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Reviews of Explore Folklore

'A howling success, which plugs a big and obvious gap'
Professor Ronald Hutton


... a most valuable modern folklore primer. [...] this book fills a long-overdue need in British folklore.
John Billingsley in Northern Earth No.92 (December 2002)


Bob Trubshaw has done us all a service with this book. Explore Folklore is a lively, lucid and entertaining overview of a highly visible yet curiously elusive subject that ranges from song and dance, festival, tradition and custom to jokes, superstitions, proverbs, contemporary legend and 'friend of a friend' stories. Some of it is highly visible and obvious, but the bulk of the folklore iceberg is made up of things we engage in every day without thinking about it. The range and complexity of folklore is compounded by the theories folklorists have developed to explain it. And the theories are changing all the time, just like the subject matter.
 
Explore Folklore takes us on a journey from the beginnings of folklore studies, when the enlightened gentry thought it amusing to study the quaint ways of the peasantry, t the present day understanding that none of us are safe from folklore and everyone is fair game for study. Whether they be yobs or nobs, everyone does folklore.
 
The author outlines the history of folklore studies, and discusses the ideas of the main academic folklorists and other theoretical frameworks that have over time proven useful to the study of folklore, as well as notions tat have taken root in the popular consciousness and which are themselves essentially folklore. The remainder of the book is devoted to looking at individual aspects of folklore, the materials with which folklorists work. Along the way, Trubshaw takes in Dr Who, Terry Pratchett, the Sex Pistols, bhangra and UFOs, which sit as comfortably in this context as the likes of Charles Perrault, Cecil Sharp, maypoles and morris dancing.
 
Bob Trubshaw has a gift for presenting complex ideas clearly and simply. In this respect, Explore Folklore is essential for those of us who have struggled to keep abreast of ideas and struggled even harder to understand them when they finally reach us. Folklore has long cried out for an introductory text such as this – one that not only introduces the material but also suggests ways of looking at it and gives the background to those insights and ideas, while explaining why other theories are found wanting. This book does exactly what it sets out to do and does it excellently.
 
Everything you wanted to know about folklore but were afraid to ask!

Alby Stone in 3rd Stone No.45 (January 2003)


All right then, if we must, let's explore folklore. As it turns out, this isn't actually a book stuffed with twee wizards and elves. An early chapter on folklore 'theory' sees Trubshaw doing a good job of explaining how and why 'folklore studies' came about, and giving a capsule account of Vladimir Propp's seminal taxonomy. There are interesting discussions on assumptions in the field, such as that British folklore customs must inevitably have evolved from pagan rites. Morris dancing, it turns out, was only invented in the mid-15th century, when it 'became a fashionable craze in the courts of western Europe', but most people now assume it derives from some ancient fertility rite. Odd how once-faddish inventions attain an aura of historical and cultural authority.
Steven Poole in The Guardian 14th September 2002


This book is a first-rate introduction to the murky subject of folklore. Bob Trubshaw succinctly runs though the common misconceptions that abound in popular understandings of folklore and why they have arisen. He then gives an overview of the various aspects of culture that have come to be thought of as folklore and takes us through the main academic theories that have been developed in the last 20 odd years regarding them. The issues and definitions contained within are specifically to do with British folklore. However, the underlying problems and attitudes that the examination reveals, are more general and could apply to many disciplines. This book is highly recommended for folklorists, antiquarians, historians, pagans and anyone interested in cultural studies or the development of ideas in popular culture.
Liminal Space No.13


I just wanted to let you know that Explore Folklore is brilliant. It is excellent to have a proper theoretical exploration of folklore. It is also very readable (even unputdownable!) and deserves to be the standard work in the field. Congratulations on producing something so brilliant and well-researched.
Yvonne Allburrow (by email)


Richard Alexander's extended review of Explore Folklore


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