The Authors of the Literary Fairy Tale Essay

The Authors of the Literary Fairy Tale Essay

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The Authors of the Literary Fairy Tale When asked to name authors of fairy tales, most people now (if they
knew at all) would answer the Grimm Brothers or Charles Perrault, and
perhaps Hans Christian Andersen.

Yet throughout history, fairy tales have been women's stories, passed
down orally by the mothers and grandmothers. When the tales began to
be a literary form, the number and output of female authors vastly
exceeds that of the males. The Grimm Brothers collected their tales
from peasants and edited them to suit their audience; most of
Perrault's stories are retellings of old tales. Although the female
authors included familiar elements, their now-forgotten tales were
largely more inventive, original and fantastical than their male
counterparts - and frequently nastier, too.

The Authors of the Literary Fairy Tale

In 1634, a cycle of fifty tales was published by Giambattista Basile,
in which can be found some of the earliest written versions of
familiar stories like "Sleeping Beauty". Basile's tone is bawdy and
comic; his narrators within the tale are old women, hags, crones and
old gossips, the stereotypical tellers of the "old wives' tale".

The women who brought the literary fairy tale to popularity fifty
years or so later were anything but "old wives". The story which
marked the beginning of the form was written by the Countess d'Aulnoy,
an aristocratic woman who tried to implicate her husband in a crime of
high tre...


... middle of paper ...


...ence to the young, telling
tales which outlined social functions and places, which saw the
virtuous rewarded, and adversity overcome. While people worked at
boring tasks, at sewing and spinning, tales would be told. While the
voices of the women were unheard politically, they were passing on
knowledge to the young.

The best-known tales today are the ones collected by the Grimms and
written by Perrault, changed to favour the charming Prince rather than
the clever heroine. Even so, throughout the tales still read today can
still be found traces of messages about the lives the tellers read,
from step-mother to mother-in-law to childbirth, their greatest killer
for many years. Modern writers are returning to fairy tale themes to
produce great works, taking them out of the children's nusery and back
where they belong.

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