Fairy tales for the Yuletide season!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Fairy Tales

This website is devoted to all aspects of Fairy Tales and the translation of Fairy Tales and Saga, primarily from German. The Fairy Tales are grouped around specific themes: December/Christmas Themes, January/Discerning the Future, February/Stories Celebrating Love Won & Love Lost/Valentine's Day. Anyone interested in these stories and especially the translation of such tales is encouraged to add their comments. Please also add comments on stories from other cultural traditions that tie into a specific theme.


The fairy tale .... what is it?
Maerchen or Fairy Tale: a working definitionA fairy tale is a fictitious story, originally conveyed orally to a cohesive social group or community, bound together by language, custom or geography. Often fairy tales describe universal human experiences, core (religious) beliefs or the values of a social community. The problems of every day life are often explored: living within a family structure, finding a mate, securing status or riches, establishing oneself in life, life’s seasons and cycles . Main characteristics include fabulous or fantastic elements, a storyline that is played out independently from any specific time or place, an anti-hero or anti-heroine winning out against all odds (i.e., the youngest, smallest, dumbest, poorest succeeds over the oldest, tallest, smartest or richest). Fairy tale justice means the last shall be first and the first shall be last. As an oral tradition, the fairy tale often uses a narrative template with three-fold repetition. Only in the third segment is the adversary overcome, victory assured, success achieved.Often considered a form of literature suitable for children, fairy tales often contain explicit violence, sex and macabre events and are not always suited for younger readers.The Brother Grimm write in their Preface to the First Volume of fairy tales that “Fairy tales, sagas and history stand together and present us with the fresh and lively spirit of pre-historical times. …The fairy tale is more poetic, the saga is more historical in nature.”The saga is firmly anchored in a specific time, often a specific year, geographic region or city/town/place. Persons are mentioned by name, often a specific historical figure or king is mentioned. The saga often explains strange phenomena, unusual features in the landscape, the origin of an ethnic group or names long since forgotten but which were once of local significance. Sagas describe the memory of an historical event. History is explained by a community remembering its past and offering explanations for local custom and tradition. The saga is a means of connecting current circumstances to precise past reference points. Some of these reference points are authentic, others probably are completely invented.The saga in its purest form celebrates or commemorates a folk memory or tradition and has not been corrupted by current trends, commentaries or promotions.

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