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Spells of Enchantment: The Wondrous Fairy Tales of Western Culture

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  214 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
"Spells of Enchantment" brings together the best literary fairy tales ever written, arranged to provide a sense of the history and evolution of this ancient genre. Focusing on the work of the most gifted writers of the great Western literary movements from classical times to the present, Jack Zipes's collection shows how some of literature's most creative minds have tried ...more
Paperback, 848 pages
Published December 1st 1992 by Penguin Books (first published 1991)
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A wonderful book that traces the development of the literary fairy tale. Zipes includes famous authors, such as Wilde and the Grimms, but he also includes less well known stories. The stories range in style, some are funny, some are dark. Most, however, are just plain good. I first read this when I was a freshman in college, and it turned me on to author's I had not read before. I have also used this in reading classes, and the students (even the males) enjoyed it.
May 11, 2015 Shari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A big book, heavy and loaded with exceptional tales. As usual, Jack Zipes presents us with a very solid and helpful introduction, and also helpful author bios in the back of the book. This is a lot of material to cover but it's worth it. Reading the earlier tales helps give added interest to the later tales by authors with whom we are more familiar. It is exciting to see who has paid attention to the history of the various fairy tale cycles, and embellished them with extraordinary literary muscl ...more
Aug 02, 2009 Adriana rated it it was amazing
I was given this amazing compendium as a child, and it resurfaced from a box in storage... forever on my bookshelf henceforth!
First Quarter review.

Having been an Anthropology major, once upon a time, and always having been interested in folklore, a big collection of Western Fairy Tales like this is pretty irresistible. It's also pretty enormous - 800 odd pages, so I've decided the only way to make this work (both with my reading schedule, inter-library loan, and an attempt to avoid burn-out) is to read it in quarters, 200 pages at a time.

The introduction to this collection is fascinating, as Zipes traces what we think
Robert Costic
Apr 14, 2014 Robert Costic rated it it was amazing
I have read many fairy tale collections and this is the best. At almost 800 pages -- just holding the physical book was an undertaking -- it covers a huge number of tales, spanning from ancient Rome to the late 1980s. It features tales written by well-known writers like H.C. Andersen and the Brothers Grimm; tales by authors known in their countries but not necessarily in the United States; and tales that appear translated into English only in this book. With such a huge selection of tales it's i ...more
Dec 20, 2012 Tristy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fairy tale nerds who can really commit!
At 814 pages, this is quite the compendium. Jack Zipes is THE researcher of folk lore and fairy tales (after C.G. Jung and Joseph Campbell, of course). As with all collections of stories written by different authors, this collection is a mixed bag and unfortunately, more bad than good. While it's fascinating to read fairy tales written by famous authors like Oscar Wilde and Hermann Hesse, there really wasn't a thread to tie them all together. They are listed in chronological order, so the storie ...more
Jun 01, 2014 Jenn rated it really liked it
It is quite the colloection, but if you read it straight through some of the stories feel repetitive because they are after all related.
Dec 18, 2014 Monica rated it liked it
The marketing blurb states that this is a "comprehensive anthology of literary fairy tales, which were written explicitly for adults, in English...the best tales of this ancient tradition". (Literary meaning those in the written form.) I was a bit disappointed that, from the thousands of tales that fit this category, the author chose to feature many "ordinary" tales and left out some truly "extraordinary" ones. Albeit subjective, the stories overall are an interesting lesson in historical perspe ...more
Ruth Ann
Jan 03, 2016 Ruth Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From oral tales to written tales, the genre of Fairy tales suggest wonder, magic, This anthology of tales written for adults will amaze and entertain you. Zipes writes an enlightening introduction that includes information on the elements of a wonder tale, the development of the genre, and how he decided to include the the works in this volume.
Brandon Kendall
Jan 17, 2008 Brandon Kendall rated it it was amazing
the evolution of fairy tales. starts with greek myth and continues to fairy tales of the middle ages and the age of enlightenment and on into modern fairy tales. (some really good voltaire and thackery)
Mar 30, 2009 Christiane rated it really liked it
The reader goes through a journey of wonder. So far I have read one fairy tale and I am walking on clouds. I love it!
Philip Chaston
Jun 02, 2013 Philip Chaston rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable. Not for those who balk at 700 pages in a book.
Hayden Chance
Oct 30, 2012 Hayden Chance rated it it was amazing
Still one of the best collections of fairy tales out there.
Ann M
Aug 17, 2007 Ann M rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
manages to be kind of dry, but still interesting
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Jack David Zipes is a retired Professor of German at the University of Minnesota. He has published and lectured extensively on the subject of fairy tales, their linguistic roots, and argued that they have a "socialization function". According to Zipes, fairy tales "serve a meaningful social function, not just for compensation but for revelation: the worlds projected by the best of our fairy tales ...more
More about Jack D. Zipes...

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“It has generally been assumed that fairy tales were first created for children and are largely the domain of children. But nothing could be further from the truth.

From the very beginning, thousands of years ago, when tales were told to create communal bonds in face of the inexplicable forces of nature, to the present, when fairy tales are written and told to provide hope in a world seemingly on the brink of catastrophe, mature men and women have been the creators and cultivators of the fairy tale tradition. When introduced to fairy tales, children welcome them mainly because they nurture their great desire for change and independence. On the whole, the literary fairy tale has become an established genre within a process of Western civilization that cuts across all ages. Even though numerous critics and shamans have mystified and misinterpreted the fairy tale because of their spiritual quest for universal archetypes or their need to save the world through therapy, both the oral and the literary forms of the fairy tale are grounded in history: they emanate from specific struggles to humanize bestial and barbaric forces, which have terrorized our minds and communities in concrete ways, threatening to destroy free will and human compassion. The fairy tale sets out to conquer this concrete terror through metaphors.”
“...the Moon, the enemy of poets...

("Merchant's Two Sons")”
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