Folktales for Grown-ups

Over the millennia and around the world people have been telling variations of the same stories over and over. Some of the stories are tragic. Some are horrifying--and some are just silly. Some of the books on this list investigate what these stories mean to humankind. Some of these books are simply enjoyable retellings of old stories.

Earth Song, Sky Spirit: Short Stories of the Contemporary Native American Experience

By Clifford Trafzer, editor

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"A vibrant, vital anthology of stories that portray the lives of Native Americans today, featuring the work of N. Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko, and more than two dozen other gifted, authentic voices."
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Valley So Low: Southern Mountain Stories

By Manly Wade Wellman

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"This is a fine collection of Wellman's most recent Appalachian tales written in the 70's and 80's. Tales about Judge Pursuivant, John Thunstone, Silver John and others all make appearances."

Trill Coster’s Burden -- The Spring -- Owls Hoot in the Daytime -- Can These Bones Live? -- Nobody Ever Goes There -- Where Did She Wander? -- A Witch For All Seasons (originally by “Gans T Field”) -- The Beasts That Perish -- Willow He Walk -- Chastel -- Rouse Him Not -- Hundred Years Gone -- Keep Me Away -- Yare -- Chorazin -- The Petey Car -- Along About Sundown -- What of the Night -- Dead Man’s Chair (as “Rock Rock”) -- Lamia -- Caretaker -- The Ghastly Priest Doth Reign -- Goodman’s Place --

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The Uses of Enchantment: the Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales

By Bruno Bettelheim

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The well-known and controversial child psychologist gave readers a moving revelation of the enormous and irreplaceable value of fairy tales - how they educate, support and liberate the emotions of children.

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Wonder Tales

By Marina Warner

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Marina Warner introduces this collection of six seventeenth-century French fairy tales with an explanation of how the literary form was invented by French aristocrats during the reign of Louis XIV. Gilbert Adair, John Ashbery, Ranjit Bolt, A. S. Byatt and Terence Cave have written elegant transalations of “The White Cat”, “The Subtle Princess”, “Bearskin”, “The Counterfeit Marquis”, “Starlight” and “The Great Green Worm."
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The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings

By Jan Harold Brunvand

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Urban legends--we've all repeated them. The Internet is full of them. This is the book that made the general public aware of this form of folklore. The culmination of twenty years of collection and research The Vanishing Hitchhiker remains a classic. Other books of urban legends by the same author include Curses! Broiled Again! , Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid: The Book of Scary Urban Legends, and The Encyclopedia of Urban Legends.

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The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories

By Christopher Booker

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From The Epic of Gilgemesh to Jaws and Schindler's List, Christopher Booker examines in detail the stories that underlie literature and the plots that are basic to story telling through the ages. He examines the plots of films, opera libretti, folk tales, myths and the contemporary novel and short story. Underlying the stories he examines are Seven Basic Plots: rags to riches; the quest; voyage and return; the hero as monster; rebirth and so on. Booker shows that the images and stories serve a far deeper and more significant purpose in our lives than we have realised.
In the definition of these basic plots, Booker shows us we are entering a realm in which the recognition of the plots proves only to be the gateway. We are in fact uncovering a kind of hidden universal language: a nucleus of situations and figures which are the very stuff from which stories are made.

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The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice

By Carolyn McVickar Edwards

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The winter solstice, the day the "sun stands still," marks the longest night and the shortest day of the year (it occurs either on December 20 or 21). Celebrations honoring the winter solstice as a moment of transition and renewal date back thousands of years and occur among many peoples on every continent. The Return of the Light makes an ideal companion for everyone who carries on this tradition, no matter what their faith.

Storyteller Carolyn McVickar Edwards retells twelve traditional tales-from North America, China, Scandinavia, India, Africa, South America, Europe, and Polynesia-that honor this magical moment. These are stories that will renew our wonder of the miracle of rebirth and the power of transition from darkness into light.

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The Mythology of Horses: Horse Legend and Lore throughout the Ages

By Gerald and Loretta Hausman

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An extraordinary collection of myths and facts about horses, their honored place in human history, and the mystique that has surrounded them in cultures around the globe. Horses have always held a mystical sway over the human imagination; no other creature has inspired the same reverence or cross-cultural fascination. The Mythology of Horses offers a comprehensive look at horse breeds around the world, exploring their heritage, physical attributes, and place in human society, as well as the folklore, popular mythology, and true stories surrounding each breed.

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The Moon in the Well: Wisdom Tales to Transform Your Life, Family, and Community

By Erica Helm Meade

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This collection of 63 folktales from around the world is accompanied with suggestions on using the stories in counseling situations. The introduction includes information on the origins, importance, and "how-to's" of storytelling. The tales are short and easy to tell.

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The Hero with a Thousand Faces

By Joseph Campbell

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This influential study traces the story of the hero's journey and transformation through virtually all the mythologies of the world. Originally published in 1949, it has inspired generations of students and artists and sold nearly one million copies in various editions.

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