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Histoires ou Contes du temps passé avec des moralités

By: Charles Perrault

Histoires ou contes du temps passé, avec des moralités or Contes de ma mère l'Oye (Stories or Tales from Past Times, with Morals or Mother Goose Tales) is a collection of literary fairy tales written by Charles Perrault, published in Paris in 1697. The work became popular because it was written at a time when fairy tales were fashionable amongst aristocrats in Parisian literary salons. Perrault wrote the work when he retired from court as secretary to Jean-Baptiste Colbert, minister to Louis XIV of France. Colbert's death may have forced Perrault's retirement, at which point he turned to writing. Scholars have debated as to the origin of his tales and whether they are original literary fairy tales modified from commonly known stories, or based on stories written by earlier medieval writers such as Boccaccio.

The stories assembled in the 1697 edition were "The Sleeping Beauty", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Bluebeard", "The Master Cat, or Puss in Boots", "Diamonds and Toads" (Les Fées), "Cinderella", "Riquet with the Tuft", and "Hop o' My Thumb". Each story ended with a rhymed, well-defined and cynical moral (moralité). The author of the volume was given as "P. Darmancour", hinting at Perrault's 19-year-old son Pierre, who was long time believed to have written the stories. However Zipes claims modern scholarship shows little evidence the son wrote the stories, nor that the volume was the result of a collaboration between father and son. Almost certainly Perrault the elder was the author. It is possible that the son's name, and the dedication to the king's niece Élisabeth Charlotte d'Orléans, was meant as a means to introduce the son to society. The book contains an introductory letter to "Mademoiselle", saying "No one will think it strange that a child should have found pleasure in composing the Tales in this volume, but some will be surprised that he should have presumed to dedicate them to you."

 

The volume achieved considerable success with eight reprints in Perrault's lifetime. With Louis XIV's death at the beginning of the 18th century the lifestyle of the précieuse faded, as did the popularity of the literary salons and the fairy tales at the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment. Perrault's tales, however, continued to be sought after with four editions published in that century.

 

Book Details

Language

English

Original Language

French

Published In

1697

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Charles Perrault was a French author and member of the Académie Française. He laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, with his works derived from earlier folk tale...

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