Abstract

Against Ruth B. Bottigheimer’s argument that the sixteenth-century Italian author Giovanni Francesco Straparola originated fairy tale in its best-known form, this article maintains that ancient and medieval texts contain earlier literary adaptations of folktales that qualify as fairy tales. Particular attention is paid to similarities between Straparola’s “Il re porco” and the Medieval Latin Asinarius. Such affinities suggest that oral tradition is not as difficult to document before the print era as Bottigheimer asserts. With regard to her theory that Straparola invented the narrative pattern that she calls “rise tales,” this article offers evidence that one such tale may be found as early as the second century CE, in Apuleius’s famous “Cupid and Psyche.” In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries folklorists were deeply concerned with studying the distribution of folktales across space and time; their key preoccupations were questions about origins and about the relationship between orality and literacy. These issues deserve to retain a central place in folklore studies.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-1882
Print ISSN
0021-8715
Pages
pp. 377-397
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-16
Open Access
No
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