Jack in Two Worlds: Contemporary North American Tales and Their Tellers

William B. McCarthy, Cheryl Oxford, Daniel Joseph Sobol (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


The "Jack" known to all of us from "Jack and the Beanstalk" is the hero of a cycle of tales brought to this country from the British Isles. Jack in Two Worlds is a unique collection that brings together eight of these stories as transcribed from actual performances by tellers and eight interpretive essays by leading folktale scholars.

The "two worlds" in the book's title refer to the Jack tales' popularity first among traditional Appalachian taletellers and now among storytelling revivalists. The tellers included in this volume represent both worlds. Unlike previous collections of Jack tales, in which the stories were heavily revised and rewritten, the tales in this volume have been transcribed verbatim and are presented in a format that preserves much of the oral quality of the taletellers' craft. The result is a body of richly nuanced tales that can be read with pleasure both by scholars who are studying the Jack tale tradition and by general readers who love a good story.

The taletellers are Stewart Cameron, Donald Davis, Ray Hicks, Bonelyn Lugg Kyofski, Maud Long, Frank Proffitt, Jr., Leonard Roberts, and Marshall Ward.

The essayists are Bill Ellis, Carl Lindahl, William Bernard McCarthy, W. F. H. Nicolaisen, Cheryl Oxford, Joseph Daniel Sobol, Kay Stone, Ruth Stotter, and Kenneth A. Thigpen.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationChapel Hill, NC
PublisherThe University of North Carolina Press
Number of pages336
ISBN (Print)978-0-8078-4443-4
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • storytelling
  • American myths
  • storyteller
  • culture
  • folklore
  • mythology
  • Appalachian taletellers
  • 'jack tales'


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