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Summary

This audiobook explores the historical rise of the literary fairy tale as a genre in the late 17th century. In his examinations of key classical fairy tales, Zipes traces their unique metamorphoses in history with stunning discoveries that reveal their ideological relationships to domination and oppression. Tales such as Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and Rumplestiltskin have become part of our everyday culture and shapers of our identities.

In this lively work, Jack Zipes explores the historical rise of the literary fairy tale as a genre in the late 17th century and examines the ideological relationship of classic fairy tales to domination and oppression in Western society. The fairy tale received its most mythic articulation in America. Consequently Zipes sees Walt Disney's Snow White as an expression of American male individualism, film and literary interpretations of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz as critiques of American myths, and Robert Bly's Iron John as a misunderstanding of folklore and traditional fairy tales. This book will change forever the way we look at the fairy tales of our youth.

©1994 The University Press of Kentucky (P)2015 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"For many readers the fascination of these essays will lie...in the revelatory detail of his close comparative textual readings." ( Times Literary Supplement)
"Should be read by anyone who feels that our postindustrial culture has outgrown the need to express its desires and anxieties in the material of traditional narrative." ( Australian Folklore)

What listeners say about Fairy Tale as Myth/Myth as Fairy Tale

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Incredibly Useful

I found this book incredibly useful and having it as an audio book was a great resource to me! I wish there were more such books available in this form.

Zipes is one of the leading figures on the study of fairytales and should definitely be on the reading list for anyone studying fairytales. Of particular use to me was the chapter on Rumblestiltskin, spinning, and how the change in the telling of these stories relates to ideas of female productivity pre to post industrialisation.

Thank you very much!

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  • todd
  • 07-01-22

Really wanted to like

The idea behind this book and one that introduced me to the author sounded fascinating. Unfortunately, there's nothing at all here of any substance; the author throws some currently popular fad words into his theories of what was happening in the world - patriarchy, democracy, etc. - but, it more seems like he starts with some current fad and you're meant to think, "Hey, that's something I never knew was happening back then!"
That's about the extent of the scholarship here. You won't learn anything beyond some opinion that likely wasn't true. There are few mentions of those who authored or influenced fairy tale/myth and nothing given of substance, other than odd complaints about Walt Disney not giving credit to his employees or signing his name as he did. The connection to the stories and societies is as loose as 'there's a king in the story, therefore patriarcy and the fight for democracy;" nothing else given to support these things, even if we grant they 'could' be true (and, I think that's a stretch in most places here), there's nothing interesting about his claims. It seems like some of the claims could be interesting IF the author bothered to expand beyond his opinion and teach us about why he thinks as he does; share the connection to the claim and the author, to political dissidents and changing themes in society with examples and proof.
He isn't so bothered.
Usually I find with books from academics that I can find nuggets of interesting ideas or takes, even if it's painful to make it past all of the mandatory hip words they feel they need to throw into their lectures to be hip and relate to the kids, but with this title there really is nothing of substance. There are words and theories. The writing far too often seems like filler and never delivers. There was one point the author lists something like bulletpointed 9 items that he felt showed some sort of interesting subplot or concept the fairytale included where 1/3 just sounded like a filler sentence with a hip current word that the people of the time no doubt were not concerned with, and the other 2/3 were just pure speculation with nothing of substance to back up his theories (though I also don't recall anything particularly interesting).
Maybe there is something of substance and interesting in his actual work, but I don't believe that to be true and you won't find it here. I think this is closer to the current state of academia which far too often involves starting with a conclusion you want to be true, usually something that fits a current talking point with very little to do with the world of the past, and then finding the loose facts to support your pre-determined conclusion. As I've tried to share above, the 'facts' very often are extremely weak - to the extent a story about politics therefore means a struggle "for democracy."
The idea has a chance to be interesting. I'm sure there is plenty about Walt Disney and the details of some of the fairy tales he chose. What you get here is more of a student who has done no research just making claims about how he must have been a patriarch for how his signature is on things and his employees are not. The Wizard of Oz likewise has so much potential, between what many, many others have noted is the obvious ties to real world people and events. You get none of that in this title, but instead just get told over and over again how it's an American tale in some way that in the author's mind shows some 'ideal' world that the USA he's disappointed never becomes. You're told that is disappointing over and over again in typical filler, with hints there is a commentary on the ideal world having some managed political structure, but like everything else in the book... it just comes off as a theory and what the author wants to be true (because the actors and those involved in the movie I guess were, according to the author, again, no proof or actual people given).
In short, find another book. This one I can't even share is trying all that hard to be a hip opinion piece; it's more trying to give the appearance of being such without doing any work, probably right in line with the quality of the students who take his classes and don't read any of the mandatory titles.

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  • Thomas L. Packer
  • 02-02-17

Worst audiobook in my library

Neither the author nor the narrator are very good. Ridiculously abstract academic language, poor pronunciation of French names and words, unsubstantiated theories of dark origins of fairy tales.

1 person found this helpful