Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore

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9780752300122: Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore
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Identifies themes, figures of popular tradition, tales, modern myths, folk arts, superstitions, and characters featured in the world's folk heritage

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As the author points out in her introduction, folklore is dynamic and protean. The stories are constantly changing through retelling and yet the core of each tale remains constant. The scholarship in the field overlaps many academic disciplines. As a result, it is difficult to cover the field in a one-volume dictionary. However, Jones, a freelance writer with a degree in English literature from Edinburgh University, has done a credible job.

The first sentence of each bolfaced entry clearly and succinctly defines the term and places it in the sphere of folklore. The rest of the entry expands upon the definition, sometimes tracing it through historical or literary changes and often providing cross-references to other entries. Each entry is generally 1^-3 paragraphs in length, although some are as long as nine paragraphs. The readable text is accompanied by more than 200 black-and-white line drawings. Although these illustrations are charming and well executed, they add little to the text since they are generally illustrations for well-known characters such as vampires or gremlins. However, they do serve to break up the text and add some visual interest.

A useful unannotated bibliography of books for "Further Reading" on specific types of folklore or folklore from specific cultures generally lists the classics in the field. This could be used as a selection tool for smaller libraries. Jones has included a separate "Biographical Note Section" on prominent folklorists but gives no criteria for inclusion. James Frazer, Andrew Lang, and Nicholas Culpeper are included, but Stith Thompson, Katharine Briggs, and Joseph Campbell are not. Each of these entries contains birth and death dates, when known; major published works; and a very limited biography. Other appendixes include a partial list of ethnological and folklore museums throughout the world, arranged by country, and a calendar of festivals and folklore events throughout the world.

Although it does not replace more extensive and specialized works on the subject, small public and school libraries will want to purchase a copy of the Larousse Dictionary for their reference collections. It is easy to use and provides accessible information on a topic of interest to many users at an excellent price.

Review:

College-level libraries and collections specializing in folklore history will want to consider this an essential reference: it gathers together all the central themes and figures of folklore from around the world and uses a dictionary format to provide instant access to definitions and descriptions. >From Roman guardian spirits to nursery tale origins, this packs in detail. -- Midwest Book Review

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780752300436: Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore

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ISBN 10:  0752300431 ISBN 13:  9780752300436
Publisher: Larousse, 1996
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