Author(s): Barbara Rieti
Author Barbara Rieti’s study began in 1983 when she met a young man who told her that he had been followed by the fairies. Subsequent research drew on the hundreds of accounts of fairies that are housed in the Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive, are on Dr. Rieti’s own fieldwork on the Avalon Peninsula.
Fairies might be good or bad, and encounters with them funny or fatal. They can take on the form of people or animals, or they may have no form at all, as when a person walking in the woods is "led astray" by some irresistible force. This variability is matched by the diversity of human attitudes. Out of this dynamic of form and belief are derived many uses for the fairies.
Dr. Rieti describes the specific contexts in which fairy experiences are recounted and the manner in which they are told, keeping the narrator at center stage. She also seeks the meaning in cultural themes such as the human relationship with nature, and relationships between people. Comparative material sets the subject in historical and international perspective and demonstrates the remarkable tenacity of these very old yet modern tales.
The fairies may be going, but they are not gone yet. The stories still to be heard offer a window on everyday folklife, as well as on an extraordinary world