult as plenty of other books on the market – it’s a bit like how watching Q.i. takes up more of your brainpower than watching Deal Or No Deal does. Thing is, if you’re in to this sort of fantasy stuff, then you’re going to love it regardless, and you’ll find that it’s well worth the time investment that it takes if you plan to read the book from cover to cover.
To give you an idea of what to expect, the book is split in to sixteen different sections, covering everything from the different races (dwarfs, elves, the Nac Mag Feegle, trolls and others) to beasties, witches, heroes, lore, legends and, of course, Death.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had avoided buying this simply because I thought it would simply cover old ground, but I bought it as a stress-buster when I needed some relaxing reading - and I really enjoyed... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Jane
I was unsure of what to expect from this book . Very different to later books in the series . It is worth reading just for the twist & turn of Terry's imagination.Published 8 months ago by Geoff
I've always had an interest in folklore, that's partly why I chose to write my short story The Lambton Worm which is based on a tale from old English folklore but with some modern... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Martyn Stanley
As always Terry Pratchett is a brilliant writer with a brilliant sense of humour. I would recommend his books to anyonePublished 10 months ago by Catherine Smaridge