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Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales
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Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  176 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
This revised, expanded, and updated edition of the 1979 landmark Breaking the Magic Spell examines the enduring power of fairy tales and the ways they invade our subjective world. In seven provocative essays, Zipes discusses the importance of investigating oral folk tales in their socio-political context and traces their evolution into literary fairy tales, a metamorphosis ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by University Press of Kentucky (first published 1979)
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Trevor
This is a remarkably good book. It is a post-Frankfurt school, Marxist look at the significance of fairy tales. I’ve recently read The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales – a neo-Freudian interpretation of fairy tales and it is very lucky I read these books this way around, as if I’d read this one first there is very little chance I would have read the other. Not only does this book mention Bettelheim’s little problems with faking his qualifications and abusing childre ...more
Anna Smithberger
Feb 22, 2015 Anna Smithberger rated it it was ok
Zipes makes a lot of interesting and useful points but so much of this is boring. He spends most of his time saying every other scholar of fairy tales is wrong because their perspective isn't historically-based German Marxist enough, and I just really did not care for that.

He also did not have a very strong "why do we care?" aspect to his argument, so I didn't. Care, that is. Because what am I supposed to do with an historically-based German Marxist perspective on fairy tales? Not much. I agree
...more
Shari
May 31, 2015 Shari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Folk and fairy tales --we all grew up with them. We think we know something about them. We are reminded of them in subtle ways every day through the media; movies, TV, commercials, advertisements, and even in the way news is packaged and dealt out to us. The motifs of the folk and fairy tale are so well anchored in our brains that stories, news stories, word-of-mouth stories and even gossip makes use of them.

Zipes gives us the history of these stories which probably arose in the Ice Age, when m
...more
Amy Rae
Man, I am not on top of my review-writing this month. All right, let's get down to brass tacks.

Jack Zipes has written an important book on folk stories and fairy tales. For me personally, it was hard to read and gain much from; while it's important that he's covered the history of studies of folk and fairy tales in pretty clear detail, it doesn't exactly make for fascinating reading.

One of the hard things about this book--for me, at least--was the fact that so much of it relied on sources and ac
...more
E
Dec 26, 2009 E rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: theory-lovers and fairy tale enthusiasts
"Breaking the Magic Spell" is one of Jack Zipes' earliest books, and an important and useful text. I read a copy published in 1979, but I know there's an updated and annotated version that was released more recently. The book covers the history of German folk and fairy tales, especially the philosophical history (i.e. the historical role of the tales and their resultant ideologies), the history of the romantic fairy tale, the potential utopian function of the fairy tale in contemporary society, ...more
Ilana
Apr 10, 2015 Ilana rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I really enjoyed Jack Zipes' theories on fairy tales, and can't wait to read Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion. I am also really glad I read his chapter on Bruno Bettelheim before I starting reading The Uses of Enchantment. It gave me some idea of what to expect (i.e. condescending bullshit).
Maria
Nov 24, 2014 Maria rated it really liked it
Hmm... Actually, I hardly had any knowledge about the works that Zipes mentioned and talked about. Therefore his essays, although interesting, were quite dense to me and their points didn't actually stick with me. With the exception of the last essay, they pretty much went in and went straight out of my mind again.

The last essay, a response to Bettelheim's book "Uses of Enchantment", was so nice to read! First of all because he basically ridiculed Bettelheim's approach (which he called 'pathetic
...more
Katelyn Patterson
Mar 16, 2012 Katelyn Patterson rated it really liked it
This won't be a cover to cover read for me, for now at least. I am doing some research for my Storytelling class. We were pointed to Zipes essay on Bettelheim which is the last chapter of this book. I was so fascinated that I had to find out more. Folk tales were never really intended for a young audience. They were, in fact, kept from children to avoid giving them "crazy ideas" about rebelling against authoritarian or patriarchal rule. Zipes describes the sociopolitical transition from folk tal ...more
Laura Head
Jul 15, 2015 Laura Head rated it really liked it
An interesting read and extremely useful. This book actually allowed university reading to become exciting!
Jonathan
Mar 26, 2016 Jonathan rated it really liked it
A very helpful guide to understanding fairytales and folk tales, and that the two are different from each other. It also sets historical and social context for both tales along with criticism for both genres. It is also a study in utopia and how folk and fairytales are unfulfilled wishes that the storytellers seek to fulfill.
Tortla
I skipped over quite a bit (particularly in the essay about cinematic fairy tales, as I haven't seen Star Wars or any of the films he discussed, really), but what I read was quite good. He's insightful, and I tend to agree with him. To an extent. He's also very very Marxist/anti-capitalist, and I'm less emphatic in my pro-children's-literature and anti-Capitalist stances.
Rachel
Aug 09, 2011 Rachel rated it it was ok
If you love super dense, highly intellecutal books about the inner-workings and impact of fairy tales, then this book is for you!! Sadly, it was not for me...
Brigid Keely
Couldn't get into this. Have liked other work of his, don't know if this is unusually dry or I'm just not in the mood for it. Might try again later.
Lynette Twaddle
This is a fantastic book to read if you are interested in folk lore. I thoroughly recommend it.
Sara
Jul 12, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thesis-books
definitely going to come back to this and read it again. some chapters more than other!
Yalonda Neff
This is a great theoretical book for those who have an interest in fairy/folk tales.
Saroon
Nov 12, 2011 Saroon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thesis-books
definitely going to come back to this and read it again. some chapters more than other!
Willow
Jun 12, 2007 Willow rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: socialists and folklorists
Shelves: folklore, non-fiction
An interesting socialist perspective on the purpose of folk and fairy tales.
Catherine Woodman
Jul 29, 2011 Catherine Woodman rated it liked it
from one of the few people writing about theories of fairy tales
Veronica
Sep 26, 2007 Veronica rated it really liked it
Intriguing study of the socio-political context of global fairytales.
H. Anne Stoj
Dec 01, 2008 H. Anne Stoj is currently reading it
Shelves: folkloremyth
progressed to the plaid bag.
Jennifer
very Marxist
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Jul 12, 2016
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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
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“Over the last three centuries our historical reception of folk and fairy tales has been so negatively twisted by aesthetic norms, educational standards and market conditions that we can no longer distinguish folk tales from fairy tales nor recognize that the impact of these narratives stems from their imaginative grasp and symbolic depiction of social realities. Folk and fairy tales are generally confused with one another and taken as make-believe stories with no direct reference to a particular community or historical tradition. Their own specific ideology and aesthetics are rarely seen in the light of a diachronic historical development which has great bearing on our cultural self-understanding.” 0 likes
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