The fairy tale, history.
The fairy tale had a magnificent development
in the East (Pancatantra; The Arabian Nights(The Thousand and One
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
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