CHARLES PERRAULT’S PARADOX: How aristocratic fairy tales became synonymous with folklore conservation
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
to its .
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. ation –natuke segane, mis see eesti k on?
Keywords: Charles Perrault, fairy tales, folklore, préciosité, popular tradition, literature
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