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Field Guide to the Little People: An Interesting Survey of European Fairy Lore

Updated on June 18, 2013

So I spotted this book in a New Age store and was intrigued enough to nab it from the library. It's a guide to the various elves, fairies, and the like who populate European lore, compiled by Nancy Arrowsmith, an American living in Germany, back in 1977, trying to compile and describe their traits, behaviors, and the like. Despite the fact that Arrowsmith may or may not actually believe fairies and the like actually exist, in general I found it to be a great collection of European fairy lore, and very good if you interested in that sort of thing.

The book is divided up into "Light Elves," "Dark Elves," and "Dusky Elves," by far the largest section, While there are some differences between the three, Arrowsmith doesn't really explain how she determined which kinds of elves go where, and since the Dusky Elves take up a good 3/4 of the book, it seems like a rather silly dividing tactic. From there, it's all alphabetical, with each entry receiving a description of the elf in question, their habits, what they look like, and where they're found, as well as a picture (some of whom match the entity previously described better than others). Most get a few excerpts or abbreviations of folk tales involving the fairy in question, which gives a certain richness to the previous, slightly more scientific description and classification.

If you're interested in mythology and fairy folklore, this book is great. I loved the diversity of entities Arrowsmith catalogs, including English, Irish, Scandinavian, French, Spanish, Italian, Czech, Russian, German, and Swiss fairies. Because she wrote this in Germany, there is a certain emphasis towards German/Austrian/Swiss/Tyrolean elves, but those are sorts that are often under-emphasized in the US, where there's more of an emphasis on Irish/Scottish/English fairies.

All in all, if you're interested in Fairy folklore, this is a great book to read. Definitely check it out if that;s true of you and you come upon it.


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    • nuffsaidstan profile image


      5 years ago

      I love anything paranormal so i will have to check out this book, good write up.


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