Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fairy Tales Go Viral

Looks like Ruth Bottigheimer and her book, Fairy Tales: A New History, really are causing a stir in the world of folklore studies and beyond. Fresh off the recent article in the Chronicle Review, Ruth made it into today's Idea of the Day section over at the New York Times website. The book is also the focus of an article in the Guardian. Both pieces delve further into Ruth's assertion that the commonly held notion of fairy tales being handed down through the oral tradition is false, emphasizing instead the role of print in the journey of "rise" tales, which passed through Europe and eventually landed in the hands of the Brothers Grimm.

The book has also been reviewed favorably by Fabula. Here's a snippet:

Distinguishing fairy tales from folktales and showing the influence of the medieval romance on them, Bottigheimer documents how fairy tales originated as urban writing for urban readers and listeners. Working backward from the Grimms to the earliest known sixteenth-century fairy tales of the Italian Renaissance, Bottigheimer argues for a book-based history of fairy tales. The first new approach to fairy tale history in decades, this book answers questions about where fairy tales came from and how they spread, illuminating a narrative process long veiled by surmise and assumption.