Jack Zipes has spent decades as a “scholarly scavenger,” discovering forgotten fairy tales in libraries, flea markets, used bookstores, and internet searches, and he has introduced countless readers to these remarkable works and their authors. In Buried Treasures, Zipes describes his special passion for uncovering political fairy tales of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, offers fascinating profiles of more than a dozen of their writers and illustrators, and shows why they deserve greater attention and appreciation.
These writers and artists used their remarkable talents to confront political oppression and economic exploitation by creating alternative, imaginative worlds that test the ethics and morals of the real world and expose hidden truths. Among the figures we meet here are Édouard Laboulaye, a jurist who wrote acute fairy tales about justice; Charles Godfrey Leland, a folklorist who found other worlds in tales of Native Americans, witches, and Roma; Kurt Schwitters, an artist who wrote satirical, antiauthoritarian stories; Mariette Lydis, a painter who depicted lost-and-found souls; Lisa Tetzner, who dramatized exploitation by elites; Felix Salten, who unveiled the real meaning of Bambi’s dangerous life in the forest; and Gianni Rodari, whose work showed just how political and insightful fantasy stories can be.
Demonstrating the uncanny power of political fairy tales, Buried Treasures also shows how their fictional realities not only enrich our understanding of the world but even give us tools to help us survive.
Awards and Recognition
- A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of the Year
Jack Zipes is the author of The Irresistible Fairy Tale, translator of The Original Bambi and The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, and editor of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (all Princeton). He is professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota.
"A potent testament to the power of stories."—Publishers Weekly
"Jack Zipes is a rare and precious commodity: an academic who is readable and accessible."—Terry Potter, The Letterpress Project
“Anything Jack Zipes has to say about fairy tales instantly hits my MUST READ list. And in a world which is driven now more than ever by fantasy, fairy tales, and made-up realities, it is fascinating to realize that Once Upon a Time is really Once Upon All Times. This is a book whose time has really come.”—Jane Yolen, award-winning author of more than 400 books for children and adults, including The Devil’s Arithmetic
“Jack Zipes, the most zestful, committed, and engaging advocate of fairy tales writing today, has been hunting high and low, from the British Library to junk shops, to draw from the shadows forgotten, censored, lost stories that serve the genre’s intrinsic emancipatory and critical impulse. This lifelong quest to forge a new fairy tale corpus has come to fruition with Buried Treasures; it offers a startling, alternative history of fairy tales, in which writers and artists explore the form with wit and insider knowledge to expose wrongs and make fresh hope possible. In times like these, their voices are much needed.”—Marina Warner, author of Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale
“Fairy tales political? You bet. Jack Zipes prowls through works of authors in fascist Europe and beyond. His biographies help us to understand tales and poems that attest to the possibilities of a humane world if characters dare to stand by what they know to be true and right. Compassion, illumination, hope are tools in the struggle; a stance germane today. What a treasure!”—Donna Jo Napoli, author of In a Flash
“Jack Zipes has worked tirelessly to discover and bring to our notice long-lost fairy tales written by people committed to justice, equality, and freedom. Here he shows why the fairy tale is such a great form for expressing these ideas in accessible and sympathetic ways. Large swathes of these traditions would be lost if it wasn’t for Zipes’s scholarship and persistence.”—Michael Rosen, editor of Workers’ Tales: Socialist Fairy Tales, Fables, and Allegories from Great Britain