SurLaLune Header Logo

This is an archived string from the
SurLaLune Fairy Tales Discussion Board.

Back to October 2007 Archives Table of Contents

Return to Board Archives Main Page

Visit the Current Discussions on Yuku

Visit the SurLaLune Fairy Tales Main Page

Author
Comment
Wonderlicious
Registered User
(8/8/07 2:32 pm)


Doubtful cases
This isn't the usual "wondering what people consider not to be fairy-tales" discussion. Since I've been frequenting this board, I've noticed that some people seem to have a strict criteria on what is and isn't a fairy-tale. The things which follow are things which at least fall into the criteria of fairy-tale fantasy, and in my opinion, should be considered when discussing fairy-tales, since they contain various motifs found in folklore, yet I've noticed/could imagine that some people won't look at them when talking about fairy-tales.

*Andersen's tales (eg The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina etc)
*Wilde's tales (eg The Happy Prince, The Selfish Giant, The Nightingale and the Rose etc)
*The Arabian Nights
*Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass
*Peter Pan
*Pinocchio
*The Wizard of Oz
*A Midsummer Night's Dream
*The Nutcracker
*A Christmas Carol

I think that you may be shocked as why Andersen's tales are in there (considering how much he's considered to be as important as much as Grimm and Perrault), but I remember someone on here implying that "The Snow Queen" wasn't a true fairy-tale due to its original nature (though, it may just be me, but does anyone think that that story is similar to "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" in terms of having a girl go on a perilous search in the far North for a boy?), which gave me the impression somebody thought his tales weren't mentioning. Wilde's tales I only realised recently that some considered fairy-tales (I always assumed them to be general short stories), and have since come to understand why. I never knew that E.T.A. Hoffman existed for a long time and even when I did, I considered "The Nutcracker" to be a traditional fairy-tale, but seeing as how a bit of online research makes it seem as though it's a novella, I'm wondering if I ever should have. I think that some people don't consider "Arabian Nights" to be fairy-tales probably due to them being contained by a frame story and mislabelling as mythology. We all know that "Pinocchio" was originally a novel (well...serial that became a novel :-p), but contains fairy-tale elements (talking animals, transformations, fairies etc) and is now often considered a classic fairy-tale along the lines of "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty" these days by most people not immensely versed in folklore (for example, he appears in the "Shrek" films), and has evolved slightly since its publication just as the classic tales have, mainly due to the Disney film. Similar things goes for "Peter Pan" and to a lesser extent for "Alice in Wonderland" (it's considered less often by naive folk to be a traditional fairy-tale, but it is a magical story full of transformation and talking animals and the popular image/misconception of "Looking Glass" elements being in "Wonderland" has evolved through time, mainly due to the Disney movie). "The Wizard of Oz", too, has been come to be seen by many as a classic fairy-tale due to its popularity and elements (in particular witches, for this one) and its generally perceived story has evolved into a slightly different one to its original (due to MGM). And finally, yes, to say "A Christmas Carol" is a bit of a stretch (I'm not sure myself if I'd consider looking at it if I were researching fairy-tales), but its magical nature and eternal themes make it akin to a fairy-tale at least.

Do you consider the above stories like me to be worth mentioning in the study of fairy-tales?

Alyson H
Registered User
(8/8/07 5:22 pm)


Re: Doubtful cases
Oh, it's tricky, alright.

People usually think of fairy tales as the stories collected from oral tradition. Of course, I'm currently reading a collection of tales that are considered fairy tales, even though most of them are original creations and were written from the 19th century to the late 1980's. In a sense, yes, the stories you have mentioned above should be worth mentioning. And we have other authors worth mentioning that contributed this genre.

George MacDonald and his works that even inspired J.R.R. Tolkien...?
Angela Carter and her post-feminist spin on classic tales...?
Lord Dunsany...?
T.H. White...?
Neil Gaiman (hey, he wrote "Stardust" and even included a version of "Little Red Ridding Hood" in one of his issue of "Sandman")...?

Even other authors strayed from their usual genres to dabble with writing fairy tales.

Nathaniel Hawthorn
H.G. Wells
Robert Louis Stevenson

The point is I agree with you.

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(8/8/07 7:42 pm)


Re: Doubtful cases
The thing is, "fairy tale" was used to mean a lot of things that we would, nowadays, call "fantasy." Not only, say The Wizard of Oz (which was, indeed, intended as an American fairy tale), but Animal Farm, and The Lord of the Rings.

The term fantasy is often applied retrospectively to works that their contemporaries called fairy tales.

janeyolen
Registered User
(8/9/07 5:36 am)


Re: Doubtful cases
But it is infinitely more complicated than that. For example, "The Ugly Duckling" (Andersen), "The Princess and the Pea" (Andersen),
"Sleeping Ugly" (mine), "Come Again in the Spring" (Kennedy),
and hundreds of others written as art--original--fairy tales have gone back into the folk canon, being retold by storytellers around the world.

Jane

Mnemosynehime
Registered User
(8/9/07 5:02 pm)


Re: Doubtful cases
Hmmm, I've placed Carroll, Hoffmann, Barrie, and others like C. S. Lewis under children's lit or fantasy. I suppose as they were closer to fantasy than say folklore. Which is sometimes really hard to differentiate when you have authors such as many of the French who have very "conscious" fairy tales and in some ways read more on the fantasy end or even social commentary rather than anything even close to folkloric.

I don't know how many people have picked up the Princess Tutu series, but it has a wonderful discussion of this problem underneath the surface. The first half of the series invokes stories that are based more on the heart, emotion, and the finale of the middle is based around this idea. The second half of the series is more literary, more psychological than the first half, and I think in its own way illustrates a kind of shift from the instinctive folkloric to the literary nature of the fairy tale of modern times.

Anime-Myth.com

"I may be a woman, but I'm a warrior." ~ Oscar Francois de Jarjayes

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(8/10/07 12:52 am)


maarchen
In The Fairytale as Art Form and Portrait of Man. Max Lüthi. PN3437.L79813 1984 ... Once Upon a Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales, Max Luthi used the term 'maarchen'. He also set out some qualities that distinguished 'maarchen/fairytale' from 'local legend'.

Here's a site useful for distinguishing the stricter meaning of 'fairy tale', citing Luthi, Propp, and Bettelheim.

These define a story as a 'fairy tale' not by its history or origin, but by its internal qualities and structure -- though those seem to coincide with the 'folkloric' tradition (ie Grimm, Propp, Calvino).

On edit: I think this is the link I meant to insert:
www.strangehorizons.com/2...el-a.shtml
That Fairy-Tale Feel: A Folkloric Approach to Meredith Ann Pierce's The Darkangel
By Marie Brennan

Edited by: Rosemary Lake at: 9/30/07 9:19 pm
catja1
Registered User
(9/21/07 10:27 am)


Re: Doubtful cases
This is why scholars like Jack Zipes have tried to popularize the use of the term "fairy tale" to mean a *literary* story, and prefer "Zaubermaerchen" for folkloric material. German is more precise, here -- one can talk about "Maerchen" (tales), "Zaubermaerchen" (magic/wonder tales) and "Kunstmaerchen" ("art"/literary tales). Zipes wants "fairy tale" to become the English equivalent of "Kunstmaerchen." This usage can also be used to talk about literary stories that have made it into the folk repertoire -- the literary version is "Kunstmaerchen" and the folk versions are "Zaubermarchen." Thus, Andersen's "Ugly Duckling" belongs to the category "Kunstmaerchen," but any folk iterations belong to the category "Zaubermaerchen."

I think trying to limit "fairy tale" to "Kunstmaerchen" is a losing battle, but I do agree that we need to distinguish between literary tales and tales from the folk tradition, when we're talking about such stories; the use of "fairy tale" for both muddies the issue.

Van45us
Registered User
(9/26/07 10:16 pm)


Re: Doubtful cases
And then there are all the Grimm tales and Salon tales that didn't come from a folk tradition but are believed to have anyway. I think if one feels the needs to segregate actual folk fairy tales from literary tales, it's just a matter of research? My two cents, anyway.

Writerpatrick
Registered User
(9/27/07 1:34 pm)


re:doubtful cases
I think it's often a matter of intent. The typical "fairy tale" is a short story with fanciful elements. And since it's origins are in folk tradition, they tend to be public domain stories with (except in a few cases) no known authors. There are "modern" fairy tales created with the intent of the stories being like the traditional tales of wonder.

*Andersen's tales (eg The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina etc)
*Wilde's tales (eg The Happy Prince, The Selfish Giant, The Nightingale and the Rose etc)

In both cases the stories were created as fairy tales so they would be. There are modern authors who use the fairy tale form. Nowadays they would likely be called magic realism short stories.

*The Arabian Nights

It's a collection of Arabian folk stories. The only argument would be the specific term "fairy" since no actual fairies were involved in the production of those stories. Arabic beings appear instead. But they are as close to fairy tales as any non-European stories could be.

*Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass

I've always considered this more of a novel than a fairy tale. It has a specific author and is told in a specific way. The typical fairy tale allows for variation in it's telling since it's the elements of the story that are important, not the specific text. Not all children's fiction are fairy tales.

*Peter Pan

This was written as a play. Because it's a children's story it is often thrown in with fairy tales like Alice.

*Pinocchio

I don't know enough of the origins of the story, but it would seem to classify as a fairy tale.

*The Wizard of Oz

A novel, or series of novels, so it's a little long to fall into the fairy tale category. Again, it's a children's story but not necissarily a fairy tale.

*A Midsummer Night's Dream

A play based upon fairy tale characters. Similar to Into The Woods and The 10th Kingdom.

*The Nutcracker

My understanding is that the story started as a ballet, or at least that's what it's become known as. However, fairy tales have been popular material for ballet. Given the structural elements of the story it could be told as one.

*A Christmas Carol

This is definately not a fairy tale, it's a novel. If anything it's a ghost story but not a fairy tale. The story might read like a fairy tale, but to call this a fairy tale is like calling Ghostbusters a fairy tale.

In many cases it comes down to degree. The more modern a story is, the better known the author and the longer the story, the less likely it is to be a fairy tale. Fairy tales originate from the folk tradition but it's still common for modern writers to create original stories (or at least as original as possible).

I wasn't intending to put a plug in here, but have a listen to King's Dragon found in my latest Podcast Ping podcast at podcastping.blogspot.com. It's about 13 minutes into the podcast. It's a poem that tells a tale about a king dealing with a dragon. I wrote it only a few years ago but the story could be taken for a fairy tale although it was never intended as one. (I admit it's not the best reading but it's a hard one to get through.)

DJfromMA
Registered User
(10/1/07 12:44 pm)


Re: re:doubtful cases
>>The Arabian Nights
It's a collection of Arabian folk stories. The only argument would be the specific term "fairy" since no actual fairies were involved in the production of those stories. Arabic beings appear instead. But they are as close to fairy tales as any non-European stories could be.<<

That's part of the definition question:
Show me where any actual "fairies" show up in Grimm's German tales, even in the Perrault imports.

>>A Midsummer Night's Dream
A play based upon fairy tale characters. Similar to Into The Woods and The 10th Kingdom.<<

Actually, Shakespeare's venture into the "Pastoral masque" genre, which's why we have (supposedly) mythological characters, a fact he forgets halfway through the first act once the comic-relief peasants show up.
If Macbeth proved Will "should have written a fairytale" (as Tolkien said), well, this was closer.

>>A Christmas Carol
This is definately not a fairy tale, it's a novel. If anything it's a ghost story but not a fairy tale. The story might read like a fairy tale, but to call this a fairy tale is like calling Ghostbusters a fairy tale.<<

As much as Charles was exorcising his own personal demons, he had been hired to write a Christmas story every year, and was also a friend and mutual-admiration fan of Hans Christian Andersen around the same time--
It's been theorized that this was Dickens' attempt to dabble in an "Embodied allegory" Andersen fairytale, as much as "Little Match Girl" was Andersen playing with a heart-tugging "Orphan-waif victim of society" story.

(And I'll second Mnem's fan-plug for "Princess Tutu", now that it's on DVD, just for its surreal attempt to create a world out of Tchaikovsky-ballet tales.
Not that it has as much bearing on the real-vs.-artificial discussion, but it's a good starter for newbies unacquainted with Japanese anime.)

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(10/1/07 5:42 pm)


Re: re:doubtful cases
Show me where any actual "fairies" show up in Grimm's German tales, even in the Perrault imports.

In the first edition!

Besides purging the collection of too-French tales, they also changed the language. Every fee became a wise woman or an enchantress. (By the same rule, they used "king's daughter" and "king's son" instead of "princess" and "prince", French imports.)

But, overall, very few fairy tales contain fairies. The précieuses used them a lot, but if you read folk French fairy tales, they feature in them very seldom -- as in the English, Irish, Scottish, etc.

So, yeah, "no fairies" is a weak argument against Arabian Nights.

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(10/1/07 5:45 pm)


Re: re:doubtful cases
>>A Christmas Carol
This is definately not a fairy tale, it's a novel. If anything it's a ghost story but not a fairy tale. The story might read like a fairy tale, but to call this a fairy tale is like calling Ghostbusters a fairy tale.<<

As much as Charles was exorcising his own personal demons, he had been hired to write a Christmas story every year, and was also a friend and mutual-admiration fan of Hans Christian Andersen around the same time--


I note that the ghost story was very popular for Christmas among the Victorians. Witness The Turn of the Screw, also for Christmas, and described by its writer as "a fairy-tale pure and simple"

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(10/2/07 4:26 am)


Baum, Lewis
I think when people call something like "A Christmas Carol" a fairy tale, they mean something quite different than Baum meant when he called THE WIZARD OF OZ 'an American fairy tale', or Lewis when speaking of THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE he said something like "I fell in love with the fairytale form."

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(10/2/07 5:24 pm)


Re: Baum, Lewis
Well, part of that was that the "fantasy" genre didn't really exist at that point. No one had started to label stories as fantasy, and so they got lumped elsewhere.

Just like, once upon a time, there weren't fairy tales. There were just tales and some of them were tales we would call fairy tales.

catja1
Registered User
(10/4/07 1:55 pm)


Re: Baum, Lewis
But, overall, very few fairy tales contain fairies. The précieuses used them a lot, but if you read folk French fairy tales, they feature in them very seldom -- as in the English, Irish, Scottish, etc.

So, yeah, "no fairies" is a weak argument against Arabian Nights.


Yes. Most stories that are concerned with fairies-qua-fairies are *legends* (folk history, told as true or "true" in a real-world sense), rather than "fairy tales"/Zaubermaerchen. As Propp pointed out, in fairy tales, *what* a particular character is (fairy, witch, stepmother, talking bear) seems to matter a lot less then the role he/she/it plays (helper or villain). When fairies show up in "fairy tales," it rarely seems to matter that they're *fairies* -- they don't have any powers that aren't theoretically also available to witches, stepmothers, talking animals, etc. There are not that many "fairy tales" where the inherent fairy-ness of a character is important in and of itself.

This confusion is why most folklorists prefer German terms.

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(10/4/07 5:14 pm)


Re: Baum, Lewis
Well, now, it depends on which fairy tales the fairies appear in. In the précieuses' work, no, but in
Whuppity Stoorie, the fairy's interest in the baby is certainly very fairy, and then in Kate Crackernuts, the prince is being danced to death, attending the fairy revels every night, and that was a folk theory for TB, that the victims danced at the fairy hill every night and so died of exhaustion.

The more folk a fairy tale is, the more likely that any fairy is a fairy. (In fact, they often blur with legends.)

Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(10/4/07 8:00 pm)


Nutcracker
Quote:
My understanding is that the story started as a ballet, or at least that's what it's become known as. However, fairy tales have been popular material for ballet. Given the structural elements of the story it could be told as one.


The Nutcracker ballet is based on a Hoffmann fairy tale.:rolleyes

SurLaLune Logo

amazon logo with link

This is an archived string from the
SurLaLune Fairy Tales Discussion Board.

©2008 SurLaLune Fairy Tale Pages

Back to October 2007 Archives Table of Contents

Return to Board Archives Main Page

Visit the Current Discussions on Yuku

Visit the SurLaLune Fairy Tales Main Page