Pratchett, Terry & Jacqueline Simpson. The Folklore of Discworld.

NY: Random House, 2008.

There’s a whole aftermarket of sort-of nonfictional works orbiting around Sir Terry’s bestselling Discworld books which use his invented universe as a means to explain the Roundworld we actually live on. The subtitle of this one is “Legends, Myths, and Customs from the Discworld with helpful Hints from Planet Earth”

and it’s hard to tell where Pratchett leaves off and Simpson, a noted English folklorist, takes up, but it’s an interesting and informative read. Pratchett, of course, takes delight in spinning off his own weird take on ideas from our world, and that includes a great many parallels in religion, myth, and worldview — not all of them tongue-in-cheek. The chapters here are topical: Gods, dwarfs, trolls, the Nac Mac Feegle, “beasties,” the differences between the witches of Lancre and those of the Chalk, heroes, military customs, and (of course) Death. Throughout the slightly serious discursions on social history (presumably Simpson’s contribution) are threaded the equally serious comments by Pratchett on what it all means in understanding human life. (If you think he just makes it all up out of his head, you don’t understand how much research he actually puts into his writing.)

Anyone who has worked their way through all the thirty-odd Discworld novels, and has paid attention to what they’ve read, should find a good deal in this volume to think further about.

Published in: on 10 January 2015 at 2:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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