Sunday Inspiration: Books

Books are a uniquely portable magic.
— Stephen King

Advertisements

“This Isn’t Your Typical Fairy Tale”

Thanks to Janelle Fila for her five-star review of Children of Pride for Readers’ Favorite:

This isn’t a typical fairy tale story, but it isn’t unnecessarily scary or gory either. It is a nice blend of sweet and caring with dark and scary, but never crosses the line into nightmare scary. I loved the characters and the fact that they always tried to do what was right and honorable whenever they could. Great job!

But you don’t have to take her word for it. Read Children of Pride for yourself!

Some Fairy Tales May Be Older than They Look

CNN has the details:

Read “Jack and the Beanstalk” to your kids this evening, and you are probably putting them in touch with human sentiments that are thousands of years old.

Same goes if you read them “Beauty and the Beast,” or maybe “Rumpelstiltskin.”

A new study has found that classic fairy tales may be “much older than previously believed,” one of the authors, Jamshid Tehrani of the UK’s Durham University, said Wednesday. Tehrani wrote the study with Sara Graca da Silva of the New University of Lisbon, in Portugal.

And here’s the abstract for “Comparative Phylogenetic Analyses Uncover the Ancient Roots of Indo-European Folktales“:

Ancient population expansions and dispersals often leave enduring signatures in the cultural traditions of their descendants, as well as in their genes and languages. The international folktale record has long been regarded as a rich context in which to explore these legacies. To date, investigations in this area have been complicated by a lack of historical data and the impact of more recent waves of diffusion. In this study, we introduce new methods for tackling these problems by applying comparative phylogenetic methods and autologistic modelling to analyse the relationships between folktales, population histories and geographical distances in Indo-European-speaking societies. We find strong correlations between the distributions of a number of folktales and phylogenetic, but not spatial, associations among populations that are consistent with vertical processes of cultural inheritance. Moreover, we show that these oral traditions probably originated long before the emergence of the literary record, and find evidence that one tale (‘The Smith and the Devil’) can be traced back to the Bronze Age. On a broader level, the kinds of stories told in ancestral societies can provide important insights into their culture, furnishing new perspectives on linguistic, genetic and archaeological reconstructions of human prehistory.

Listen to Tolkien Read (Snippets of) LOTR

Via Anna Green at mental_floss:

The written works of J.R.R. Tolkien are full of songs and poems that help build the mythology of Middle Earth. But while Tolkien’s songs are full of vivid imagery and exciting storytelling, it’s near-impossible to figure out what they were actually supposed to sound like. Fortunately, Tolkien himself knew, and he even recorded a few of the songs and poems.

West African Monsters and Faeries

James Calbraith has started a new series on less-familiar (to North Americans) mythologies over at Fantasy Faction. Check out the first installment, which deals with a number of creatures from West Africa:

Elves, trolls, dwarves, goblins… There’s no denying that the Western fantasy is strongly entrenched in a Northern European mindscape: those ancient myths of the Celtic and Germanic people that inspired Tolkien and his epigones. Writing about elves and dwarves is always a safe bet; when an author wants to be original and adventurous, they might look into the myths of the Mediterranean: Greek, Roman, Egyptian. Sometimes we venture into the Far East, and populate our worlds with qilin and long dragons, or, even rarer, into India or Persia. This seems to be the farthest horizon of our inspiration. Beyond that is the weird territory, with creatures born out of the writer’s own half-deranged mind in an attempt at uniqueness – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But the world is vast and old, and every culture has its share of strange and fascinating; there is a vast stock of ideas out there that you can tap into before running out of inspiration. In this series I will attempt to present some of these myths and legends. In the first episode, I tackle the mythologies of Western and South-Western Africa, a region stretching from Sahara Desert to the jungles of Congo, populated by a complex mix of cultures, nations, tribes and peoples descended from ancient Empires.

If West African mythology is your thing, you might also enjoy some of my write-ups about West African faery folk: