Fairy tales began to appear in vernacular print during the 16th century, with the appearance of Straparola’s The Pleasant Nights (1550-3), which was modeled after Boccaccio’s Decameron, but included tales of fantasy. If this were an art history book, Zipes might marvel at the unsurprising use of fresco by the Italians. Most of the information that is presented in the term paper is represented (only at greater length): tracing the development of the literary fairy tale from the salons of Enlightenment Paris, to the Brothers Grimm, and to Hans Christian Andersen. Fairy tales are a “utopian counterpoint to everything we are missing in our present day and age”. They are tales we can tell our children because they are the ones who have not lost their sense of wonder.
Most term papers on fairy tales will include the Grimm Brothers. The Grimms set about collecting their tales as a means of culturally uniting Germany. The original tales, as everyone knows, were quite bawdy and unfit for children, as Zipes illustrates, offering both original and edited passages from Children’s and Household Tales (1812-15). Hans Christian Andersen next appears on the scene, writing tales that reflect his frustration with Danish society of the 19th century, a stratified society that never let him forget his humble origins, despite his wealth and success as a writer.