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The Teller's Tale

Lives of the Classic Fairy Tale Writers

Sophie Raynard

Publication Year: 2012

Intriguing, updated portraits of classic fairy tale authors. This book offers new, often unexpected, but always intriguing portraits of the writers of classic fairy tales. For years these authors, who wrote from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, have been either little known or known through skewed, frequently sentimentalized biographical information. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were cast as exemplars of national virtues; Hans Christian Andersen’s life became—with his participation—a fairy tale in itself. Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, the prim governess who wrote moral tales for girls, had a more colorful past than her readers would have imagined, and few people knew that nineteen-year-old Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy conspired to kill her much-older husband. Important figures about whom little is known, such as Giovan Francesco Straparola and Giambattista Basile, are rendered more completely than ever before. Uncovering what was obscured for years and with newly discovered evidence, contributors to this fascinating and much-needed volume provide a historical context for Europe’s fairy tales.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Introduction

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pp. 1-3

This book project was born from a strongly felt need to revise standard biographies of classic fairy-tale authors and editors and to present them together in a single volume. Documentary evidence, sometimes newly discovered, sometimes newly recovered from nineteenth-century suppressions...

I. Emergence. Straparola: Sixteenth-Century Italy / Basile: Seventeenth-Century Italy

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pp. 5-

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Europe’s First Fairy Tales

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pp. 7-11

Before Giovan Francesco Straparola published the two volumes of Le Piace voli Notti (Pleasant Nights, sometimes translated as Facetious Nights) in 1551 and 1553, there was no evidence of fairy tales as we know them in the modern world. That is not to say that tales with magic did not...

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Giovan Francesco Straparola: 1485?–1556?

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pp. 13-24

Documentation for the life of Giovan Francesco Straparola is sparse. Two books were published under his name during his lifetime: Opera nova (New Works) of 1508, reprinted and slightly expanded in 1515, and the book by which the modern world knows him, Le piacevoli notti (Pleasant Nights). Dated...

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Giambattista Basile: 1575?–1632

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pp. 25-37

Giambattista Basile led an active and itinerant life as a man of letters, soldier, and administrator, a life that was in many ways typical for a seventeenth-century courtier. But Basile’s literary persona was two sided. On the one hand, there is the large corpus of Italian works written in the...

II. Elaboration. Perrault and the Conteuses Précieuses: Seventeenth-Century France

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pp. 39-

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Sophistication and Modernization of the Fairy Tale: 1690–1709

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pp. 41-46

The 1690s are known in literature as the dazzling first period of the fairy-tale vogue. There have been, however, two distinct histories of this period. For nearly two centuries—from the early 1800s until the late 1900s, Charles Perrault’s Histoires, ou Contes du temps passé (Histories...

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Charles Perrault: 1628–1703

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pp. 47-59

Charles Perrault was the son of a lawyer in the Parliament of Paris, Pierre Perrault († 1652), and of Paquette Leclerc († 1657). He and his twin brother, François, were born on 12 January 1628 in Paris and were baptized the day after their birth in the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont...

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Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d’Aulnoy: 1650/51?–1705

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pp. 61-68

Very little concrete information exists about Marie-Catherine, born Le Jumel de Barneville, and consequently hypotheses join the few existing facts about the full and novelistic life she is said to have led. She was born in 1650 or 1651 into a solidly aristocratic Norman family. Her...

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Catherine Bernard: 1663?–1712

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pp. 69-73

Catherine Bernard was born in Rouen, probably on 24 August 1663, in all likelihood to a wealthy merchant family. In spite of several biographers’ claims, it is doubtful that she was related to the illustrious Corneille brothers, Pierre and Thomas. Rouen’s lively intellectual atmosphere...

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Marie-Jeanne Lhéritier de Villandon: 1664–1734

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pp. 75-80

Marie-Jeanne Lhéritier de Villandon was born in Paris in 1664, the daughter of Nicholas Lhéritier, one of Louis XIV’s official historians, and Françoise Le Clerc, who was either the sister or the niece of Charles Perrault’s mother. From all appearances, both Lhéritier’s immediate and...

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Henriette-Julie de Castelnau, Countess de Murat: 1668?–1716

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pp. 81-87

Henriette-Julie de Castelnau was born probably in 1668 and died in 1716 in Maine. Both her grandfathers were marshals of France and belonged to the high aristocracy. Her father, Michel de Castelnau, was from Bigorre, and her mother, Louise-Marie Foucault, was from...

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Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force: 1650?–1724

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pp. 89-93

Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force was born, probably in 1650, to an illustrious and highly placed aristocratic family that included writers and generals. On her mother’s side she was related to the conteuse Henriette-Julie de Murat. As Protestants, La Force’s family had been...

III. Exoticism. Galland: Eighteenth-Century France

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pp. 95-

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Antoine Galland: 1646–1715

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pp. 97-106

Antoine Galland’s literary career, without being unique, constitutes a spectacular exception among the professional writers the emergence of whom Alain Viala analyzed in his classic work. First, as a man from a modest background, Galland had to pursue literature primarily as a...

IV. Didacticism. Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont: Eighteenth-Century France

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pp. 107-

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Jeanne-Marie Leprince (or Le Prince) de Beaumont: 1711–1780?

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pp. 109-118

Astonishingly modern, while at the same time faithful to an enduring tradition, Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s extraordinary work and personality were long unappreciated. Biographical fictions, to whose spread the author herself at times contributed, insured that readers were...

V. Traditionalization. Naubert: Late Eighteenth-Century and Early Nineteenth-Century Germany, The Grimms: Nineteenth-Century Germany, Bechstein: Nineteenth-Century Germany

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pp. 119-

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The Legacy of the Eighteenth-Century and Nineteenth-Century German Female Storytellers

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pp. 121-125

The late eighteenth century was a turbulent time in the history of German life and letters. As the Enlightenment gave way to the romantic movement and the Napoleonic wars ravaged Europe, literary tastes and social structures shifted. In this era literacy rates in the general population...

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Benedikte Naubert

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pp. 127-134

Christiana Benedikte Hebenstreit Naubert was born on 13 September 1752 in Leipzig, the sixth child of a well-situated, academic family. She enjoyed an extraordinarily broad education for a woman of her times: through the efforts of her older brothers and her own autodidactic...

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Jacob Grimm: 1785–1863, Wilhelm Grimm: 1786–1859

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pp. 135-151

Wilhelm Grimm was, perhaps, more accurate than he could have imagined when he wrote in 1812 that it was “probably just the right time to collect these tales.” He believed that oral tradition was waning, but he also believed that the times were right for readers to embrace a...

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Ludwig Bechstein

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pp. 153-161

Ludwig Bechstein (1801–60), fathered by Louis Hubert Dupontreau, a French émigré from Fontenay-le-Comte in the French Vendée, was born on 24 November 1801 in Weimar to Johanna Karoline Dorothea Bechstein (1775–1847), the daughter of a minor official in Altenburg...

VI. Sentimentalization: Andersen: Nineteenth-Century Denmark

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pp. 163-

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Hans Christian Andersen

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pp. 165-175

Born in poverty in 1805, Hans Christian Andersen became world famous in his lifetime, with his works, especially the fairy tales, translated into 125 languages. He realized the modern myth of upward mobility and paraded it far and wide. He received numerous medals and honors and...

List of Contributors

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pp. 177-179

Index

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pp. 181-183

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781438443560
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438443553

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2012