Preserving the Spell: Fairy Tales and the Future of Storytelling

Kent 107

According to the Brothers Grimm, the seventeenth-century Italian book titled The Tale of Tales by Giovan Battista Basile was the first and most important collection of oral fairy tales. This book contains the first versions of famous tales such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. The Grimms believed that "The Tale of Tales," written in the Neapolitan dialect, echoed the original myths of the Italian people who, according to the Grimms, were closer to ancient history. Clemens Brentano, another fundamental representative of German Romanticism, held that Basile's book had primarily a literary character and was not just a transcription of oral tales. Both the Grimms and Brentano rewrote some of Basile's most beautiful fairy tales according to their opposite poetic views. This talk examines the adaptations of Brentano and the Grimms and sheds light on why these fundamental tales (e.g., Cinderella) matter today, why their “spell” still seems natural and immutable, and what they may say about the future of storytelling.