July 8, 2009

The Modern Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault

Mini Bio of Charles Perrault (1628-1703)

Even though the Brothers Grimm (published 1812), Hans Christian Andersen (published 1835) and Disney are probably the most recognizable names in fairy tales, Charles Perrault was the first to modernize the popular folk tales of his time and use them for his own agenda and beliefs.

French born Perrault was the youngest of four children. He was a poet and a writer who believed that literature needed to be modernized. According to The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales, “Perrault took the side of modernism and believed that France and Christianity could move forward only if they incorporated pagan beliefs and folklore and developed a culture of enlightenment.”

Using humor, adding morals and keeping the original superstitions attached to popular folk tales, Perrault wrote Histoires ou contes du temps passe’ (Stories or Tales of Time Past) in 1697. This collection included Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and The Fairies. He is said to be responsible for the most recognizable factors of these stories like the red hood, the pumpkin and Cinderella’s glass slippers.

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