Dis-Missal of the Great French Fairy Tale Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Dis-missal of the great French fairy tale writers from the palace of King Louis XIV help revolutionize the literary French fairy tales?

French fairytales and literature are indeed a topic that is worth discussing. This is because the work compiled by the French writers, back in the 17th and 18th century is still part of the English as well as French literature. Nowadays, the term fairy tale is used by many people to refer to the magical stories that are told to small children. This word has actually been derived from the French term "Conte de Fees," which was a label given to a couple of tales written for adults in the 17th century (Windling).

Many people are not aware of the fact that even the magical stories that are told to children today, Sleeping Beauty, The White Deer, Donkeyskin and Cinderella (to name a few), are in fact adaptations from the simpler versions of the French folk tales (Windling).

In this paper we shall go back to the 17th and 18th century to bring into limelight the literary works of the French writers and poets at that time. An analysis of these works is important in order for us to establish that indeed the dismissal of the great French fairy tales writers from the palace of King Louis XIV led to the revolution in the literary French fairy tales. The revolution was also a part of their movement to about education, equality and humanitarianism in the French society. We shall also consider how the folk fairy tales were modified so that they became a part of the literary French fairy tales.

Meanwhile there is much evidence that suggests that the dismissal of the fairy tale writers and poets is what caused the French literary revolution, it cannot be denied that much of the revolution took place in the reign of King Louis XIV. This is why many critiques and analysts think that he also deserves some credit for this revolution.

Brief history of literary French revolution

Literary French revolution started in the 17th century and concluded in the 18th century. At that time, there was a somewhat similar literary movement going on in England. However, the French writers of the 18th century are renowned for their innovative writings and ideas. Apart from being innovative, they were also critical and skeptical. The ideas presented by them during that time are still part of the English and French literature. These ideas include progress, liberty, humanitarianism, toleration and equality.

The 18th century in general and the reign of King Louis XIV of France in particular was the time when there was huge social, economic, political and above all intellectual transformation. This transformation gave birth to two kinds of philosophical and literary movements. The first group of people were those who were called Lumieres, and the other movement that is in fact is a reaction to the first one; Romanticism (Masson).

. It has been stated that Romanticism came to the surface at the same time of the 18th century as did the French Revolution (Carlyle). Romanticism is what dignified the role that emotions play in art and life. This is was the movement that the great writers of the French fairy tales became a part of and started writing poems and novels that depicted romanticism. The romantics were of the view that humans should be treated as unique individuals and should not just be subjected to scientific rule.

As there was enormous development in almost every field during the 17th and 18th century, it can be worked out that much of the literary development took place during this era. French theatre was started in the 18th century. The influence of the great playwrights including Racine, Moliere and Corneille continued to work, through the 17th as well as 18th century, on the Comedie-Francaise. However, what gave the French theatre a whole new life were the painful stories of Voltaire. Since literary revolution also induced royal censorship, a play called "The Marriage of Figaro" written by Beaumarchais was banned in many places because it ended in a political message (Marco Ferro 201).

There were many kinds of novels that were written during the time of French literary revolution. Some of these kinds included philosophical novels, novels of imagination, novels of feelings, novels of broken apart, libertine and erotic novels and realistic novels. These novels were innovative and work of fiction by some of the great French fairy tale writers. These novels were just not simple stories; they demonstrated different mindsets along with twists in the plots that engaged the reader in a way that he would imagine the setting as is explained so realistically by the writer.

It was in the 18th century that the autobiographies became very popular, especially "The Life of My Father" and "The dreams of a solitary walker," to name a few. Apart from this, French poetry also flourished during this time. Some great poets of that time included Jacques Delille (1738-1813) Evariste de Parny (1753-1814). Meanwhile the poet of the 18th century who is equally renowned today as he was at that time is Andre Chenier (1762-1794).

French fairy tales

Now we will take a closer look at the fairy tales that were written during the reign of King Louis XIV in the 17th and 18th century.

The first thing that needs to be done is that we need to differentiate the old folk tales from literary fairy tales. Stories of fairies, witches and sorcerers have always been a part of the tradition of storytelling since the beginning of time. The folk tales are just humble stories without the complex involvement of lunar cycles and very long romances. Also, these are the tales that have been passed on from one generation to another. It is also worth noting that these stories have been passed on by the people who consist of the lower caste, for example the peasants, gypsies, slaves and women.

On the other hand, the literary fairy tales were a part of literature that was started by the upper classes. The beginning of these literary fairy tales can be attributed to the progress that was made in printing as well as the increase in the literacy rate. However, it cannot be denied that the literary fairy tales find their roots in the folk tales, the ones that have been passed on through generations by peasants. Apart from the folk tales, literary fairy tales also borrow from Romance, myth and other literary sources like Boccaccio's "Decameron" and Apuleius's "Golden Ass."

Writers who started writing literary fairy tales from the 17th century onwards are still praised for their outstanding work and contribution in the field of literature. One of such great writers in France was Charles Perrault, who wrote literary fairy tales that were almost exactly like the ones one would get to hear from peasants.

It is interesting to note that women are also a part of the literary tales work as they were a part of the folk tale tradition. According to a reference volume of "Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Myth and Legend, written by Maria Leach, we find out that in the 17th century, there were many females who followed in the footsteps of Charles Perrault he was successful in publishing "Les Contes de ma Mere l'Oyle back in 1697. The best example of a woman imitator of such work is baronne d'Aulnoy, who published her work in 1698.

All these stories were in fact derivatives of the traditional fairy tales and thus played the role of pretext. The writers of the literary fairy tales had the art (because of their high literacy rate) to develop and rearrange the story in a way that suited perfectly according to the current time. This is one of the main reasons why these stories became so popular in every household.

The statement that literary fairy tales were just derivatives of the traditional fairy tales, was later on dismissed when the fairy tale scholars of today, including Marina Warner, Lewis Seifert and Jack Zipes, started to claim the history of French fairy tales (Contes de Fees) by reading through the original published text of the 17th and 18th century. Not only this, they also read the diaries, correspondence and critical work related to these fairy tales. Therefore, we find out that the fairy tale movement started in 1670, of which Charles Perrault became a part. This movement became very popular in a short period of time, since its initiation by a group of "scandalous women" of the upper class. We find out according to critical work and other writings that Madame d'Aulnoy, in contrast to the aforementioned citation, was not influenced by Perrault, in fact she pre-dated him. She became well-known throughout the city because of the stories that she used to tell in her salon called "rue Saint-benoit," that was started in 1685. She started writing down these stories that she used to tell people and they were first…

Sources Used in Document:


Adam, Antoine. Histoire de la litterature francaise au XVIIe siecle. First published 1954-56. 3 vols. Paris: Albin Michel, 1997. Print.

Ashley, Maurice P. Louis XIV And The Greatness Of France. 1965.

Backer, Dorothy. Precious Women: A Feminist Phenomenon in the Age of Louis XIV. New York:

Basic Books, 1974.

Cite This Thesis:

"Dis-Missal Of The Great French Fairy Tale" (2012, November 12) Retrieved March 30, 2020, from

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