(11/5/02 11:07:00 am)
| oral origins|
Does anyone have a rough idea of when fairy tales were first told orally? I believe the first written tale was around the middle of the ninth-century A.D., but I have no idea of when the tales were first orally told. Thanks for any help~
(11/5/02 1:52:36 pm)
| Ancient world|
I'm reading a book at the moment by Graham Anderson, "Fairy Tales in the Ancient World", that makes an interesting case that elements and story lines of many of the fairy tales we know from the French salon writers and Grimm collections are readily found in far more ancient tales from Greece, Rome and other ancient cultures. What he finds suggests that the "finished" versions of the tales are accretions from various sources and taking shape like stones moving from stream to stream. That puts their origins in a sense in antiquity--because he's looking at written pieces, too, of tales that were likely already in process in 500 BC. You might want to look at the book.
(11/5/02 2:32:51 pm)
Ninth century seems awfully late to me. Think of some of the clear folktales written down in the Old and New Testaments (flood story, Garden of Eden story, Jonah in the whale's belly story, pillar of salt story, corn king story); the Greek (Home) and Roman magic tales (Ovid et al); not to mention a heiroglyph Cinderella tale; an early dynasty Chinese Cinderella.
It goes on and on.
(11/7/02 4:07:01 pm)
| Orality and Literacy|
Seconding the _Fairy tales in the Ancient World_ nomination...
Oral culture --- folklore -- has been around ever since homo sapiens developed a larynx, enabling them to speak to each other. Ninth century CE is far, far too late. Storytelling is likely the oldest human art form, and fantastic narratives that were understood to be fictional (as the most commonly accepted definition of "fairy tale" among scholars has it) were certainly part of the stock-in-trade. As Jane said, think of Homer and Ovid and the biblical authors.
Also, it's important to remember that even with the advent of literacy, oral culture does not simply disappear -- oral and written culture exist side by side, and trade ideas, themes, plots back and forth.
(11/8/02 1:19:21 pm)
thank you for all of your comments~the book is especially helpful. I guess I should have been more specific with my question though~of course it's obvious that storytelling has been going on ever since humans were able to communicate, but my focus was more towards versions of popular fairy tales~more along the lines of cupid and psyche (which i discovered to be around 100-200 a.d~most likely the first written "fairy tale" according to "my" definition of a fairy tale) transforming into beauty and the beast than bible tales as a form of folktale. That was my mistake in not being specific though~again i appreciate the help.