chapter
9 Pages

Introduction

Fire of Life (Rushdie 2010a) in the epigraph for this chapter is an eloquent expression of this idea: fairy tales, like myths and legends, take different forms at different times, and the forms they take reflect the places in which they have settled, and the particular historical moments interpreted and preserved. neither is it innocent of it speaks powerfully of the These principles study which

seeks, throughout, tale, and the

emergence of fairy-tale criticism, in social and historical perspective. Chapter 1 seeks to define the fairy tale by presenting it as a metamorphic genre, shaped and reshaped by shifting attitudes to the concept of the ‘folk’. Chapter 2 traces the emergence of the fairy tale as a recognisable literary form, briefly surveying the manifestation of fairy-tale plots in ancient literatures, but focusing primarily upon the innovations in fairy-tale writing made in Early Modern Italy and Enlightenment France by the writers Giovan Francesco Straparola (c. 1480-c. 1558), Giambattista Basile (c. 15751632), Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy (c. 1650-1705) and Charles Perrault (1628-1703). Chapter 3 extends this historical account, concentrating upon consolidation of the modern European model of the literary fairy tale in the work of the Brothers Grimm (Jacob, 1785-1863, Wilhelm, 1786-1859) and Hans Christian Andersen (1805-75). In the fourth and fifth chapters, this study then shifts focus to concentrate upon critical and theoretical responses to the genre. Chapter 4 examines shifting attitudes to the popular traditional tale from the classical period to the midtwentieth century, looking in particular at the efforts made by scholars in the nineteenth and early twentieth century to understand where fairy tales came from, how they were disseminated across time and space, how they can be catalogued and classified, and what formal properties they have. Chapter 5, following on from this, investigates twentieth-and twenty-first-century endeavours to understand the meaning of fairy tales, concentrating upon psychoanalytic, Marxist and socio-historical analyses of the genre. This chapter also brings us to the fairy tale’s present, showing how the influence of critical and conceptual analysis of fairy tales, in particular feminist analysis, has helped shape recent revisionist approaches to fairy tale in literature and film. These revisionist approaches, it is argued, engage in a complex intertextual response to fairy tale, seeking simultaneously to recuperate some aspects of tradition and about which it

is difficult to shaped by the East and the has existed in visual culture, at any one time it is capable of residual and

emergent ideas. This quality gives the contemporary response to fairy tales one of its distinctive features: it allows writers, filmmakers and artists to play one model of fairy tale off against another (Warner 1994: 4). But though contemporary approaches to fairy tale have tended to self-consciously foreground the process by which one story replies to another, the fairy tale has, in an important sense, always been dialogical, since new fairy tales in every period necessarily respond, in manifold ways, to existing tradition. The present study aims to capture something of the character of this engagement with tradition, and in so doing to show how the fairy tale reflects the complex processes of exchange and transmission that form the basis of human culture.