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Breaking the Magic SpellBreaking the Magic Spell

Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales

Jack Zipes

Narrated by Stuart Appleton

Available from Audible

Book published by University Press of Kentucky

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 that often diminished the ideology of the original narrative. Zipes also looks at how folk tales influence our popular beliefs and the ways they have been exploited by a corporate media network intent on regulating the mystical elements of the stories. He examines a range of authors, including the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Ernst Bloch, Tolkien, Bettelheim, and J.K. Rowling to demonstrate the continuing symbiotic relationship between folklore and literature.


“A stimulating contribution to the critical literature of folk and fairy tales.”

Children’s Literature Association Quarterly

“All libraries should acquire this new edition of one of the most influential texts in the field.”


“Fairy Tales are a highly fashionable study today for literary scholars as well as folklorists, and another new book shows what a range of interest can be evoked by them. This time in Jack Zipes’ interesting and vigorous study.”


“Zipes reveals the extraordinary breadth of his acquaintance with both recent and classic literature in the field of folk and fairytale research.”


“Zipes manages the impressive trick of communicating both detail and overview without simplifying either... the serious folklorist should should defnitely have this on his bookshelf. ”

Fortean Times

“This provocative study will undoubtedly provide stimulating reading for many audiences. ”

Romantic Movement

“Zipes has written a stimulating and important contribution to the sociology of popular literature. ”

Sociological Review

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University Press Audiobooks