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Celtic Fairy Tales: Being The Two Collections '...

Illustrated by Victor Ambrus, large octavo, pp (2), 330, very clean internally, green cloth, a very slight tear to the spine head otherwise a good sound copy without dustwrapper. [This is a complete edition of the 46 stories in Jabob's two Celtic collections together with both his prefaces and all his notes and references. It has been newly illustrated Victor Ambrus with an attractive headpiece for each story. This is a beautiful anthology which highlights Celtic children's literature. "Celtic Fairy Tales" includes popular stories such as "Conall Yellowclaw," "The Sea-Maiden," and "The Battle of the Birds," all of which were gathered straight from oral tradition by Jacobs to be preserved forever in text. Like the famous German fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm, not every story in "Celtic Fairy Tales" ends happily for all the characters. For example, in "Fair, Brown, and Trembling," the oldest sister tried to kill the youngest, so she was banished to the ocean in a barrel with only a small amount of provisions for food. Modern readers will also recognize parallels between well-known fairy tales and the stories in Jacobs' anthology. "Jack and his Comrades" is similar to "Town Musicians of Bremen," a story about a group of farm animals who fight four robbers away from their home. "Celtic Fairy Tales" is not only a solid collection of stories for young children, but adults will understand the significance of Joseph Jacob's work to preserve the legacy of Celtic folklore forever.]

Celtic fairy tales: being the two collections '...

Joseph Jacobs was a prolific author and collector of fairy tales, and completed two books of Celtic tales: Celtic Fairy Tales and a follow-up volume, More Celtic Fairy Tales. He was inspired to collect these tales after completing his book English Fairy Tales, and realized that the literary world lacked a true collection of tales of the Celts. His aim was to attract English children to enjoy the tales, as he noted in an essay in the first volume, and also to help preserve them.

A lesser known fact about Irish tales is that they provide excellent evidence of diffusion. In 1892, Joseph Jacobs, an Australian folklorist, published his first of two collections of Celtic Fairy tales. He highlighted stories such as the tale where Conall Yellowclaw blinded a one eyed giant. The hero stealthily sneaks past the giant, clothed in a buckskin. This echoes the story of Polyphemus from the Odyssey[10]. Another hallmark of Irish fairy tales is they contain a mix of both pagan and Christian elements[11]. This shows the extent folk tales were built into the zeitgeist. Instead of these stories being obliterated by Christian stories or discarded, it made more sense to the Irish sensibility to meld them together.

As a point of start, Schacker follows the evaluation of one"of the earliest systematic observer's of folktale publication inEngland" (8), Charlotte Yonge (see also 44-45, 47), who in her 1869essay on "Children's Literature of the Last Century" evaluatedthree publications of the early nineteenth century as "real good fairybooks': Edgar Taylor's translation of the brothers Grimm'sKinder- und Hausmarchen, published under the title of German Popular Stories(1823), Thomas Crofton Croker's Fairy Legends and Traditions of theSouth of Ireland (1825), and George Webbe Dasent's Popular Tales fromthe Norse (1859), from whose introduction Schacker takes her title (see 134).To this trinity, Schacker has added another highly influential publication ofthe time, Edward William Lane's translation of the Arabian Nights(1838-40), the first ever English-language translation rendering a more orless complete text as prepared directly from the Arabic. Besides beingwelcomed by the public as popular reading matter, these four collectionsshare another criterion, easily recognizable from their respective titles:all of them present popular tales from regions other than England--Germany,Ireland, Norway, and the Arab world. In the light of present dayconsiderations about the marketing of specific products and the ways to meetthe expectations of readers, Schacker's study promises fascinatingreading, and indeed it is.

Schacker's writing is dense and convincing, and theimpressive multitude of her detailed arguments is difficult to summarize.Besides numerous other important problems touched upon more or less casually,she focuses on three main points: first, the reasons for the previouslyprevailing unavailability of local fairy tales in England and the problemscaused by the genre's renewed popularity; second, the differentstrategies employed by the translators in the presentation of the foreigncollections to the English public, the "remaking of fairy tales"(keywords are: familiarizing, foreignizing, and domesticating); and, third,the resulting products as compared to the original publications. While eachof the works under consideration holds specific characteristics, the commondenominator of their English-language presentation turns out to be "theaccurate representation of cultural difference" (91). None of thetranslated collections is seriously concerned with whatever "true"or "authentic" image of the respective original national traditions(and at times the translations superbly disregard both original wording andoriginal context), instead employing them as a means to portray Otherness inan adapted shape. This shape is characterized by the biased reduction of theoriginal as well as by the transformation and remolding of the remainingtexts. As a result of this process, contemporary readers were presented withtales that successfully met their expectations while purporting to befaithful to their respective originals. Were it not for the fact that thelike attitudes are only too well known from other regions and periods, onewould feel tempted to link them to Britain's world rule and theintellectual appropriation of objects that were otherwise unavailable to herhegemonic supremacy. 041b061a72


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