Fairy Tales Framed: Early Forewords, Afterwords, and Critical Words
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2012 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Translations of the forewords and afterwords by original fairy tale authors and commentaries by their contemporaries, material that has not been widely published in English. Most early fairy tale authors had a lot to say about what they wrote. Charles Perrault explained his sources and recounted friends’ reactions. His niece Marie-Jeanne Lhéritier and her friend Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy used dedications and commentaries to situate their tales socially and culturally, while the raffish Henriette Julie de Murat accused them all of taking their plots from the Italian writer Giovan Francesco Straparola and admitted to borrowing from the Italians herself. These reflections shed a bright light on both the tales and on their composition, but in every case, they were removed soon after their first publication. Remaining largely unknown, their absence created empty space that later readers filled with their own views about the conditions of production and reception of the tales. What their authors had to say about “Puss in Boots,” “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “Rapunzel,” among many other fairy tales, is collected here for the first time, newly translated and accompanied by rich annotations. Also included are revealing commentaries from the authors’ literary contemporaries. As a whole, these forewords, afterwords, and critical words directly address issues that inform the contemporary study of European fairy tales, including traditional folkloristic concerns about fairy tale origins and performance, as well as questions of literary aesthetics and historical context. “This combination of introductory information and primary sources makes the book indispensable for serious students of fairy tale literature. Taken as a whole, the essays create a lively picture of the enterprise of fairy tale creation … Highly recommended.” — CHOICE “There are many multifaceted gems in this collection and they will prove rewarding reading for those working with European fairy tales.” — Maria Tatar, editor of The Classic Fairy Tales: Texts, Criticism Ruth B. Bottigheimer teaches European fairy tales and British children’s literature at Stony Brook University, State University of New York. She is the author of several books, including Fairy Tales: A New History, also published by SUNY Press, and Fairy Godfather: Straparola, Venice, and the Fairy Tale Tradition.
courtesans and their clients in modest surroundings. Those called upon to tell a story—be it in a royal court or in a lowly tavern—were faced with the daunting task of plucking just the right tale from a seemingly endless array of choices. The authors gathered in this section of the anthology aimed to distinguish the fairy tale from the other types of tales in this sea of stories while simultaneously indicating to their readers those tales which were considered most worthy of being retold. What
again an obscene set of dialogic exchanges. In the original Venetian dialect, the responses rhyme, and I have followed suit, using non-Italian (Suskind) or invented surnames that closely resemble the Italian in sound and/or sense (Fioravanti = Flowerward). 13. Calmo’s “Godmother Goose” is one of the earliest, if not the earliest reference to this stock reference for the ﬁgure. 14. “Fraibolan” means “ﬂute player” or “piper” but could also be a proper name. “Letter to Signora Frondosa” / 51 bird,
reminds him of their previous encounter, and entertains him most lavishly. And when Messer Torello falls ill, he is conveyed by magic in the space of a single night to Pavia, where his wife’s second marriage is about to be solemnized. But he is recognized by his wife at the wedding-feast, whence he returns with her to his house.” See McWilliam (1972), xxi–ii, 764. 10. Decameron, X.5. “Madonna Dianora asks her suitor Messer Ansaldo for a beautiful May garden in the month of January, and Messer
advances. At the time, it was well known that Louis XIV identiﬁed personally with the main character because of his own unrequited, or at least unconsummated, love for Mme de Maintenon. Mme de Sévigné’s playful aside thus shows the operatic world of ofﬁcial culture and the intensely observed preferences of a monarch intersecting with the private culture of storytelling among courtiers. It also offers an instance of a veiled yet nonetheless revealing insider’s perception of a fairyland ﬁction at
importance when Pietro Bembo argued that all authors who wished to write in Italian should imitate Petrarch when writing poetry and Boccaccio when writing prose. Boccaccio’s collection became the model par excellence for all subsequent novellieri (tale writers). In the earliest fairy-tale compositions, both Giovan Francesco Straparola and Giambattista Basile adhered structurally to the Decameron’s frame tale convention. Straparola idealized his narrators as Boccaccio had done and frequently wove