chapter  10
21 Pages

Bedtime Storytelling Revisited: Le Père Castor and Children’s Audiobooks: Brigitte Ouvry-Vial

ByBRIGITTE OUVRY-VIAL

Whereas audiobooks in Britain and the United States have been popular for a long time, they are newcomers in France, having developed in the last decade of the twentieth century. As is the case with their English counterparts, audiobook production in France consists of classic or contemporary texts recorded by their authors or by actors in order to be listened to at home, in cars, or elsewhere. A quick overview of the target market shows that, in France, audiobooks were initially intended for young people, then developed for language instruction and for visually impaired people. The latest target market of the audiobook industry is women, who represent 75 percent of printed book readers. Yet so far in a country that propounds its “cultural exception” and literary tradition, the total number of audiobooks hardly matches one-tenth of the total in the United States. This is partly because the audiobook in France is still linked with the tradition of children’s narratives dating back to Charles Perrault’s Le petit chaperon rouge (in Contes de ma mère Loye), fi rst published in 1695, in which a comment in the margins of the manuscript indicates the intended oral recitation of the tale for young people: “On prononce ces mots d’une voix forte pour faire peur à l’enfant comme si le loup l’allait manger” (These words are to be spoken in a loud voice in order to scare the child as if the wolf was about to eat him).1