On the genealogy of fairy tales and the Brothers Grimm

Since the beginning of the nineteenth century folklorists, and the general public in their wake, have assumed the orality of fairy tales. This book takes an extreme position in that debate: as far as Tales of magic is concerned, the initial transmission proceded exclusively through prints. It displays the conception, ancestry and offspring of the Golden Bird dwells on the construction of the story type, the way the story found its way into the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmärchen. In the book Magician and His Pupil in which superficially magic is conquered by magic, moreover provides a counterbalance to the, at least within Europe, much more widespread warning about the dangers of occult knowledge. The possibility of a connection between Jack and the Beanstalk and a shamanistic World Tree had occurred because of the Dutch story of a Great Ship with a mast reaching into a never-never land. The Sky High Tree offers not only an example of a post-Grimm fairy tale recorded from oral presentations, it also serves the purpose of tackling the question of the age of fairy tales from a slightly different angle. The book also discusses the main problems of fairy tale research: variation, orality and, in the story's reincarnation as The Healing Fruits, the concept of the conglomerate tale. A historical approach to fairy tales has profound consequences for the organisation of one of folklore's main methodological tools, the tale-type index.

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A late eighteenth-century Dutch witch doctor and his clients

In eighteenth-century Drenthe witchcraft was punishable in three ways: for publicly identifying suspected witches, for consulting specialists in the field of unwitching, and for practising as a fortune-teller or witch doctor. This chapter utilizes a local case study to chart the complex of expressions and actions concerning witchcraft and, through the reconstruction of the social, economical and political backgrounds of those involved. The name of the methodological trap is 'superstition' and its character is an often undeclared but determining element in the history of witchcraft studies. The self-educated Dutch folklorist, Tiesing, writing in 1913, tackled the problem openly. Evil people belonged to 'strange folks', people whom one could meet outside, 'outside the door' and to whom entrance could be refused. For judicial verdicts people had to rely on the Etstoel, which was established in Assen. Nevertheless, citizenships were sold in Meppel for five guilders and twelve stivers a person.

in Beyond the witch trials
witchcraft in the western Netherlands, 1850–1925

This chapter shows what thinking and acting in terms of witchcraft, in short the witchcraft discourse, implied for the way people dealt with space and to a lesser extent with time, as well as for what they thought about the body. This analysis is embedded in a discussion about the bewitched, the people they suspected of bewitchments, and the people they called in to help them. In the nineteenth century boiling a black chicken alive was, in fact, rather popular, especially in mid and western areas of the Netherlands. In some way the boiling chicken was connected to the witch and would draw her to the house. Numerous stories show a similar connection between witches and cats. The newspaper reports show that the diagnosis of a bewitchment and an unwitchment ritual were not individual events; family members and neighbours were actively consulted.

in Witchcraft Continued
Angela Carter’s werewolves in historical perspective

The film The Company of Wolves, was directed by Neil Jordan from a script he co-wrote with Angela Carter. It is necessary to frame the discussion by engaging with the discourse surrounding Neil Jordan's and, especially, Angela Carter's work. When Carter published her werewolf stories, folklorists were debating how to categorise 'Little Red Riding Hood'. The story 'Peau d'âne' resembles werewolf stories because of the shared animal skin. Female werewolves were very hard to find in Western European folklore texts, with their overwhelming majority of male werewolves. The medieval incest stories seem to stand apart from the werewolf stories. There is a transgression in the other main incest story cluster: the Maiden Without Hands, where the father-daughter union is first consummated and later avoided. Father-daughter incest was a theme in many medieval narratives and its history reaches back into the thirteenth century, to the French poem La Manekine.

in She-wolf
A prologue

Fairy tales were communicated mainly in bourgeois households where religion was interwoven with romanticism. The popular notions of fairy tale history, current during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ever since Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm composed their Kinder- und Hausmärchen (KHM), suffer from one major handicap: they are built on assertions rather than on evidence. The Magic Flight cluster demanded attention because it appeared to be the one story theme most represented in the KHM, with versions by Friederike Mannel, Dortchen Wild, Jeannette and Marie Hassenpflug and Ludowine von Haxthausen. Over the last few years fairy tale research has made great strides, although most of it is better available in German than in English, as is witnessed by standard works such as the multi-authored Enzyklopädie des Märchens and Walter Scherf's two-volume Märchenlexikon.

in Tales of magic, tales in print

The story of the quest for the devil's hairs is an early nineteenth century invention; it is only speculation that it ever existed in this form at some point during the Middle Ages, where fairy tales are generally situated. The story about the quest for the bird's feathers, or the devil's hairs, was included in the index under number ATU 461, more so because of its occurrence in the Kinder- und Hausmärchen (KHM) than because of its French ancestry. In the context of a discussion about the Three Hairs of the Devil's Head, a brief excursion into the genre characteristics of those tales of magic with the devil as prime opponent may be elucidating. In eastern and northern Europe the printed presence of the Quest for the Three Feathers can be attested for the whole of the nineteenth century.

in Tales of magic, tales in print

Fairies have appeared in literary works since the twelfth century. This chapter presents some medieval examples of fairy godmothers. The story cluster of the Kind and Unkind Girls offers the opportunity to investigate the fairy in the fairy story. Although the Grimms heard the German version of the Kind and Unkind Girls at least six times, it appeared only once in the main Kinder- und Hausmärchen (KHM) volumes: as the story of Frau Holle, in English known as 'Mother' Holle. For the Grimms Frau Holle represented one of the defining examples of mythological survivals. The German story of the good and the bad maiden of which the Grimms collected so many variants had a number of literary predecessors, in German, French and Italian.

in Tales of magic, tales in print

In the preface to the second, 1815 volume of the Kinder- und Hausmärchen (KHM), Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm took the opportunity to introduce one of their main storytellers. In her thesis on the medieval literary roots of fairy tales Maren Clausen-Stolzenburg concluded that Viehman was certainly not the 'perfect example of a simple farmer's woman, who ideally kept everything in her memory and transmitted it purely orally'. Some of her stories had already appeared in print before she related them to the Grimms. The Grimms became disillusioned with recording stories, although one would expect the opposite, since after the completion of the second KHM volume they turned their attention to German legends, of which the first volume appeared in 1816 and a second one in 1818. The concept of Naturpoesie is crucial for the understanding of the attitude of the brothers Grimm to Märchen.

in Tales of magic, tales in print
Abstract only
Towards a theory of talecraft

The eighteenth-century published French stories, including the Oriental and pseudo-Oriental stories translated into French or written directly in French, constitute the genre of fairy tales. Their reception elsewhere in Europe, first in the French language and in the course of the eighteenth-century also in translations, made the genre international, the more so when other authors started to write their own 'fairy tales'. A prime example of how folklore theory argues away the practice of storytelling in favour of the continuity of oral tradition can be found in the concept of 'craftsmanship'. The concept of 'craftmanship' attempts to allow for individual skill while adhering to a presumed collectivity. The 'craftsmanship' theory tries to reconcile the political notion of a collective 'folk' with the historicity of an individual skill, while denying extraneous influences such as printed texts and translations.

in Tales of magic, tales in print

A magical contest is present in the prose version of the Carolingian epic Malegijs, dating from 1556, without, however, any metamorphosis. During the nineteenth century the retelling of Maestro Lattantio evolved around a limited set of elements, mostly taken from other tales concerned with the acquisition of magical learning. This chapter discusses the tale's appearance in the Kinder- und Hausmärchen (KHM) and some nineteenth-century folklore notations. The popularity of the Finnish School has dwindled and folklore classification has acquired a life of its own. In other words, a re-examination of the Magician and His Pupil becomes opportune. A tour through its tradition necessarily starts in Gian Francesco Straparola's Venice and proceeds to the Middle East and India. The chapter examines the story's wanderings through the Islamic world before a final return to the theory of Indian origin.

in Tales of magic, tales in print