The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales

The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales

by Jack Zipes

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In over 1,000 entries, this acclaimed Companion covers all aspects of the Western fairy tale tradition, from medieval to modern, under the guidance of Professor Jack Zipes. It provides an authoritative reference source for this complex and captivating genre, exploring the tales themselves, the writers who wrote and reworked them, and the artists who illustrated


In over 1,000 entries, this acclaimed Companion covers all aspects of the Western fairy tale tradition, from medieval to modern, under the guidance of Professor Jack Zipes. It provides an authoritative reference source for this complex and captivating genre, exploring the tales themselves, the writers who wrote and reworked them, and the artists who illustrated them. It also covers numerous related topics such as the fairy tale and film, television, art, opera, ballet, the oral tradition, music, advertising, cartoons, fantasy literature, feminism, and stamps.

First published in 2000, 130 new entries have been added to account for recent developments in the field, including J. K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins, and new articles on topics such as cognitive criticism and fairy tales, digital fairy tales, fairy tale blogs and websites, and pornography and fairy tales. The remaining entries have been revised and updated in consultation with expert contributors.

This second edition contains beautifully designed feature articles highlighting countries with a strong fairy tale tradition, covering: Britain and Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, North America and Canada, Portugal, Scandinavian countries, Slavic and Baltic countries, and Spain. It also includes an informative and engaging introduction by the editor, which sets the subject in its historical and literary context. A detailed and updated bibliography provides information about background literature and further reading material. In addition, the A to Z entries are accompanied by over 60 beautiful and carefully selected black and white illustrations.

Already renowned in its field, the second edition of this unique work is an essential companion for anyone interested in fairy tales in literature, film, and art; and for anyone who values the tradition of storytelling.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This thorough and scholarly edition edited by comparative literature expert Zipes contains 130 new entries, bringing the listings up to more than 1,000. Additions include some surprises, such as contemporary authors Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling, whose works use several fairy-tale tropes, such as magic, fantasy, and allegory. Among the other updates are fairy-tale blogs and websites and a brief entry on the genre and pornography. Aside from historical authors, illustrators, characters, themes, and terms relating to the stories, the book also mentions more modern children's authors (for instance, Paul Galdone, Maurice Sendak, Jerry Pinkney, and Trina Schart Hyman) who have contributed to the evergreen genre. Black-and-white illustrations enhance the thick volume, as do several lengthy essays on storytelling traditions around the world. The contributors' list and bibliography are nothing short of impressive. VERDICT Complete but a bit esoteric, this selection is recommended for research or college libraries only.—Sharon Verbeten, Brown Cty. Lib., Green Bay, WI
Packed with fascinating information, assembled with intelligence and care, this "Companion" is as helpful, reliable and full of fresh surprises as a fairy godmother...It seems right that a book about fairy tales should be illustrated, and the full- and half-page illustrations in The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales well demonstrate the richness of the visual tradition.
The Christian Science Monitor
Andrew Wawn
...[Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales] should solve next Christmas's gift problems in many households.
The Times Literary Supplement

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Chapter One



Aarne-Thompson index, shorthand for The Types of the Folktale, the classification system for international folk tales developed and first published in 1910 by the Finnish folklorist Antti Aarne under the title Verzeichnis der Märchentypen (Index of Types of Folktale). Aarne's system, designed initially to organize and index the Scandinavian archival collections, was translated and enlarged by the American folklorist Stith Thompson in 1928, and revised again in 1961. Although its scope is limited primarily to European and European-derived tales known to have existed in oral tradition at the time of publication, the principal value of the index lies in the creation of a single classification system by which culturally distinct variants are grouped together according to a common reference number.

    Together with Thompson's six-volume Motif-Index of Folk Literature with which it is cross-indexed, The Types of the Folktale constitutes the most important reference work and research tool for comparative folk-tale analysis. These two indexes, designed to aid the researcher in identifying tale types, isolating their motifs and locating cultural variants, are most closely associated with the historical-geographic (or Finnish) method, which sought to reconstruct the hypothetical original form (Urform) as well as the history of a given tale by plotting the distribution of different versions over time and space. Although the historical-geographic method is no longer fashionable,the reference works produced by that direction of folk-narrative research remain one of the most enduring contributions to the study of folk tales.

    In The Types of the Folktale, tales are organized according to type (defined by Thompson as `a traditional tale that has an independent existence') and assigned a title and number and/or letter. For example, the Brother *Grimms' tale of *`Sleeping Beauty' appears in the Aarne—Thompson index as 410, `Sleeping Beauty'. Scholars citing either the Grimm or non-Grimm version could then refer to it by its tale-type number, as AT (or AaTh) 410. Each entry begins with a description of the principal traits of the tale in abbreviated narrative form, followed by a list of individual motifs in existent variants, and often concludes with bibliographic information. The bibliography contains information on the pattern of distribution by country and the number of known versions at the time of compilation, as well as the print or archival sources of the variants.

    The tales are divided into the following categories: Animal Tales (Types 1-299), Ordinary Folk Tales (Types 300-1199), Jokes and Anecdotes (Types 1200-1999), Formula Tales (Types 2000-2399), and Unclassified Tales (Types 2400-2499). Most folk tales or fairy tales are classified under `ordinary tales', which comprise roughly half of the catalogue.


Baughman, Ernest W., Type and Motif-Index of the Folktales of England and America (1966).
Georges, Robert, `The Universality of the Tale-Type as Concept and Construct', Western Folklore 42 (1983).
Thompson, Stith, The Folktale (1946).
----- Motif-Index of Folk Literature (1955).

Ada, Alma Flor (1938- ), Cuban-American writer and professor, who has been a pioneer in the development of multicultural and bilingual books for children and has written the important study A Magical Encounter: Spanish-Language Children's Literature in the Classroom (1990). Ada writes her own texts in Spanish and English as well as translating and adapting folk tales that emphasize the themes of cooperation, trust, and liberty. Among her important books in Spanish and English are El enanito de la bared (The Wall's Dwarf, 1974), La gallinata costurera (The Little Hen Who Enjoyed Sewing, 1974), La gallinata roja (The Little Red Hen, 1989), La tataranieta de Cucarachita Martina (The Great-Great Granddaughter of the Little Cockroach Martina, 1993), and Mediopollito (Half-Chicken, 1995). Dear Peter Rabbit (1994), a unique montage of fairy tales and fables in the form of letters, won the Parents' Choice Honor. The Malachite Palace (1998), one of Ada's original fairy tales, recounts the adventures of a sequestered princess who is not allowed to play with the common people until she is liberated by a tiny bird.


Adam, Adolphe (1803-56), French composer, who worked in the tradition of the Opéra Comique. Adam's musical compositions were influenced by François Auber and François-Adrien Boieldieu. Among the 53 works that he produced, the most significant are the operas Le Postillon de Longjumeau (The Coachman of Longjumeau, 1836), and Si j'étais roi (If I Were King, 1852) and, above all, the ballet Giselle ou les Willis (1841), based on a story by Heinrich *Heine that was adapted by Théophile *Gautier and Vernoy de Saint-Georges for the ballet. This fairy tale focuses on Albrecht, Duke of Schlesia, who falls in love with the peasant girl Giselle. When Giselle learns from Albrecht's companion that the duke is already engaged, she dances with him in great desperation and kills herself with his dagger. She is then received by Myrtha, the queen of the Willis, who commands her to return to her grave where Albrecht is mourning her death. There she is to entice him into a dance of death. However, just as he collapses, the end of the bewitching hour arrives, and Myrtha loses her power over him. Giselle must return to her grave, and Albrecht is left standing in despair. In another one of his plays, La Poupée de Nuremberg (The Doll of Nuremberg, 1852), Adam incorporated the motif of the mechanical doll that E. T. A. *Hoffmann had created in his story `The Sandman'. In this comedy of mistaken identities, a life-sized doll is supposed to be turned into an ideal wife through magic. However, the inventor's wife assumes the identity of the doll, tricks her husband, and is insolent towards him. In his anger he stabs the doll, but fortunately the inventor's wife does not die because she manages to switch identities with the lifeless doll before the inventor commits his `crime'.


Adams, Richard (George) (1920- ), British novelist and writer of children's fantasy literature. His distinctive trademark is the use of animal protagonists: rabbits search for the promised land in Watershed Down (1972), a bear is deified in Shardik (1972), and dogs escape from an experimental lab in The Plague Dogs (1977). Adams's choice of subject-matter not only demonstrates a sensitivity toward animals; it also reflects his interest in the animal tale, which suggests we should read his stories as allegories for the human condition.

    In his well-known novel Watership Down, Adams uses the basic plot of a group of rabbits setting out to found a new warren as a pretext to explore various socio-political utopias (or dystopias). The central exodus or quest narrative is punctuated with tales about El-ahrairah (`the Prince with a Thousand Enemies'), a trickster-type folkloric hero whose exploits provide the group with exempla and mythological explanations for their rabbit-universe. Given the importance of these tales to the main narrative, it comes as no surprise that Adams later published versions of them, along with other stories from the novel, in Tales from Watership Down (1996).


Meyer, Charles A. (ed.), `Richard Adams' Watership Down', spec. issue of Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, 6.1 (1993).

Petzold, Dieter, `Fantasy out of Myth and Fable: Animal Stories in Rudyard Kipling and Richard Adams', Children's Literature Association Quarterly, 12.1 (spring 1987).

Addy, Sidney (1848-1933), English lawyer and folklorist, who published two important pioneer works, Folk Tales and Superstitions (1895) and Household Tales with Other Traditional Remains, Collected in the Counties of York, Lincoln, Derby and Nottingham (1895). In both books he attempted to record oral tales exactly as he heard them, often in dialect, and with information about the teller.


Adventures of Pinocchio, see PINOCCHIO, ADVENTURES OF.

ADVERTISING AND FAIRY TALES. Verbal folklore genres such as proverbs, riddles, folk songs, nursery rhymes, legends, and of course fairy tales have long been used as attention-getting devices in advertising. While proverbs, for example, are particularly suitable to create slogans, fairy tales meet the needs of advertising agents since they create a world of desire, hope, and perfection. Anybody wishing to sell a product would want to describe it in such a way that purchasers or consumers would thank their good fortune if they could obtain it. Fairy tales have as their basis this wish for happiness and bliss, where all wishes come true, and where everybody lives happily ever after. By using traditional fairy-tale motifs and by adapting them to the modern world of consumerism and the instantaneous gratification syndrome, advertising agencies create the perfect medium with the irresistible message.

    When advertising started to gain ground at the beginning of the 20th century, fairy-tale titles, certain poetic verses, and short allusions to well-known fairy tales began to be used as manipulative bait. The reader would be reminded of the happy and satisfied fairy-tale ending, thus deciding subconsciously that the advertised product must be the perfect choice. As time went on, ever more glamorous illustrations were added to the verbal messages, combining the advertisement for a necklace or a piece of clothing, for example, with a beautiful woman standing in front of the mirror asking that eternal question, `Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?' And who would not want to be the most beautiful, especially since, in the modern world of advertising and consumerism, everything is possible. All that it takes is fairy-tale formulas and allusions together with manipulative texts and glittering illustrations. Naturally sophisticated television advertisements can create a state of enchantment which barely leaves the viewer any choice but to accept the message as the ultimate wish fulfilment.

    Since advertisers want to communicate effectively with their readers and television audiences, they will choose motifs only from those fairy tales that are especially well known. Many times an advertisement is simply based on the title of a fairy tale. Thus a beauty shop was named *`Rapunzel' and on a flyer used the headline `Rapunzel's Creative Hair Styling Salon'. A German champagne producer simply named its product `Rotkäppchen' (`Little Red Cap'), and every bottle since the early part of this century has had a red cap on the top of the bottle. The name and this symbol bring with them the positive feeling of *Little Red Riding Hood going off to her grandmother's house with a good bottle of expensive alcohol. What is right for a fairy tale ought to be very suitable indeed for the realistic world as well. Little wonder that the Martini vermouth producers used the slogan `Fairy tales can come true' to sell their perfect drink.

    Cosmetic firms especially make use of such fairy-tale allusions. Revlon came up with the slogan *`Cinderella—nails and the Magic Wand', thereby claiming that its cosmetics will make the difference between homeliness and beauty. Of course, this beautiful person would need a gorgeous automobile, and so the Fisher Body company used the slogan `A Coach for Cinderella' in the 1930s to help advertise such a car for General Motors. But for this the consumer would need money, and as luck would have it the Bank of America, according to an advertisement from the year 1947, is the `Godmother to a Million Cinderellas'. There is one wish fulfilment after another, and such slogans with their coercive texts and inviting pictures make all of this look as easy as the waving of a magic wand—until the reality check sets in, of course.

    The Dilder carpets company tried as well to create a special mood for its magnificent products. The headline of its advertisement very effectively coupled the perfect world of the fairy tale with monetary reality: `A Fairy Tale for Real People with Real People Budgets'. There is no talk of a particular fairy tale here. Rather the words `fairy tale' stand for something perfect and beautiful. A German carpet company had similar ideas, but its slogan read more precisely: 'A carpet as beautiful as *Snow White'. A bit strange perhaps, to compare a carpet with a beauty like Snow White, but the idea is to conjure up the feeling of perfection. Of course, the picture of this advertisement also shows Snow White sitting on the carpet and the seven dwarfs turning somersaults from sheer joy and excitement about this incredible carpet. Perfectly fitting seems to be the slogan which the Royal Doulton Dolls company added to a picture of one of its magnificent creations: `Royal Doulton presents the fairest of them all'. A mere allusion to the well-known verse from the 'Snow White' fairy tale, but enough to convey the claim that Doulton dolls are absolutely beautiful products.

    The Waterford Crystal company quite frequently employs fairy-tale references for its marvellous glass creations. Nobody will have any difficulty recognizing the fairy tale behind the slogan `One of her glass slippers fell off'. And how appropriately worded was the statement `Oh, what lovely ears you have' next to the picture of a number of pitchers whose handles brought about this variation of Little Red Riding Hood's questions to her grandmother. Such wordplay always presupposes that the reader and consumer will also juxtapose the traditional tale with it, thus creating a world where magic and reality can meet in harmony at least once in a while. One of the most elaborate uses of fairy tales for advertising purposes was AT&T's special issue (spring 1995) of Time entitled `Welcome to Cyberspace'. In numerous two-page spreads AT&T illustrates the fairy-tale-like inventions of modern electronic technology. Fairy-tale motifs of `The *Frog King', `Little Red Riding Hood'. *`Hansel and Gretel', `Cinderella' and *`Rumpelstiltskin' appear. The fairy-tale heroes and heroines are, of course, spruced up to fit the age of cyberspace. The same is true for their modern fairy-tale-like messages, as for example: `Rumpelstiltskin is my name. Spinning straw into gold was my game. But now I'm a new man and I have new cravings. I spin phone calls into savings.' But it does not really matter what new products and wishes will come about, the traditional fairy tales as expressions of wish fulfilment will be suitable to advertising in ever new forms and disguises.


Dégh, Linda, and Vázsonyi, Andrew, `Magic for Sale: Märchen and Legend in TV Advertising', Fabula, 20 (1979).
Dundes, Alan, `Advertising and Folklore', New York Folklore Quarterly, 19 (1963).
Herles, Helmut, `Sprichwort und Märchenmotiv in der Werbung', Zeitschrift für Volkskunde, 62 (1966).
Horn, Katalin, `Grimmsche Märchen als Quellen für Metaphern und Vergleiche in der Sprache der Werbung, des Journalismus und der Literatur', Muttersprache, 91 (1981).
Mieder, Wolfgang, Tradition and Innovation in Folk Literature (1987).
Röhrich, Lutz, `Folklore and Advertising', in Venetia J. Newall (ed.), Folklore Studies in the Twentieth Century (1978).

Afanasyev, Aleksandr (1826-71), Russian folklorist. Born in a provincial Russian town, he studied law at Moscow University, worked in state archives, and published numerous essays on Russian history and culture. From the 1850s his attention shifted towards Slavic mythology, and he started collecting and publishing Russian folklore. From 1855 to 1863 he published his world-famous collection Russian Fairy Tales, in eight volumes, along with Russian Folk Legends in 1859 and Russian Fairy Tales for Children in 1870. Besides fairy tales, Afanasyev collected folk songs, proverbs, and parables. His major scholarly work, The Poetic Views of Slavic Peoples on Nature, was published in three volumes in 1865-9.

    The significance of Afanasyev's contribution to the study of folklore is primarily his systematic collection, description, and classification of material. His Russian Fairy Tales, including 600 texts and variants, are still today the most comprehensive work on East Slavic folk tales, widely acknowledged internationally. At the time of its publication, it was superior to any similar West European collection. Although he lacked predecessors in Russia, Afanasyev was familiar with the work of European collectors, such as the Brothers *Grimm, *Asbjørnsen and Moe, J. M. Thiele, the Czech Bozena Nemcova, the Serbian Vuk Karadzic, and took into consideration their positive results as well as evident shortcomings. His collection carries references to a number of European counterparts.

    Afanasyev was very careful with variants and tried to preserve the peculiarities of oral speech and dialects and their specific grammatical and syntactic structures, avoiding variants supplied by servants and educated people. He was very critical of his colleague Ivan Khudyakov and his collection Russian Fairy Tales (1860), which retold folk tales in a bookish language and made no effort to disentangle the many obscure places in his oral sources. Afanasyev took the Grimms' *Kinder- und Hausmärchen as a model, the Russian translation of which he reviewed in 1864. As a comparatist, he was especially interested in parallels between Slavic and Germanic folk tales.

    Afanasyev himself collected folk tales from different sources, starting with his home town and province, but he made use too of the scarce previous publications of the archives of the Russian Geographic Society, founded in 1845, as well as amateur collectors all over Russia. He also made some careful extractions from old chapbooks. His goal was to find genuine texts, free from contaminations and fusions. Unlike the Grimm Brothers, he rejected retelling, polishing, or literary revisions. Thus, unlike the Grimms' collection, Afanasyev's was a purely scholarly publication, not addressed to a wide readership. However, further editions, selections, and adaptations have indeed reached a mass audience of adults as well as children.

    After the publication of the first volume of Russian Fairy Tales, Afanasyev received a great deal of support from collectors and folktale lovers. One of his most significant informants was Vladimir Dal, the famous author of The Dictionary of the Living Russian Language (1863-6), who supplied Afanasyev with over a thousand transcripts of folk tales, of which Afanasyev used about 150. Texts in Afanasyev's collection originate from over 30 Russian provinces, three Ukrainian, and one Belorussian. He also proposed scholarly strategies for collecting, transcribing, editing, and publishing oral sources, as well as criteria for using reliable informants. He was criticized for his views, especially since the Russian literary establishment doubted that illiterate Russian peasants were capable of telling coherent stories. Many critics also questioned the artistic merits of Russian folk tales as compared to European. Still, the collection was widely appreciated by scholars in Russia and abroad.

    Afanasyev not only collected, but studied his material. The second edition of Russian Fairy Tales, which appeared posthumously in 1873, was annotated and classified according to recent scholarly theories. As his foremost objective, Afanasyev envisioned the study of the mythological origins of folklore, consistent with the position of the so-called mythological school of comparative folklore studies (the Grimm Brothers, in Russia Fyodor Buslayev). He was fascinated by the scope of material which this approach offered, and in his own work he managed to widen the perspective still further, incorporating folklore genres such as the heroic epic, ritual folklore, etc.

    The classification of fairy tales, which Afanasyev compiled for his collection (animal tales, magic tales, humorous tales, satirical tales, anecdotes, etc.) is, with some minor amendments, still used by folklorists. A complete collection of Russian Fairy Tales was reprinted six times, most recently in 1984, and many volumes of selections have been published. It has been translated into all major languages. The standard edition in English was published in New York in 1945, translated by Norbert Guterman and with an introduction by Roman Jakobson.

    In his edition for young readers, Russian Fairy Tales for Children, Afanasyev included 29 animal tales, 16 magic tales, and 16 humorous tales from his collection, carefully adapting the language, substituting standard Russian for dialectisms, and excluding everything not suitable for children. However, even this edition was criticized because many fairy tales had trickster heroes and depicted the triumph of cunning. The collection has been reprinted over 25 times and illustrated by the most prominent Russian and Soviet artists.

    Both Afanasyev's scholarly studies and his collections were subjected to severe censorship in Tsarist Russia. Russian Folk Legends, although passed by censors, was banned soon after it appeared; the church viewed the collection as blasphemous and obscene. The volume was reprinted by the Free Russian Publishers in London. In fact, these stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, the prophets, Jesus and his disciples contain a bizarre mixture of Christian and pagan views as well as clear social satire. The ban complicated the publication of the last two volumes of Russian Fairy Tales in which Afanasyev was obliged to delete the most offensive passages, according to censors' orders. The deleted material, together with other tales marked by Afanasyev as `unprintable', was published anonymously in Switzerland, presumably in 1872, under the title Russian Forbidden Tales (the Russian word `zavetny' can also mean `sacred', which stresses the much-discussed links between the sacral and the obscene in archaic thought). It contained 77 tales and about 20 variants, mostly humorous, but also some magic and animal tales. They were omitted from the main collection not only because of their open obscenity and eroticism, but also because of their anticlerical attitude: many portrayed priests and monks in an unfavourable light. The collection was published in French as Contes secrets russes in 1912.


Bremond, Claude, and Verrier, Jean, `Afanassiev et Propp', Littérature, 45 (February 1982).
Pomeranceva, Erna, `A. N. Afanas'ev und die Brüder Grimm', Deutsches Jahrbuch für Volkskunde, 11 (1963).

Aiken, Joan (1924-), Anglo-American author. The daughter of the American poet Conrad Aiken, she was born and educated in England, where she now lives. She has published over 60 children's books, as well as many adult novels. Her titles for children include ghost stories, historical fiction, plays, and picture books. She has also written several collections of brilliantly original fairy tales. They include All You've Ever Wanted (1953), More Than You Bargained For (1955), A Necklace of Raindrops (1968), A Small Pinch of Weather (1969), A Harp of Fishbones (1972), Not What You Expected (1974), Up the Chimney Down (1984), The Last Slice of Rainbow (1985), and Past Eight o'clock (1987).

    As a teller of fairy stories, Joan Aiken is the natural heir of Edith *Nesbit. Her vivid and amazingly inventive tales, like Nesbit's, are usually set in contemporary England, and much of their surprise and humour comes from the juxtaposition of traditional magic and modern technology. (In `Up the Chimney Down' the wicked witch even owns a computer.)

    Like Nesbit's, Aiken's tales sometimes have an undertone of social satire. In `The Brat Who Knew Too Much', for instance, an 8-year-old girl with magical encyclopaedic knowledge disrupts first a pretentious panel of experts on the BBC and eventually a large number of international organizations.

    Joan Aiken's tales feature not only standard fairy-story personages and props (kings and queens, witches and wizards, magic objects and spells), but characters and events from modern folklore, including the Tooth Fairy and Good King Wenceslas. Her take on all of them is original and surprising. King Wenceslas's charity, for instance, is misplaced, and in the end it is the `poor man gathering winter fuel' who offers a good meal to the king.

    Many of Aiken's tales centre on the experiences of Mark and Harriet Armitage, who live in a rural English village where the existence of magic is taken for granted. Mark and Harriet go to a school run by a witch, have a temporary governess who is a ghost, and keep a pet unicorn. In one of her best stories, `A Small Pinch of Weather', the family is visited both by a pompous ex-colonial great-uncle and the Furies, three dog-faced ladies in black who eat pins and cause everyone who comes to the house to reveal their past crimes: `the window-cleaner ... was now on his knees in the flowerbed, confessing to anyone who would listen that he had pinched a diamond brooch.... the man who came to mend the fridge ... seemed frightfully upset about something he had done to a person called Elsie'.

    Most of Joan Aiken's tales are full of fun and surprise and end happily, but some look at the world from a more contemplative and poetic perspective. A few even end with sadness and loss, like `The Serial Garden', where lovers are separated forever when a cut-out paper panorama from the back of cereal boxes is destroyed. Clearly, Aiken not only has tremendous inventive powers, but unusual emotional range.


Apseloff, Marilyn, `Joan Aiken: Literary Dramatist', Children's Literature Association Quarterly, 9.3 (fall 1984).

Ainsworth, Ruth (1908- ), English writer of books for children, who has published numerous retellings of the classical fairy tales. Her more original work consists of the fairy-tale novels The Talking Rock (1979) and The Mysterious Baba and her Magic Caravan: Two Stories (1980). In The Talking Rock a young boy named Jakes makes a figure in the sand who magically comes to life. This Sand Boy joins with Jakes and a mermaid to overcome the sea monster Glumper, who is oppressing all the sea creatures. Ainsworth's two stories in The Mysterious Baba and her Magic Caravan take place in the Left-Over Land, a place where unsold toys make their home and where a homeless Russian doll named Baba creates excitement for the rest of the dolls. Ainsworth has also published The Ruth Ainsworth Book (1970) and Mermaids' Tales (1980), which include fairytale narratives.


Aladdin, protagonist of a tale named `Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp', which is included in most standard editions of The *Arabian Nights (also known as The Thousand and One Nights). The tale takes place in the mountains of China where the boy Aladdin lives with his poor widowed mother. Aladdin is sought out by a Moroccan sorcerer, for whom he is to recover an oil lamp from a subterranean treasure grove. When he refuses to deliver the lamp while still inside the cave, the evil sorcerer deserts him. With the aid of a magic ring, Aladdin is rescued. By chance he discovers that the lamp commands a powerful demon, becomes rich, and eventually marries the princess. As the sorcerer learns about Aladdin's luck, he approaches the princess in disguise, tricks her into giving him the lamp, and has the demon kidnap her. Aladdin manages to find the sorcerer's hiding place, kills him, and recovers his wife.

    The tale did not form an integral part of The Arabian Nights prior to their Western reception. First published in 1712, the tale originates from Antoine *Galland's autobiographically influenced reworking of an alleged oral performance in 1709 by the Christian Syrian narrator Hanna Diyab, who also contributed the tale of *`Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves' to Galland's Arabian Nights. Arabic manuscripts discovered later proved to be forgeries. Soon after its original publication, the tale became extremely popular in chapbooks, literary adaptations, children's literature, stage performances (above all, British Christmas pantomime), and movies. In 1992 it was further popularized by a *Disney animated film (and a number of sequels), which modified Aladdin into a cunning trickster character. By the end of the 20th century, it has come to represent the standard Western notion of the classical oriental fairy tale. Indeed, the image of the omnipotent demon hidden inside a humble lamp has become proverbial in everyday language, literature, politics, science, and commerce.


Gerhardt, Mia I., The Art of Story-Telling (1963).
Irwin, Robert, The Arabian Nights (1994).
Mahdi, Muhsin, The Thousand and One A Nights (Alf Layla wa-Layla) from the Earliest Known Sources, iii (1994).
Ranke, Kurt et al. (eds.), `Alad(d)in', Enzyklopädie des Märchens, 1 (1977).

Alarcón, Pedro Antonio de (1833-91), Spanish novelist and supporter of romanticism. Despite the fact that all his literary productions were written while realism and naturalism were en vogue, Alarcón published three volumes of short stories with fantastic features. The third one, Narraciones inverosímiles (Unbelievable Narrations, 1882), contains two stories influenced by E. A. Poe's bloodcurdling narrations: `La mujer alta. Cuento de miedo' (`The Tall Woman. A Scary Tale', 1881), and `El año en Spitzberg' (`The Year Spent in Spitzberg', 1852). There is also one story based on a popular tale, `El amigo de la muerte. Cuento fantástico' (`Death's friend. A Fantastic Tale', 1852), in which a man befriended by Death becomes a renowned doctor capable of predicting the exact time of his patients' demise.


Alas, Leopoldo (`Clarin') (1852-1901), Spanish writer, especially known for his novels and short stories which are said to constitute the classic examples of their genre in 19th-century Spanish literature. His more than 100 tales vary considerably in length and show great thematic richness. `Mi entierro' (`My burial', 1886), `Cuento futuro' (`Future Tale', 1893), `Tirso de Molina' (`Tirso de Molina', 1901), and `La mosca sabia' (`The Learned Fly', 1916), figure prominently among his fantastic tales. Despite the fact that he was a major defender of the folk tale as the source of the novel, he did not cultivate that genre himself.


Alcott, Louisa May (1832-88), American writer of fantasy tales, best known for her classic novel Little Women (1868). Alcott, whose father was friends with Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, was strongly influenced by transcendentalism, particularly the idea, which permeates all her tales, that in order to change society as a whole one must begin by reforming the individual, in her Flower Fables (1854), initially written for Emerson's daughter Ellen, Alcott's fairy-flower protagonists learn that love can transform a cold heart (`The Frost-King; or, the Power of Love') and that selfishness leads to unhappiness (`Lily Bell and Thistledown'). In her second collection, The Rose Family (1864), three fairy sisters go to the good fairy Star to overcome their idleness, wilfulness, and vanity. Among other stories with fairy-tale motifs, Alcott wrote `Fairy Pinafores', in which Cinderella's fairy godmother, looking for `some other clever bit of work to do', gathers 100 homeless children to make magic pinafores (published in Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag:' Cupid and Chow-Chow, 1873); and `The Skipping Shoes', in which Alcott rewrites `The *Red Shoes' and has Kitty, who refuses to do what people ask, wear shoes she does not like, the magical powers of which force her to do as she is told (published in Lulu's Library: A Christmas Dream, 1886). Other collections of Alcott's fairy and fantasy stories include Morning Glories, and Other Stories (1867), and Lulu's Library: The Frost King (1887).


Alexander, Lloyd (1924- ), major American author of fairy-tale novels. He studied at the Sorbonne and translated Sartre and Éluard. His best-known work, the so-called Prydain Chronicles, consists of five novels, The Book of Three (1964), The Black Cauldron (1965), The Castle of Llyr (1966), Taran Wanderer (1967), and The High King (1968), which received the Newbery Medal. The cycle is based on the Welsh collection Mabinogion. Alexander's initial intention was simply to retell the stories, but instead he created his own fairy-tale world, inhabited by wizards and dwarfs, the three wise witches Orddu, Orwen, and Ordoch, the invincible Cauldron-born, and the Huntsmen. This world is threatened by Arawn, the Death-Lord of Annuvin, assisted by the treacherous enchantress Achren. A variety of magical objects from Celtic folklore are featured, such as a cauldron, a magic sword, and a book of spells.

    The central character of the cycle, Taran, is a typical folk-tale `common hero' of unknown origin. He becomes an Assistant Pig-Keeper, and the disappearance of the sacred animal in his charge, the traditional Welsh folktale character Hen-Wen, draws Taran into a struggle between good and evil. After many trials, Taran finds his true identity and wins the love of the brave and extravagant princess Eilonwy. When all the old magic forces, the Sons and Daughters of Don, leave Prydain, Taran is left to be the High King, endowed with great power, but also bearing responsibility for the country which has been delivered from evil.

    For Alexander, the fairy-tale form is a means to describe reality, and many real events, characters, and settings have been woven into Prydain stories. He makes use of European folklore heritage, overtly taking *Tolkien and C. S. *Lewis as his models. The Prydain Chronicles are also characterized by their humour and irony, uncustomary in the heroic fairy tale. Comical figures, like the ever-hungry Gurgi, and the boastful bragging bard Fflewddur Fflam with his magic harp, give the novels an unforgettable charm. Alexander has also published a collection of fairy tales and two fairy-tale picture books connected with the Prydain novels. In 1985, the Prydain cycle was made into a major *Disney movie entitled `The Black Cauldron'.

    In The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha (1978) Alexander sends his hero to an alternative world which recalls the universe of The *Arabian Nights, where he becomes involved in a struggle against a bloodthirsty tyrant. Unlike Taran, Lukas does not win a princess and a kingdom, but returns to his own world, presumably as a spiritually better person.

    Two other sequel fairy tales, the Westmark Trilogy (1981-3) and the so-called Vesper Books (1986-90), although they lack magic, follow closely the traditional narrative patterns of fairy tales.

    In his most recent novels Alexander explores a number of ancient mythologies, always moulding them into stories of quest and maturation: Chinese in The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen (1991), Greek in The Arcadians (1995), and Indian in The Iron Ring (1997). A significant feature of these, as well as Alexander's earlier novels, is a presence of strong and independent young women, evolving from the fairy-tale tradition of the active heroine.


Kuznets, Lois, `"High Fantasy" in America', The Lion and the Unicom, 9 (1985).
May, Jill P., Lloyd Alexander (1991).
Tunnell, Michael O., The Prydain Companion: A Reference Guide to Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles (1989).

Ali Baba, protagonist of the tale `Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves', included in most standard editions of The *Arabian Nights (also known as The Thousand and One Nights). The poor woodcutter Ali Baba one day observes a band of 40 robbers who access their treasure grove by pronouncing a magic formula (`Open, Sesame') that makes the mountain split. After the robbers have left, Ali Baba enters the cave and takes away some bags of money. At home he secretly counts the money using a measure he borrowed from his rich brother. However, the latter's wife has prepared the measure so that a coin is left sticking to it when returned. In that way, the rich brother finds out about the treasure, has Ali Baba disclose the working mechanism of the magic opening, and enters the cave himself. Wishing to leave, he has forgotten the magic formula and is trapped. The returning robbers discover and subsequently kill him. Ali Baba later recovers his brother's body, carries him home, and has him buried. Meanwhile, the robbers have located Ali Baba's home and try to murder him. Their leader disguises himself as a travelling merchant and smuggles the robbers into the house concealed in oil casks. Ali Baba's wily slave girl Marjana (Morgiana) finds out about their plans and kills the hidden robbers by pouring hot oil on their heads. Their leader manages to escape and later returns in a different disguise. Since he refuses to salt his meal (which would compel him to form a friendship with his host), Marjana discloses his identity and stabs him.

    First published in 1717 in volume xi of Antoine *Galland's Les Mille et une nuits, the tale does not form an integral part of The Arabian Nights as part of an authentic Arabic tradition. Rather, it constitutes the inspired reworking of an oral performance in 1709 by the Christian Syrian narrator Hanna Diyab, who also contributed the tale of Aladdin to Galland's Arabian Nights. The only extant Arabic manuscript of the tale of Ali Baba has been proved to constitute a forgery by the orientalist Jean Varsy. From the second half of the 18th century, the tale was published in numerous popular prints of the chapbook variety. Besides adaptations and allusions in literature, it inspired a number of operas, toy theatre plays, and stage performances (such as British Christmas pantomime), films, cartoons, and numerous versions in popular storytelling.


Gerhardt, Mia I., The Art of Story-Telling (1963).
Irwin, Robert. The Arabian Nights (1994).
Mahdi, Muhsin. The Thousand and One Nights (Alf Layla wa-Layla) from the Earliest Known Sources, iii (1994).
Ranke, Kurt et al. (eds.). `Ali Baba und die vierzig Räuber', Enzyklopädie des Märchens. (1977).

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, film versions. The cinema has generally been keener on the title than it has on the original storyline from The *Arabian Nights. In a wartime adaptation directed by Arthur Lubin (USA, 1944), Ali is a young prince rather than a woodcutter, and the thieves are swashbuckling adventurers rather than brutal murderers. Ali joins their band as a way of hiding from the invading Mongols who have killed his father, the caliph. The story is primarily a peg on which to hang an escapist Technicolor extravaganza; at the same time it nods to the contemporary situation by suggesting that Ali Baba and the thieves offer a parallel to underground resistance movements. and that the cruel, tyrannical Mongols are like Nazis.

    Eleven years later (France, 1955) Jacques Becker directed a version, shot partly on location in Morocco, which retains more of the situations from the original text, but plays them for laughs. Conceived primarily as a vehicle for the leading comic actor Fernandel, this adaptation makes Ali a crafty underling, servant of a brutal master who orders Ali to go and buy him a wife. Ali chooses a beautiful dancer, Morgiane, but falls in love with her himself, and then spends a lot of time helping her evade her eager husband's sexual claims. When Ali finds out the thieves' cave and its secret password he takes some of the treasure and is able to buy Morgiane from his master, but before they can live happily together there are forty angry thieves to contend with.


Alice in Wonderland (1865), classic Victorian fairy tale by Lewis *Carroll (Latinized pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, 1832-98). First published as Alice's Adventures Under Ground (1863), it was inspired by a boating party with Alice Liddell and her sisters, daughters of an Oxford don. The fictional Alice is a 7-year-old who falls down a rabbit hole, changes from microscopic to telescopic proportions, and encounters a hookah-smoking Caterpillar, Mock Turtle, and Cheshire Cat. This early version was expanded to include the Mad Tea Party, the Pig and Pepper episode with the Ugly Duchess, Alice's trial by the Queen of Hearts, and parodies such as `Speak Roughly to Your Little Boy' and `Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat'. The revised text also included illustrations by John *Tenniel, the political cartoonist for Punch who also worked on the sequel. Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871) has Alice participating in a Rabelaisian living chess game with Red and White Queens and a White Knight. On her way to becoming a Queen, she meets talking flowers, a battling Lion and Unicorn, Humpty Dumpty, and the twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee, who recite `You Are Old, Father William' and `The Walrus and the Carpenter'. `Jabberwocky', perhaps the most celebrated English nonsense poem, and `Upon the Lonely Moor', a parody of Wordsworth, are also included.

    The fact that nonsense and literary parody coexist in these novels underscores the dual nature of their child/adult readership—and their author. Often described as a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality, C. L. Dodgson was a celebrated Victorian photographer, ordained deacon, and Oxford don who delivered dry mathematics lectures and published logic texts. As the pseudonymous Lewis Carroll, however, he wrote whimsical fiction that challenged the moralizing children's literature of the period. His Alice is in the tradition of the abandoned child heroine, but the Wonderland she explores borders on Victorian Gothic horror fiction. Carroll's originality was to combine the two genres. He tempered his allegorical portrait of socio-economic upheaval with humorous doses of thought-provoking paradox. This fresh didacticism made his `love-gift of a fairy-tale' so popular that his books were second only to the Bible in bourgeois Victorian nurseries.

    Alice's commercial value rose as she was reproduced on everything from teapots to chess sets. Marketing reached new heights with playing cards, puzzles, songs, plays, and broadcasts once the copyright expired in 1907. Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the Ugly Duchess had long entered national folklore by 1928, when Sotheby's auctioned the original manuscript for the unheard-of sum off £15,400; it was later sold to the Parke-Bernet Galleries for $50,000. In 1948, to show its appreciation of Britain's war efforts, the United States donated this national treasure to the British Museum—where it was received by no less than the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    What in the Alice books could possibly have commanded such respect? For many, Alice is the epitome of the brave Victorian innocent in a confusing magical land. Translated into languages ranging from Swahili to Esperanto, her fairy tales are surpassed only by Shakespeare and the Bible for expressions that have entered the English language (such as `mad as a hatter'). Given this lofty company, it is little wonder that those who wax nostalgic for these children's books find it a sin to dissect them. Psychoanalysts, for example, puncture the Alice books' myth of childhood innocence. Focusing on the author's sexuality, they document his fantasies about becoming a little girl and cite scores of letters to `little-girlfriends' whom he adored kissing, sometimes photographing or drawing them in the nude. They also speculate on his attraction and rumoured marriage proposal to young Alice Liddell, and find phallic symbolism in the fictional Alice's snake-like neck and bodily distortions from large to small. Freudians feel that this may also represent a return to the womb; others posit a hallucinogenic drug experience. Literary historians, on the other hand, note that Gulliver and Micromégas underwent similar changes, and place the Alice books in the satiric tradition of Swift and Voltaire. Socio-political criticism of a fragmented bourgeois society is also noted by historians: they find parallels with the dizzying pace at which the early Industrial Revolution reacted to technological, demographic, and political changes as it embraced industrialization, laissez-faire capitalism, and a free-market economy. Still others analyse Alice's dream and parallel universe that violate spatio-temporal laws. For them, Alice exists in an eternal moment out of time, a Heideggerian space between consciousness and reality where she poses existential questions of identity and confronts problems of maturation. Moreover, she must function in a metaphorical world where everyone is `quite mad' and relationships are paradoxical. Indeed, linguistic and physical realities rarely coincide in Wonderland, and semioticians annotate disjunctions between sign and signifier whenever smiles represent Cheshire cats or boys turn into pigs. In addition to Alice's numerous recta-referential allusions to her own fairy tale, they examine Carroll's linguistic experimentation and portmanteau words with reference to Edward Lear (a contemporary) and James Joyce (who was reared on the Alice books). Carroll's marvellous images are balanced by Tenniel's illustrations, which caricatured real-life politicians like Disraeli (the Unicorn) and Gladstone (the Lion). It is in this combination of text and image, of fantasy and reality, of the abstract and the concrete that Alice's dual readership finds meaning and enjoyment.

    Alice's enduring influence is attested by some 200 pastiches and parodies, some reproduced in Carolyn Sigler's Alternative Alices: Visions and Revisions of Lewis Carroll's Alice Books (1997). Many of these texts were produced by Victorian women writers: just as the Alice books comment on Victorian girlhood, so these imitations construct women's cultural authority. Other texts were blatantly didactic, still others were humorously political. All were subversive. Their popularity waned during the 1920s when Alice left popular culture for high culture and was appropriated by scholars and theorists. Film-makers adopted her as well, and her representations ranging from *Disney animation (1951) to pornographic musicals (1976) underscore her mythic capacity to adapt to genres for both children and adults. Today's Alice, a bit wiser than Carroll's, is a postmodern empowered heroine in control of Wonderlands of her own (feminist) design.


Bloom, Harold (ed.), Lewis Carroll (1987).
Gardner, Martin, The Annotated Alice (1960).
Heath, Peter, The Philosopher's Alice (1974).
Rackin, Donald, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass: Nonsense, Sense, and Meaning (1991).
Sigler, Carolyn (ed.), Alternative Alices: Visions and Revisions of Lewis Carroll's Alice Books (1997).

Meet the Author

Jack Zipes is Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota. He has authored and edited numerous books and articles, most recently The Irresistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural & Social History of a Genre (2012), The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films (2011), and Grimm Legacies: The Magic Power of the Grimms' Folk and Fairy Tales (2015). He has also translated and edited, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition (2014), and he is the editor of the 4-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature (OUP, 2006).

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