A Conversation for Fairy Tales

Writer vs Collector

Post 1

Gnomon - time to move on

I know that the Brothers Grimm were collectors of fairy tales. They wrote down stories that they heard from the people. But I thought that Hans Christian Andersen actually composed his fairy tales using original ideas. I always found his stories much sicker and less wholesome than Grimms', despite the haphazard way in which characters were tortured and killed in Grimms' book.

Writer vs Collector

Post 2

Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession

Those who call Andersen's work original are not incorrect, and I think neither am I. Please allow me to explain.

Andersen travelled extensively through Europe, Asia Minor, and Africa. Before he became exceptionally well-versed in fairy tales from numerous cultures, he wrote several books and plays that received a decent but not at all stellar response.

Born to the lower classes himself, Andersen feltcertain kinship with the heros of fairy tales. So he interwove the fabrics of many disparate and half-remembered tales into new stories, and assumed full ownership of the results.

It is certainly true that Andersen added his own character to the stories. His use of common dialogue was considered a break-through by the snotty European critics of the time, and in some cases he added plot elements that had never existed before. In many cases, he adjusted story elements to help them reach his European audience.

However, it is also true that the story elements themselves are perhaps less original that the critics of the day assumed. Some of the most praised elements of his stories can be traced directly to oral traditions in the places Andersen was known to have visited.

It would be difficult to fully understand how much of Andersen's stories were truly his, as most of the fairy tales he used have been lost or modified as the oral tradition continues to lessen worldwide. He did leave three autobiographies and an extensive diary, but I fear I have not had the time to read his personal accounts.

Writer vs Collector

Post 3


I doubt if ANY fairy stories are original, by any author except, perhaps, the first minstrals. It seems to me that fairy stories, like mythology, reflect more a social system of the time and are, in large measure, allegorical - like Swift's 'Llliput'.

Most fairy stories from various nations and cultures have similar themes, as has been pointed out by the editor.

What they do affirm to me - as does mythology - is that human beings are of one basic origin and culture. And I DONT mean apes!

Writer vs Collector

Post 4


There was a theory at one time that all humans sprung from one origin and culture, and that all the folktales spread from that master race, the Aryans.

That theory of the origin of folk tales has since been discarded.

Key: Complain about this post

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more