We had fairy tales.
Well, we’ve probably always had them, in both oral and written form. They’re such a part of any culture that it’s hard to track their exact development. And most cultures have variations on the same “themes” or archtypes. In China, for example, the story of “Little Red Riding Hood” is called “Lon po po”, and was actually one of my favorites as a kid. (The illustrations in the copy I had might have had something to do with that. They were awesome.)
A Frenchwoman, Madame d’Aulncy, invented the term “fairy tale” in the 17th century: conte de fee, in French. The stories always contain an element of magic, and they begin with “Once Upon A Time” to invoke a time when magic actually existed in day to day life. It also can explain why we don’t have dragons or local fairies hovering around in the 21st century.
In the West, there are three main sources or schools of fairy tales that we’re familiar with:
- The Brothers Grimm–German
- Charles Perrault–French
- Hans Christian Andersen–Danish
We’ll go through each of these authors, their works and its characteristics, and some of their best-known tales–and how those tales as written are different from the version we think we know.