chapter  5
Psychoanalysis, history and ideology: twentieth- and twenty-first-century approaches to fairy tale
Pages 31

Psychoanalysis, especially in the early stages of its conceptual formation, intimated that the fairy tale is a narrative form that is primarily concerned with the unchanging verities of the inner life of man, whilst cultural historians such as Robert Darnton criticised psychoanalysis for its want of historical perspective and for its ignorance of the textual specificities of fairy tales (Darnton 2001: 10-15). These two conceptual approaches, however, have not remained exclusive alternatives, but have increasingly been combined by scholars to create a form of analysis that is complex, stratified and integrated, drawing simultaneously upon the psychologist’s understanding of the ways in which fairy tales function at the latent levels to shape identity, and the historian’s recognition that the forms of identity that the fairy tale shapes are not timeless and universal, but culturally specific, and ideologically mutable. This psycho-historical form of analysis is widely practised in contemporary fairy-tale studies, and is exemplified in the work of scholars such as Zipes (1997: 39-60), Dundes (1989: 192-236) and Tatar (2006). It is represented at the end of this chapter by the collaborative work of two of the method’s pioneers: Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar.