TRAMES, 2007, 11(61/56), 3, 276283


CHARLES PERRAULT’S PARADOX: How aristocratic fairy tales became synonymous with folklore conservation

(full text in pdf format)


Lydie Jean


 University of Paris IV Sorbonne

 Abstract. At the end of the 17th century, Charles Perrault wrote what would remain his most famous book, and one of the biggest successes of French literature: the Histoires et Contes du temps passé. It is commonly thought that Perrault took the matter of his book directly from traditional folklore, in order to preserve its tales. However, studies show that even if he was inspired by folktales, he was not interested in their conservation. But the popularity of Perrault’s fairy tales has been so extensive that they finally returned to folklore, became an important part of it and finally helped to participated to its preserve itation –natuke segane, mis see eesti k on?. This process can be explained by successive causes, which all together made it possible. From the very beginning, Perrault’s fairy tales were modified to fit cheap publications. When it became a fashion to study folklore, his tales were analysed from a wrong angle. And when more serious studies were made, it was too late: one could no longer tell which tales were original folktales, and which were Perrault’s modified versions.

 Keywords: Charles Perrault, fairy tales, folklore, préciosité, popular tradition, literature



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