- Féeries: Études sur le conte merveilleux XVIIe–XIXe siècle. Vol. 7, Le Conte et la Fable ed. by Aurelia, Jean-Paul Gaillard Sermain, and: Féeries: Études sur le conte merveilleux XVIIe–XIXe siècle. Vol. 8, Le merveilleux français à travers les siècles, les langues, les continents ed. by Jean Mainil
In pursuing research on the literary and social history of folktales and fairy tales, the annual journal Féeries offers a solid theoretical and methodological framework that envisages fairy tales in the process of their diffusion but also as part of particular mental frameworks and as agents in social realities. This approach bypasses questions of comparison and intertextuality in order to explore the ideological and symbolic connotations of the marvelous as a mode of thinking, remembering, and acting.
Entering its seventh issue, Féeries brings together experts in the field of fairy-tale studies under the direction of Aurélia Gaillard and Jean-Paul Sermain to address the theme “Le Conte et la Fable.” Corresponding to the varied usage and terminology for fable in Greek antiquity (ainos, logos, mythos, apologus), the French fable of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries also knew diverse transformations and hermeneutic dispositions in relation to particular historical and aesthetic contexts. Its intertwining with the fairy tale is one of the most decisive moments for the evolution of both genres as narrative formations but also for the development of a whole culture.
The contributions to Volume 7 are framed by two essays by Jean-Paul Sermain. The opening essay, “Fables, contes, nouvelles: Liaisons poétiques,” refers to the affinities and differences among the three genres and their depictions since the early modern period, with examples ranging from Boccaccio and Bandello to the Romantics. In the closing essay, “Ce que les contes doivent aux fées: Liaisons anthropologiques,” Sermain delineates the anthropological parameters of the fairy tale of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In her contribution, Ruth B. Bottigheimer analyzes rich literary material to argue that the medieval tale and the modern fairy tale, even if they share certain common motifs, differ in their narrative motivations; modern fairy tales are perceived as “rise fairy tales,” emerging in Italy with Straparola’s Piacevoli Notti. This essay is followed by two contributions by Patrick Dandrey and Federico Corradi dealing with the emblematic figure of La Fontaine and his double preoccupation as fabulist and storyteller. [End Page 163]
Catherine Velay-Vallantin’s “Charles Perrault, la conteuse et la fabuliste: ‘l’image dans le tapis’” discusses the frontispiece of Perrault’s Contes (1697) as representing one scene of oral narration in relation to the frontispiece in his translation of Faërne’s Fables (1699), in which a storyteller is also represented. Her analysis is an excellent exemplification of the historicity of the two genres, forging a synthetic view of the different groups involved in their appropriation (Perrault’s brothers, the first French Academicians, the Parisian printers and booksellers, the fabulists close to Versailles). Velay-Vallantin also paves the way for research on the complex reception of popular tradition that arose at the end of the seventeenth century as a “popular” orality claimed by the erudite storytellers. She concludes by addressing the enigmatic gesture of the woman storyteller depicted on the frontispiece of Perrault’s Contes.
The next four articles, written by Julie Boch, Jean-Noël Pascal, Raymonde Robert, and Jean-François Perrin, refer to the ways in which the fairy tale and the fable, and consequently imagination, memory, and morality, are conceived in the literary production of specific writers of different eras. Breaking new ground on the underlying significance of the tale’s motifs into the twenty-first century in his essay “‘Rédifier’ les contes de Grimm: Chants populaires de Philippe Beck...