Book Notice: The Folklore of Discworld
Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson are joint authors of The Folklore of Discworld, which was published by Doubleday in September 2008 (ISBN 978-0-385-61100-8).
Pratchett has had a lifelong interest in folklore and myth, and has often drawn on this in his fantasy novels about the Discworld, sometimes for major plot motifs, sometimes for passing allusions. He used to assume that these would be familiar to most readers, but soon learned that ‘not many people know the things that everyone knows’. People would ask why he called three witches ‘wyrd sisters’, or congratulate him on inventing the idea of a treacle mine. Having met Jacqueline Simpson at a book signing in 1997 and kept occasionally in touch since then, he invited her to collaborate in explaining the folkloric background to his work.
The Folklore of Discworld touches on a wide range of topics – not merely the supernatural and marvelous (gods and demons, vampires, dragons, elves, trolls, dwarfs, witchcraft and magic), but also such things as landscape lore, seasonal customs, urban folklore, funerary rites, the image of the Hero, the attributes of personified Death. Hopefully, the book will not only increase readers’ appreciation of Pratchett’s art but will spread knowledge of folklore itself (especially British lore) to those who have forgotten, or never known, its traditions.