Class 1 - History of Fairy Tales

Thoughts on the assigned readings: I have never read to history of fairy tales and it's so intriguing how complex their history's are.

What are fairy tales used for? I thought the New Yorker article summed it up quite nicely: "[Fairy tales]... with their exacting distribution of rewards and punishments, they also increasingly tapped into the human urge to derive morals from stories. For centuries they held a moral anecdote, and based on the time and location, absorbed the tales of the culture and land to be passed on for generations.

A quote that I found really interesting, and it really stuck with me, in Bruno Bethlehem's book, The Uses of Enchantment, "Like great art, fairy tale' deepest meaning will be different for each person, and different for the same person at different moments in life. A child will extract different meaning from the same fairy tale, depending on his interests and needs of the moment."

I feel like this is very powerful and this, in my eyes, is what makes fairy tales powerful. This is the reason why fairy tales live on throughout our lives, why we carry them with us, and pass them on.  They have such wisdom that we once didn't see.

As mentioned later in the chapter, fairy tales are often very simple, where all the unnecessary detail is left out, yet their didactic meaning is so impactful that there can be many layers to learning.

When looking at the note above, it's interesting because I feel that Tarot reading and astrological chart have the same affect on adults. I wonder if in this class we will be comparing fairy tales to astrology as this is something I'm very interested in diving deeper into.


Another note that I found interesting in the book written by Jack Zipes called Why Fairy Tales Stick, he talks about how the women's role in story telling changes over the centuries. In the Middle Ages, fairy tales, once respected and cherished, were "gradually associated with untruths or silly women's tales" and "believers began 'feminizing' the tradition of wonder and fairy tales and thereby dismissing it as not relevant to the 'real world'..." Not until the seventeenth century were there much mention of women writers, but at this time in France there women that were changing the preseption of the female role in storytelling.