Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Old Tales

Briefly, I wanted to share this news (is it still new if it's from March?) about the discovery of 500 fairy tales collected by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth.  Apparently, they were locked away in a vault and only now removed for publication. 

Sounds like a fairy tale in itself.

I'm a tad bemused they are calling them "new," since they were collected in the 19th century, the same time the Grimm brothers were recording their fairy tales from a circle of friends who heard them from their servants and nurses.

I am pleased that these stories have been preserved and are now being made available to the public.  To my understanding, "traditional" fairy tales like these don't arise spontaneously anymore; except, perhaps, in rural or non-industrialized communities.  Any new fairy tales are penned by single authors.
King Golden Hair, one of the vaulted fairy tales (artist?)
Are traditional-type fairy tales no longer a naturally occurring phenomenon?  If so, this collection of Bavarian tales is treasure indeed.

What do you think?  Is there such thing as a new fairy tale?



  1. If the format is "stories that come from group think and are modified from one teller to the next," maybe... urban legends?

  2. This is an interesting question. I am a fan of T.S. Eliot's ideas on tradition, put forward in his essay, 'Tradition and the Individual Talent'.

    'Tradition is a matter of much wider significance. It cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour. It involves, in the first place, the historical sense...; and the historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence; the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order. This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional.'

    The means of writing and telling fairy tales may have changed dramatically over the years, but if a writer inherits the stories of the past and creates new ones, then I think they can be seen as 'traditional'. Also, there are so many variations of the same tales that have appeared in different times and different cultures that fairy tales seem to have always been an evolving tradition, and this shouldn't mean that today's stories shouldn't be seen as a part of this sprawling web.
    There are only so many story lines in the world, as there are only so many musical notes; we never doubt that new music can always be created, so why should we doubt the possibility of new stories, and shrink away from saying they are 'new'?

  3. Thank you, you have set my mind racing and inspired a blog post of my own!

  4. @ rich layers - I had thought of urban legends. I wonder where scholars place them among the greater genres of folklore, legends, and mythology.

    @ A.L. Loveday - Thank _you_! Mentioning T.S. Eliot is a sure way to get me to sit up and listen. I like his analysis, and I should have read it before when I was writing my thesis, because it fits in perfectly with what David Jones does in _The Anathemata_.

    Thank for reading!


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