Fairy Tales: A New History

Fairy Tales: A New History

Ruth B. Bottigheimer

Language: English

Pages: 162

ISBN: 1438425244

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Overturns traditional views of the origins of fairy tales and documents their actual origins and transmission.

Where did Cinderella come from? Puss in Boots? Rapunzel? The origins of fairy tales are looked at in a new way in these highly engaging pages. Conventional wisdom holds that fairy tales originated in the oral traditions of peasants and were recorded for posterity by the Brothers Grimm during the nineteenth century. Ruth B. Bottigheimer overturns this view in a lively account of the origins of these well-loved stories. Charles Perrault created Cinderella and her fairy godmother, but no countrywoman whispered this tale into Perrault’s ear. Instead, his Cinderella appeared only after he had edited it from the book of often amoral tales published by Giambattista Basile in Naples. Distinguishing fairy tales from folktales and showing the influence of the medieval romance on them, Bottigheimer documents how fairy tales originated as urban writing for urban readers and listeners. Working backward from the Grimms to the earliest known sixteenth-century fairy tales of the Italian Renaissance, Bottigheimer argues for a book-based history of fairy tales. The first new approach to fairy tale history in decades, this book answers questions about where fairy tales came from and how they spread, illuminating a narrative process long veiled by surmise and assumption.

“Bottingheimer’s work is as always provocative and interesting.” — Journal of American Folklore

“The genius of this slender volume is not so much that it provides a totally ‘new history,’ but rather that it presents not only Bottigheimer’s research but also that of John Ellis, Heinz Rölleke, Nancy Canepa, and many others in cogent, persuasive, eminently readable prose … A fascinating study in intertextuality, this book includes a helpful list of the 77 tales discussed, categorized by the author.” — CHOICE

“Some scholars say that, whether or not one agrees with all of Bottigheimer’s conclusions, her work is a useful questioning of popularly held beliefs.” — Chronicle Review

“This book will forever change the way that scholars and readers view a genre—the literary fairy tale—that remains vital today.” — Suzanne Magnanini, author of Fairy-Tale Science: Monstrous Generation in the Tales of Straparola and Basile















the concepts he had finalized in the 1819 preface to the Second Edition. The Preface to the Sixth Large Edition incorporated an expanded bibliography of book sources for Märchen from dozens of foreign and exotic lands, musings on changes in the public’s response to their collection, large numbers of tale summaries, and thoughts on the relationship between German and Indogermanic tales, nearly all of which became part of the scholarly apparatus in volume 3 (1856) of the Final Large Edition, whose

telling fairy tales before the nineteenth century, but the imputed and assumed orality of the storytelling process made documentation an irrelevance. What was obviously and documentably true for folk tales was assumed to be true for fairy tales as well. As a consequence, literary fairy tales came to be seen as contaminations of what was considered to have been a pure oral tradition. Over time, folk narrative theory not only accepted an absence of evidence for their theories as far as fairy tales

to library shelves? 4. Or was it the Catholic Index of forbidden books that led to the Pentamerone’s absence from French library holdings? If that is the case, it should be archivally verifiable. Whatever the reason for the absence of seventeenth-century copies of Basile’s Pentamerone from French libraries, the fact that the emergence of story content from Basile’s collection clusters around a small group of later seventeenth-century French authors, and the fact that it appears within a very few

world, including an (inappropriate) application to fairy tales. 12. Schenda, “Semi-Literate and Semi-Oral Processes” (2007) 127–140. 13. Cited in Harries, Twice Upon a Time (2001) 4. 14. Dugaw, “Chapbook Publishing and the ‘Lore’ of ‘the Folks’” (1995) 3. This page intentionally left blank. WORKS CITED Aarne, Antti, Stith Thompson, and Hans-Jörg Uther. 2004. The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography. Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica. (=Folklore Fellows

went roughly this way: A human hero joined his beloved, a fairy queen, in fairyland. After a year there he wished to visit his homeland. She granted him permission to do so, but warned him to remain on his fairyland horse. [The horse represented a protective equine extension of fairyland’s protective powers into the hero’s mortal world.] But tricked into dismounting, he was overtaken by death. Madame d’Aulnoy soon wrote another tale about fairyland, “The Yellow Dwarf” (Le Nain jaune). There a

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