DOI link for The fairytale
The fairytale book
Fairytales are standardly considered a sub-genre of the folktale, itself a sub-genre of folklore, ‘traditional verbal materials and social rituals that have been handed down solely, or at least primarily, by word of mouth and by example rather than in written form’ (Abrams, 1957/ 1971:63). The literary fairytale is perceived as based on, or at least as sharing certain features of the traditional fairytale, but since motifs and plots from every type of folktale may surface in the works of writers of all types of literature for children, it will be useful to establish some criteria for the identification of fairytales as such. Folklorists have a similar concern, and we base our effort at definition on the folktale typology of Katharine Mary Briggs (1898-1980). However, since we are dealing with the fairytale as a sub-genre of literature for children, rather than as a sub-genre of the folktale, we shall have to move on from Briggs’ definition towards a definition which allows us, as hers does not, to distinguish the fairytale from the sub-genre of children’s literature which arguably resembles it most closely, namely children’s fantasy fiction.