Buried Treasures: The Power of Political Fairy Tales

Fascinating profiles of modern writers and artists who tapped the political potential of fairy tales


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Apr 4, 2023
13 b/w illus.
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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