Saturday, February 4, 2012

Morsel of the Day: A Definition of the Literary Fairy Tale

In his first short monograph, [Jens] Tismar set down the principles for a definition of the literary fairy tale (das Kunstmarchen) as genre: (1) it distinguishes itself from the oral folk tale (das Volksmarchen) in so far as it is written by a single identifiable author; (2) it is thus synthetic, artificial, and elaborate in comparison to the indigenous formation of the folk tale that emanates from communities and tends to be simple and anonymous; (the differences between the literary fairy tale and the oral folk tale do not imply that one genre is better than the other; (in fact, the literary fairy tale is not an independent genre but can only be understood and defined by its relationship to the oral tales as well as to the legend, novella, novel, and other literary fairy tales that it uses, adapts, and remodels during the narrative conception of the author.

by Jack Zipes, "Introduction: Towards the Definition of the Literary Fairy Tale" in The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales

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