Preserving the SpellBasile's "The Tale of Tales" and Its Afterlife in the Fairy-Tale Tradition

Preserving the SpellBasile's "The Tale of Tales" and Its Afterlife in the Fairy-Tale Tradition

Armando Maggi

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226242965

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

This book emphasizes that folk and fairy tales are meant to undergo constant transformations to the point of becoming unrecognizable. My book questions the received idea that classical tales such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are eternal as Perrault or the Brothers Grimm told them. Challenging the traditional division between ‘oral’ and ‘literary’ tale, this book interprets ‘oral’ and ‘written’ in a new way. ‘Oral’ is a form of storytelling that is obscure, incomplete, disrespectful, and immoral, whereas ‘literary’ is what is told in a coherent and moral manner. This view of ‘oral’ versus ‘literary’ tale is already visible in Basile’s The Tale of Tales (1634), the first book of the Western tradition of literary fairy tales. Basile’s book is a literary product but reads like the transcription of a sequence of oral tales. In my analysis of The Tale of Tales, I identify in the myth of Cupid and Psyche a fundamental narrative that gave birth to innumerable other tales. The second part of this book examines how German Romanticism appropriated and interpreted Basile’s Italian collection of tales. My book examines how the Brothers Grimm and Clemens Brentano offered two very different adaptations of Basile’s book. The third part of the book deals with American post-modern interpretation of classical fairy tales.