THE growing interest in the popular tales of Europe has led me to believe that a selection from those of Italy would be entertaining to the general reader, and valuable to the student of comparative folk-lore.
The stories which, with but few exceptions, are here presented for the first time to the English reader, have been translated from recent Italian collections, and are given exactly as they were taken down from the mouths of the people, and it is in this sense, belonging to the people, that the word popular is used in the title of this work. I have occasionally changed the present to the past tense, and slightly condensed by the omission of tiresome repetitions;  but otherwise my versions follow the original closely, too closely perhaps in the case of the Sicilian tales, which, when recited, are very dramatic, but seem disjointed and abrupt when read.
The notes are intended to supplement those of Pitrè and Köhler by citing the stories published since the Fiabe, Novelle e Racconti, and the Sicilianische Märchen, and also to furnish easy reference to the parallel stories of the rest of Europe. As the notes are primarily intended for students I have simply pointed out the most convenient sources of information and those to which I have had access. My space has obliged me to restrict my notes to what seemed to me the most important, and I have as a rule given only references which I have verified myself.
My object has been simply to present to the reader and student unacquainted with the Italian dialects a tolerably complete collection of Italian popular tales; with theories as to the origin and diffusion of popular tales in general, or of Italian popular tales in particular, I have nothing to do at present either in the text or notes. It is for others to draw such inferences as this collection seems to warrant.
It was, of course, impossible in my limited space to do more than give a small selection from the class of Fairy Tales numbering several hundred; of the other classes nearly everything has been given that has been published down to the present date. The Fairy Tales were selected to represent as well as possible typical stories or classes, and I have followed in my arrangement, with some modification and condensation, Hahn's Märchen- und Sagformeln (Griechische und Albanesische Märchen, vol. i. p. 45), an English version of which may be found in W. Henderson's Notes on the Folk-lore of the Northern Counties of England and the Borders. With an Appendix on Household Stories, by S. Baring-Gould. London, 1866.
In conclusion, I must express my many obligations to Dr. Giuseppe Pitrè, of Palermo, without whose admirable collection this work would hardly have been undertaken, and to the library of Harvard College, which so generously throws open its treasures to the scholars of less favored institutions.
T. F. CRANE.
ITHACA, N. Y., September 9, 1885.