January Reading Wrap-Up

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Given that I have a reading goal of 150 books this year, I think I’ve gotten off to a good start this January! I read 12 books, which is right on track according to Goodreads! For the books I’ve read but haven’t reviewed, the date on the graphic is for the month read. For the books I’m reviewing, the date is when you can plan to see the review. Don’t forget to check out advance reviews for these on my Patreon or hang out here in February to see the reviews on the blog!  

#1 – The Lion in Winter by James Goldman

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Date Started: January 1st, 2019

Date Finished: January 1st, 2019

Format: Print

Reason: Teaching in Spring 2019

Genre: Drama

#2 – American Panda by Gloria Chao

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Date Started: January 3rd, 2019

Date Finished: January 4th, 2019

Format: Audiobook

Reason: For Fun

Genre: YA Contemporary

Review: Available Now (Patrons) or 2/6 (Blog)

#3- The Tape-Recorded Interview: A Manual for Fieldworkers in Folklore and Oral History

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Date Started: January 14th, 2019

Date Finished: January 14th, 2019

Format: PDF

Reason: Read for Fieldwork in Folklore Seminar

Genre: Nonfiction

#4 – Boris Godunov and Other Dramatic Works by Alexander Pushkin

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Date Started: January 8th, 2019

Date Finished: January 17th, 2019

Format: Print

Reason: Teaching in Spring 2019

Genre: Drama

#5 – The Kreutzer Sonata and Other Short Stories by Leo Tolstoy

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Date Started: January 15th, 2019

Date Finished: January 17th, 2019

Format: EBook

Reason: Read for Pregnancy and Procreation in Russian Literature and Film Seminar

Genre: Short Story

#6 – Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

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Date Started: January 5th, 2019

Date Finished: January 21st, 2019

Format: Audiobook

Reason: For Fun

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Review: Available 2/3 (Patrons) or 2/10 (Blog)

#7 – Agostino by Alberto Moravia

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Date Started: January 1st, 2019

Date Finished: January 22nd, 2019

Format: Print

Reason: Teaching Spring 2019

Genre: Adult Contemporary

#8 – The Aran Islands by J.M. Synge

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Date Started: January 18th, 2019

Date Finished: January 23rd, 2019

Format: eBook

Reason: Read for Readings in Ethnography Seminar

Genre: Nonfiction

#9 – Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

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Date Started: January 21st, 2019

Date Finished: January 27th, 2019

Format: Audiobook

Reason: For Fun

Genre: YA Fantasy

Review: Available 2/13 (Patrons) or 2/20 (Blog)

#10 – East by Edith Pattou

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Date Started: January 5th, 2019

Date Finished: January 30th, 2019

Format: Print

Reason: For Qualifying Exams/For Fun/First Friday Fairy Tales

Genre: YA Fantasy

Review: Available 2/1

#11 – To Make Monsters Out of Girls by amanda lovelace

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Date Started: January 28th, 2019

Date Finished: January 28th, 2019

Format: eBook

Reason: For Fun

Genre: Poetry

#12 – In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

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Date Started: January 31st, 2019

Date Finished: January 31st, 2019

Format: Audiobook

Reason: For Fun

Genre: YA Fantasy

Review: Available 2/17 (Patrons) or 2/24 (Blog)


I’ve got a lot of great reads coming up next month, too, so stay tuned for my reading wrap-up at the end of February! 

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October Reading Wrap-Up

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#1 – The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World

Date Started: October 1st, 2018

Date Finished: October 5th, 2018

Reason: Read for my Contemporary Perspectives on Myth Class

Genre: Nonfiction

Rating: 4/5 Stars

#2 – The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

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Date Started: October 5th, 2018

Date Finished: October 6th, 2018

Reason: Diverse Reading Challenge

Genre: Nonfiction

Rating: 4/5 Stars

#3 – Antigone’s Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death by Judith Butler

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Date Started: October 9th, 2018

Date Finished: October 9th, 2018

Reason: Diverse Reading Challenge; Read for my Contemporary Perspectives on Myth Class

Genre: Nonfiction

Rating: 4/5 Stars

#4 – Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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Date Started: October 15th, 2018

Date Finished: October 17th, 2018

Reason: Winner of Recommendation Day!

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Review: Click Here

#5 – An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

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Date Started: October 20th, 2018

Date Finished: October 21st, 2018

Reason: Diverse Reading Challenge

Genre: Adult Fiction

Rating: 5/5 Stars

#6 – Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

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Date Started: October 15th, 2018

Date Finished: October 31st, 2018

Reason: I’ve been dying to read this for months! I also met Anna-Marie at Sirens this year.

Genre: YA Magical Realism

Rating: TBD

Review: Coming Soon

#7 – Putting Folklore to Use by Michael Owen Jones

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Date Started: October 8th, 2018

Date Finished: October 24th, 2018

Reason: Read for my Applied Folklore class

Genre: Nonfiction

Rating: 3/5

#8 – White as Snow by Tanith Lee

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Date Started: August 9th, 2018

Date Finished: October 24th, 2018

Reason: Teaching this Semester

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Rating: 5/5

#9 – The Ancient Mythology of Modern Science: A Mythologist Looks (Seriously) at Popular Science Writing by Gregory Schrempp

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Date Started: October 16th, 2018

Date Finished: October 30th, 2018

Reason: Read for my Contemporary Perspectives on Myth Class (it was written by my professor)

Genre: Nonfiction

Rating: 3/5

Hi, Sarah! I really love your posts about folklore and I was wondering if you’re going to talk about it in your videos. Anyway, I’m so excited to watch your videos! <3

Hello! I’m so happy to hear that. Yes, actually, I will be talking about folklore in my YouTube videos from time to time. In fact, the video that went up a few hours ago is actually about why I write fairy tale retellings, which includes a bit about my academics and some of the qualities about fairy tales that I love. You can check it out here!

Cool to choose a less known tale this month, I liked to learn about this. I loved horses as a child and I’m still fond of The Goose Girl, featuring the speaking horse Falada. Many lines are iconic in my head, and the triangle of the queen, princess and servant is interesting – nowadays you’d try to understand the servant with a little more compassion, of course. There’s a Russian fairy tale about a magical horse that falls under the same category as Dapplegrim with a cute animated movie, too.

Thank you so much for the message! I’m glad you enjoyed today’s tale. I’ll admit that I was hesitant to do it because I was afraid there wasn’t enough material to bother, but I’m glad I did! 

I completely agree that Falada the horse from “The Goose Girl” is super interesting. He seems to be the teller of truth, which is very opposite from a trickster figure. I don’t know enough about horse folklore to be sure, but I imagine this might be a reason why the horse is contrasted with the traditional fox trickster in some of the fables mentioned. 

As a folklorist I’m saddened by the way you deliberately misrepresented the work of Campbell and the field of folkloristics in the recent answers you gave on this blog. The most hurtful part of your answer, however, was the notion that people who study patterns in storytelling are “throwing away” stories that don’t fit the pattern, and that they are not scientists in your view. I found this surprising and, frankly, quite insulting. Could you expound on your views on the subject a bit more?

neil-gaiman:

I’m puzzled by your question, because I’ve never met a folklorist who was even polite about Joseph Campbell. Authors tend to be quite fond of him, and I’ve known branches of academia who seemed to respect him. But folklorists do not hold back. I’ve never known a folklorist who regarded what Campbell did as being any real part of the field of folklore. In his defence, Campbell never claimed to be a folklorist – he was literature prof who wrote about comparative mythology and religion.

This link may help on what many of the other folklorists think, and clarify more besides, although given how saddened and hurt you were by my rather gentle pointing out of Campbell’s weaknesses, you may have to brace yourself on this one. Although as a folklorist, you will have to find this all out eventually, probably the first time you mention Campbell to your fellow folklorists. So here you go:

 http://www.patheos.com/blogs/foxyfolklorist/why-folklorists-hate-joseph-campbells-work/

First Friday Fairy Tales: July ‘18 Edition (History)

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History of “The Elves and the Shoemaker” by Sarah Viehmann

This tale might seem like an odd selection for today. “Christmas in July” is an excuse I could make, perhaps, but truthfully, this tale isn’t actually a Christmas story, despite the association many might make with Santa Claus’s workshop and his helpful elves. I chose this story for its simplicity after several months of more in-depth editions of First Friday Fairy Tales, but just because it is a simpler tale doesn’t mean there isn’t much to dig into! As a folklorist, I know that even the simplest traditions, tales, and habits often have fascinating and complex meanings. Click ‘Read More’ to learn some more detail about this seemingly simple story!

We’ll start with the basics: “The Elves and the Shoemaker” is a tale from the Grimms’ collection, Die Kinder- und Hausmärchen. More specifically, it is one of three stories united under a single number in the collection, titled Die Wichtelmänner, which directly translates to “The Elves.” The other two companion stories also feature elves, but this one about the shoemaker and his wife tends to be the most retold and remembered. 

If you’ve tuned in to “First Friday Fairy Tales” before, you might know that the Grimms published seven editions of their collection before the “final” version in 1845. “The Elves and the Shoemaker” is one of the stories that is included in the first 1812 edition as well as the final edition. In the 1812 edition, it was titled “Die Wichtelmänner:  Von dem Schuster, dem sie die Arbeit gemacht” or “The Elves: About the Shoemaker for Whom They Did the Work.” The title as we now know it is a lot shorter, but that seems to make sense. It’s easier to remember that way! The Grimms collected this story from the region of Hesse, and in their notes to the story, they relate how it is similar to tales from their earlier Deutsche Sagen as well as other tales of fair folk from across Europe:

To this place also belongs No. 6 in the Irische Elfenmärchen. Compare the stories of the quiet folk, the benevolent dwarfs, and well-disposed kobolds in the first vol. of our Deutsche Sagen. It is a peculiar feature that these little spirits disappear if clothes are given to them. A little sea-dwarf will have none, and vanishes when he receives them. See Mone’s Anzeiger 1837, p. 175. A fairy man receives a little red coat, is delighted with it, and disappears, see Vonbun, pp. 3, 4.

Folktales about elves and similar creatures are abundant in Germanic narratives, but given the spread of culture and language across Europe, there are variants of these creatures in other countries. In the British Isles, they are referred to as “The Fair Folk.” After the medieval period, the idea of what an “elf” was and what a “fairy” was (the latter being borrowed from French) began to merge, so nowadays you will often hear “elf” used to refer to other supernatural, humanesque figures such as hobs, fairies, pixies, brownies, and pucks. 

During the Elizabethan period, elves began to evolve into something that resonated more with the elites of society than it previously had. Perhaps the concept of ‘elf’ merged with the Old Irish divine figures, the Tuatha Dé

Danann;  regardless of exactly how this new notion formed, the new version of elvenkind can be seen in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, the longest poem in the English language. This idealization of elves and faeries continued into the Romantic period. While the Grimms sought out and collected stories that reflected the older conception of Germanic elves, the more sophisticated elf continued to be popular throughout Europe into the 19th century. 

When most think of elves today, they are likely to imagine Legolas, Arwen, and Thranduil from J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings series. Tolkein famously drew on old Germanic folklore for Middle Earth inspiration, though his elves resemble the above-mentioned Celtic Fair Folk more than Germanic elves such as the ones in this Grimm story. In his book On Fairy Stories, Tolkein wrote:

English words such as elf have long been influenced by French (from which fay and faërie, fairy are derived); but in later times, through their use in translation, fairy and elf have acquired much of the atmosphere of German, Scandinavian, and Celtic tales, and many characteristics of the huldu-fólk, the daoine-sithe, and the tylwyth-teg.

Tolkein was very aware of the history of fae- and elf-like creatures throughout European folklore, but many remain uninformed of the complex history and differing categorizations for the Fair Folk, the Little People, elves, dwarves, or however you choose to call them. The Grimms’ elves represent a traditional Germanic version of the creatures, who can be helpful or harmful, but who can be motivated to depart by being given clothes (you might recognize this element from the Harry Potter series; J.K. Rowling is another fantasy writer who knows her folklore well). 

So, while the story of “The Elves and the Shoemaker” may seem short and sweet, it is part of a much longer tradition of stories about supernatural creatures who interact with humans in folktales and fairy tales!

(Header Art by Charles Folkard)

Re: Crescent City – Do you have any idea what Sidhe is?

propshophannah:

So this is a question for @sarahviehmann! Tagging her to see if she’ll kindly shed some light on this for us. All I know about this creature is that I BELIEVE it’s from Irish mythology(???) and similar to faeries but not a faerie. 😂 I think there is a different name too maybe(???). Like the Gaelic version of the name—BUT I COULD BE WAY WRONG. I’ve only come across this word in passing. I’ve never studied it or seen it in texts I’ve studied. I also think I came across it in a manga I read once or something like that.

Yep, the Aes Sídhe

(ace sheathe) is the supernatural/fairy race in Irish and Scottish folklore, and the sídhe are also what they call the mounds and fairy hills which are the entrances to their world. They’re also known as the aos sí. They include leprechauns, merrows, selkies, banshees, and other similar creatures.

March Reading Wrap-Up

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#1 – Andromède by Pierre Corneille

Date Started: March 1st, 2018

Date Finished: March 1st, 2018

Reason: Read for School (17th Century Baroque French Drama)

Genre: Drama

Rating: 3/5 Stars

#2 – Anglo-American Folksong Style by Roger D. Abrahams

Date Started: February 26th, 2018

Date Finished: March 7th, 2018

Reason: Read for School (Folklore Genres)

Genre: Nonfiction

Rating: 3/5 Stars

#3 – Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

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Date Started: March 12th, 2018

Date Finished: March 19th, 2018

Reason: Read for Fun; Diverse Reading Challenge (Women’s History Month)

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Blog Review: Click Here

Extended Review: Click Here

#4 – Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Date Started: March 19th, 2018

Date Finished: March 24th, 2018

Reason: Read for Fun; Diverse Reading Challenge (Women’s History Month); Winner of Recommendation Day!

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Blog Review: Click Here

Extended Review: Click Here

#5 – Mithridate by Jean Racine

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Date Started: March 28th, 2018

Date Finished: March 29th, 2018

Reason: Read for School (17th-Century Baroque French Drama)

Genre: Drama

Rating: 4/5 Stars

#6 – Equus by Peter Shaffer

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Date Started: March 24th, 2018

Date Finished: March 29th, 2018

Reason: Teaching this Semester (Writing the World)

Genre: Drama

Rating: 5/5 Stars


I didn’t read nearly as much this month as last month, and definitely far less than I expected to! I thought I’d have more time, but the first week of March was crazy busy with grad school and while I was on spring break with @susannadlpena I mostly had adventures and was chilling out giving my brain a break. I still hit my priority reads, though, so I’m still calling it a win! What did you read this month? 

Hi Sarah! Do you have a tag where you only talk about Russian Lit? Even so, could you help suggesting where one could start reading more into the Russian folklore and etc? I Google some authors and put their works on my TBR, hopefully I’ll find something interesting! Hope you’re well <3

I don’t have one specifically about literature, I don’t think, though I do have a ‘russian’ tag with language stuff and maybe some literature posts. I’m still breaking into reading about Russian folklore myself, but I would look at the work of Alexander Afanas’ev and Vladimir Propp as a place to start! Also, the novel Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente is a great retelling of Russian folklore. Same with Hunted by Meagan Spooner. Hope that help!