Fairy Tales, Ancient Histories, and Eternal Appeal

There have been a couple of articles recently on the ancient origins of fairy tales – ‘Fairytales much older than previously thought, says researchers’ on The Guardian and ‘Fairy tale origins thousands of years old, researchers say’ on the BBC website. These articles are based on recent research and published by the universities of Durham and Lisbon. By uncovering the ancient roots of these tales, the researchers have suggested that there are certain themes that recur throughout the history of story telling. Fairy tales are now considered to be children’s literature and yet they contain dark elements about morality, animality and transformation.

I also read an interesting blog post which included some excerpts from Margaret Atwood’s account of her relationship with literature in The Pleasure of Reading (2015, ed. by Antonia Fraser). She acknowledges the important role that fairy tales played – especially those with more gory elements. Atwood’s comments express the importance of literature aimed at children and young adults – ideas which Sam also blogged about recently.

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1 Response to Fairy Tales, Ancient Histories, and Eternal Appeal

  1. Lucy Northenra says:

    I heard something about this on radio 4 it is something that many people who study myth believe i.e. there are universal stories that recur in different periods and cultures. I have done some work on the Brothers’ Grimm recently and it seems more and more likely that they constructed their tales as German in origin and from the lips of peasants when in fact they were from wider more ancient literary sources……

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