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The Fairy Tale and the fables.
The difference between fable and fairy tale.


It is necessary to distinguish between fable and fairy tale, even if the border between the two is so unclear that the two words are sometimes improperly swapped.

The fairy tale is in prose, it usually has as its main character a man, in whose events good and evil spirits, devils, witches, fairies, etc., interfere; it has a more complex narrative development; a more fanciful character; it has not necessarily a pedagogical and moral aim; it has folk origins, and a development by oral tradition, even if, especially during the Romanticism, men of letters turned to the world of fairy tales either to collect them or to invent them from the beginning.

The fairy tale.
Elements of the fairy tale:

The figures of the fairy tale
The function of the fairy tale
The weft of the fairy tale
Fairy tales for children

Some fairy tales and link about it:

LeFiabe.com: fairy tales for childre.

The fairy tales, the aim of which was just to amuse, often speak of fantastic and unreal things.
The fairy tales, transmitted by word of mouth through the centuries, intended just for children, to whom they were told by the fireside in the evening, before they went to sleep, have always enchanted the children's imagination (the adult people's imagination too), much more than fables. The fairy tale represents a narrative genre spread all over the world, in any kind of culture. Of course, there are some differences between the usages and customs described in the oriental fairy tales, and the ones present in the occidental fairy tales: but the meaning and the atmosphere are just the same.

In the fairy tales we can find very ancient beliefs in supernatural beings, narrations of magic deeds which are intended to invoke or avoid their interference and references to ancient customs; for this reason the fairy tale represents an important document for the ethnologist and the folklorist, too, as they can notice similarities of themes in fairy tales of different times and among peoples very far the ones from the others.

The fairy tale, history.

The fairy tale had a magnificent development in the East (Pancatantra; The Arabian Nights(The Thousand and One Nights)).
It was not present among the Greeks and the Romans; in the West it kept on living by oral and folk tradition and it was often an occasion for refined artistical compositions.
The fairy tales were collected by the folk writers in person and transcribed since the Seventeenth century. The first one was the writer, G.B. Basile (1575-1632) with the beautiful collection of fifty fairy tales in Neapolitan dialect, called Lo Cunto de li Cunti (or Pentamerone).
At the Court of the King Louis XIV of France, Charles Perault (1628-1703) revised Basile's folk tales, basing himself also on the observation of the court life, in his famous Mamma Goose's Tales, a collection of some of the most famous traditional fairy tales.
Very important were, in the Eighteenth Century, the translation and circulation in Europe of The Arabian Nights, a very rich collection of fairy tales of the Arabian and oriental world, like the Sinbad's Journeys or Aladdin and the magic lamp.
It was above all in the Nineteenth Century that the old traditional fairy tales were transcribed in many European countries; in order to find a transcription really faithful to the folk language and tradition, we have to wait for the Household Tales, by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, collected just at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century. The sources of their most famous collection Fairy tales for children and families were friends and acquaintances and above all a poor and illiterate elderly lady, Dorothea Viehmann. They were persuaded that through fairy tales they would have let everybody, not only children, know and love the culture and traditions of their own Country. Among the fairy tales they collected, the best-known are: Thumbling and Hansel and Gretel.
During the Romanticism the fairy tales were appreciated as the expression of naïve poetry, and it was started their systematic collection.
Grimm's example was followed in Russia by Aleksandr Afanas'ev (1826-1871); since he was a boy, he began to rewrite the fairy tales and the folk legends that the peasants told in the evening by the fire during the long and cold winters. In 1855 he published the first volume of his fairy tales, which was followed by seven more.
In Norway Peter Abiornsen and Jorgen Moe collected fairy tales.
Italo Calvino (1923-1985), one of the most famous Italian writers of the Twentieth Century, in 1956 published in Italy the richest collection of Italian Fairy Tales, coming from the fable heritage of all the regions. He did not rewrite tales told by word of mouth, but he rewrote in Italian tales in dialect coming from the books of different Italian regions, so that they could be understood by everybody.
The writers of fables, instead, elaborated stories and plots invented by themselves; a great classical author is Danish, Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), an author famous for his tales, among which we can remember The Little Match-Seller and The Ugly Duckling.
Among the most important authors of the Nineteenth Century we find Italian Emma Parodi and Luigi Capuana, while in the Twentieth Century , the Irish authors: Oscar Wilde and William B. Yeats.

The time setting of the fairy tales:

The time setting of the fables is vague, beyond the opening formulae; the characteristic environments are fabulous castles or poor people's modest little houses, dark woods, far-away countries, small villages with streets and shops, but in any case in the fairy tales the places are always vague, described with generic expressions.

About The fairy.

The fairy tales almost always tell about great difficulties and dangers to be braved, about white and black magic, about extraordinary voyages. They often reflect the world where the ones who told them were living. In the western fairy tales we often find the image of Europe of those times, before the modern age: the very thick and untouched woods of the Northern Countries, great extents of uninhabited lands, the hunger, the cold, the fear, the bandits; and then, the peasants', the woodsmen's, or the lords' life; and we also find the animals which often were the family's only property or were just the most precious companions, like the horses.

The fairy tales are stories which follow a very simple and consistent narrative scheme; they usually present an opening situation where the main characters, the place and time settings are briefly outlined. Very soon comes out a problem, a situation to be solved, the complication around which the whole fairy tale will be created. At this point there is the adventure's development, till we arrive at a conclusion, a happy ending where all the difficulties are overcome and the problems are solved.

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