The Little Boy Who Knew Everything - a Grim Fairy Tale for Adults

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As Taylor Torsello demonstrates , fairy tale writers usually organize information within texts so that "structure [ In other words, writers write their stories starting from children's knowledge sets and not from their own. Some other formal features include the absence of detailed descriptions. Both people and objects are rather sketchily outlined, usually through a single attribute, to achieve semantic clarity and uniqueness and avoid psychological complications Luthi ; Lavinio This feature has again been inherited from the oral folk tale where action prevailed over description.

The result is that in fairy tales characters may undergo moral development, but they do not change physically, nor do they grow old. Both the temporal and spatial dimensions are either obliterated or exaggerated: sometimes the tale world is not identified and events take place in an undetermined nowhere at an unspecified time.

Which Fairy Tales?

Other times the author provides the narrative with some spatial or temporal information, which is nonetheless indeterminate: it may be the case of hyperbolic distances "he walked for hundreds of miles" and extended time e. There is nonetheless no gap between story and plot Propp , because oral narratives followed an ideal linear axis of development. Writing and modern literature in general can rely on a physical space, the page, which can be visualized, and can therefore make use of temporal deviations.

Finally, as I have briefly hinted at above, the presence of the narrator is hidden under the mask of third person narration, but his voice is frequently heard as he breaks in and comments on what is happening in the hope of influencing his readers' response. The conative function Jakobson was much more developed in the oral folk tale because the telling of the tale was a collective action in which the storyteller led the narration and his audience actively contributed by posing questions, suggesting changes, and making comments Zipes Another interesting feature is connected to the use of different tenses.

As Weinrich clearly points out, verbal tenses function as indices that guide addresses and help them to discover basic information such as linguistic attitude, perspective and focus. Tenses may be either "commentative" or "narrative": in the first case a commentative attitude is associated to a deep involvement of the speaker, and consequently of his addressees, in the world he describes.

In English the present perfect is an example of commentative verb. Narrative verbs e. Perspective is concerned with the temporal sequence in the narrative, so tenses are classified into two categories, the retrospective, which point to the past, and the perspective, which point to the future. Focus is instead the dimension that regulates the perceptual evidence of information through verbs. There are in fact verbs that describe background actions cf.

Italian imperfetto and verbs that outline more salient events. After all the defectiveness of the English verbal paradigm turns out to be positive, for the massive use of past tense in fairy tales apart from a few occurrences of "commentative" verbs, when the author crops up makes the students' task very much easier.

Grimms Fairy Tales

As for the content, it must be observed that it is not often extraordinary in itself: ordinary objects coexist with supernatural ones. When everyday objects are inserted in a fantastic world they lose their real nature to fit the dynamics of the narrative. To use Eco's terminology , they are "narcotized" in that they lose any social or psychological value to become instrumental in smoothing the proceeding of the action. So content is rarely fairy-tale like in itself, but it becomes so when it is framed within the fairy tale architecture.

Audience and Reception The audience usually does not object to the presence of supernatural elements or phenomena, but accept them readily because they recognize them as typical traits of that genre. As Levorato claims, people have a schematic knowledge about narratives that enables them to decide what is a narrative text and what is not. This mental model is abstract and predictive, and concerns the ways in which sequences of actions and events are narrated.

It is thanks to this that readers make predictions on the type of information they will find. This schematic pattern is rather narrow in children, but becomes more flexible and widens to include less prototypical members of the same narrative category for more sophisticated readers. Reception is very important for narrative sub-genres and distinguishes fairy tales from other narrative types such as myth, science fiction and so on.

When the reader notices something odd in the narrative world he has two options: either he finds a convincing explanation, or he has to postulate new laws which may justify them. As often happens with classifications, the categories are not enough to cover all the possible texts: Todorov added some borderline sub-genres, such as "le fantastique-merveilleux" where a tale that begins as a fantastic story ends up with a supernatural explanation.

When on the contrary the supernatural elements are not questioned, either by the characters or by the readers, the genre is "le merveilleux pur", which encompasses many different narrative types, among which fairy tales.

Grimm brothers’ fairytales have blood and horror restored in new translation | Books | The Guardian

Despite the results of the application of this taxonomy, which might be disappointing, this classifying task is useful because it familiarises students with genres, so that "they learn to make distinctions, think about subtle categories, and apply abstract thinking in imaginative and concrete ways" Zipes 17 Concluding Remarks The task of establishing what distinguishes one sub-genre from another is indeed difficult and I myself experienced it when I read my students' fairy tales before their examination.

Some of them are clearly meant to be traditional fairy tales and even share some plot elements with traditional ones. Some others also belong to the genre, but they indulge in the characterisation of both people and places, and are therefore more suitable to an older audience or readership. Students were justified in adding complexity to their plots because even some literary tales indulge in detailed descriptions and impart moral lessons to readers. Besides, a certain tendency towards deeper psychological characterization can easily be detected in modern tales e.

Calvino's tales. Some of the stories hardly fit the paradigm of fairy tales at all and cross the frontier into the domain of short stories. I had in fact warned my students that I would accept any story provided they were ready to defend their choices.

The disturbing truth behind those fairy tales you loved as a child

They had the same freedom in the writing of their commentaries. During the seminar they had done different types of analyses, ranging from linguistic descriptions to more general comments about content and genre. For their final paper they had full freedom and were allowed to choose how to organise their comments.

Some of them concentrated on the linguistic aspects, some on the plot, while others tried to reconcile both aspects and showed how they wanted to communicate meaning through specific constructions. The final results were very pleasing: the fairy-tales were all rich in inventiveness, imagination and more or less overt messages to the audience. The students demonstrated to be capable of mastering the genre and their competence in the written language was quite good - although they varied from individual to individual-.

Linguistic knowledge was however sufficient to communicate well, whereas deficiencies mostly occurred in the handling of the narrative material especially in managing information and in sequencing episodes. On the whole it can be said that students not only have learned how to reduce a text to its macro-structure, but are now also familiar with the most typical linguistic and rhetorical strategies of the genre they have concentrated on. The parallel structure of text-analysis and production was essential to stimulate a better pragmatic awareness in the students.

At the end of the year, I was glad to verify that it had been possible to account for the specific rhetorical functions and speech acts that characterize different text-types by closely analyzing texts. This investigation allows to identify the parameters which guide textual organization and the recurrent features of different genres.

All these patterns are not only factors of increased "readability" in that they make both reading and comprehension easier, but become cardinal in the act of text production. References AA. Balboni, P.

Benison, J. Pavesi and G. Bernini eds. Biber, D. Carter, R. McRae eds. Dijk, T.

The Story of Jack and The Beanstalk - Fairy Tales for Kids

Fabb, N. Genette, G. Jakobson, R.

Why Fairy Tales?

Klammer, T. Compton, , "Some recent contributions to tagmemic analysis of discourse", in R.

She wakes up and they get married, blah blah. When Prince Charming meets his beloved in the glass coffin, he decides to, um, keep the body. The stepmother turns up at the wedding of Snow White and Prince Charming, where they force her to dance in a pair of red-hot iron shoes taken straight from burning coals, until she falls down dead. The two lovers reunite, kill the sea witch and Triton loses his stiff upper lip and transforms his daughter into a human.

Despite dancing in sheer, excruciating agony for her prince, he decides to marry someone else. So in the end, the mermaid dies and dissolves into foam. MORE: 10 Christmas songs that are actually really messed up.


  • Grimm brothers’ fairytales have blood and horror restored in new translation.
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  • The challenge of retelling Grimms' fairy tales | Books | The Guardian!

Once upon a time, a young woman decides to dress up as a man and take the place of her frail father to fight in the army. I now want to be with my father. Started so strong I thought I'd burn through these but things fell off a bit a third into it, or maybe I just got too used to the transparent language, the patient anonymous tone, the ever-present series of threes, the same ol' motifs. Courage, bravery, goodness, cleverness are rewarded with gold, princesses, and living happily ever after.

Greed and evil are often punished by decapitation! Loved it when ultraviolent and weird, or when birds and fish talked, but sometimes the words blended and ke Started so strong I thought I'd burn through these but things fell off a bit a third into it, or maybe I just got too used to the transparent language, the patient anonymous tone, the ever-present series of threes, the same ol' motifs. Loved it when ultraviolent and weird, or when birds and fish talked, but sometimes the words blended and kept me out and so I skimmed a few, particularly toward the end.

Pullman's post-story notes for each tale seemed casual sometimes even sort of half-assed but nevertheless mostly adequately informative and insightful. Suggests how much there's to know about the foundational fairy and folk tales of the world.