marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

The Fairies in English Tradition and Literature

The Fairies in English Tradition and Literature by Katharine Mary Briggs

An overview.  Assumes your basic knowledge of the facts, like the fluttery flower fairies are not the original conception.  Indeed, she is careful to point out that the tiny fairies are indeed part of the tradition, as one of the oldest recorded accounts, of beings called Portunes, make them an inch high.  Not that that size was commonplace.

Covers all sorts of topics.  Like fairies attached to familes, apparent nature spirits like the Blue Hag that fights with Spring every year and when she loses, throws her staff under a tree so that nothing grows there.  The fairy-ghost connection -- in Cornwall, all fairies are thought to be ghosts.  The nasty and vicious ones.  The giants, usually stupid, occasionally amiable.  The wyrms, which, unlike continental ones, seldom hoard.  Human fairy interactions, hit upon their need for humans, the time factor,l changelings, midwives, and lovers.

Then into the literary versions.  Starting with the 18th century, hit the foreign invasions with Perrault and Grimm, and concluding with The Lord of the Rings, which was indeed the last word in literary elves at the time this was written.
Tags: lit crit, non-fiction: folklore

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