German Fairy Tales

(3444 words)
  • Ruth B. Bottigheimer (SUNY, Stony Brook)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Conventional wisdom and traditional conviction have long held that German fairy tales emerged from the folk in the deep and unspecified past. Despite the absence of evidence that this was so, the presence of a commonly known body of fairy tales served to define German-speakers as a “Volk” (people). These sentiments were codified by late eighteenth-century literary theorists in the terms in which they understood folk literature (Volkspoesie); were built upon by Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm (1786–1859) Grimm in the early nineteenth century as they theorized about the fairy and folk tales, riddles, and other examples of oral tradition they were gathering; were relied on by later nineteenth-century nationalists in their …

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Bottigheimer, Ruth B.. "German Fairy Tales". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 November 2004
[, accessed 30 September 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. Literary Genres and Modes