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Wayne State University Press
Giambattista Basile's The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones

Giambattista Basile's The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones


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The Tale of Tales, made up of forty-nine fairy tales within a fiftieth frame story, contains the earliest versions of celebrated stories like Rapunzel, All-Fur, Hansel and Gretel, The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. The tales are bawdy and irreverent but also tender and whimsical, acute in psychological characterization and encyclopedic in description. They are also evocative of marvelous worlds of fairy-tale unreality as well as of the everyday rituals of life in seventeenth-century Naples. Yet because the original is written in the nonstandard Neopolitan dialect of Italian—and was last translated fully into English in 1932—this important piece of Baroque literature has long been inaccessible to both the general public and most fairy-tale scholars.

Giambattista Basile’s "The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones" is a modern translation that preserves the distinctive character of Basile’s original. Working directly from the original Neopolitan version, translator Nancy L. Canepa takes pains to maintain the idiosyncratic tone of The Tale of Tales as well as the work’s unpredictable structure. This edition keeps the repetition, experimental syntax, and inventive metaphors of the original version intact, bringing Basile’s words directly to twenty-first-century readers for the first time. This volume is also fully annotated, so as to elucidate any unfamiliar cultural references alongside the text. Giambattista Basile’s "The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones" is also lushly illustrated and includes a foreword, an introduction, an illustrator’s note, and a complete bibliography.

The publication of The Tale of Tales marked not only a culmination of the interest in the popular culture and folk traditions of the Renaissance period but also the beginning of the era of the artful and sophisticated "authored" fairy tale that inspired and influenced later writers like Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. Giambattista Basile’s "The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones" offers an excellent point of departure for reflection about what constitutes Italian culture, as well as for discussion of the relevance that forms of early modern culture like fairy tales still hold for us today. This volume is vital reading for fairy-tale scholars and anyone interested in cultural history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814328668
Publisher: Wayne State University Press
Publication date: 05/28/2007
Series: Series in Fairy-Tale Studies
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 496
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Nancy L. Canepa is associate professor of French and Italian at Dartmouth College.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

Foreword: The Rise of the Unknown Giambattista Basile Jack Zipes xiii

Illustrator's Note Carmelo Lettere xvii

Acknowledgments xxix

Introduction Nancy Canepa 1

I The First Day

Introduction to The Tale of Tales 35

1 The Tale of the Ogre 43

2 The Myrtle 52

3 Peruonto 61

4 Vardieilo 70

5 The Flea 76

6 The Cinderella Cat 83

7 The Merchant 90

8 Goat-Face 101

9 The Enchanted Doe 108

10 The Old Woman Who Was Skinned 115

The Crucible: Eclogue 126

II The Second Day

Introduction to the Second Day 143

1 Petrosinella 147

2 Green Meadow 152

3 Viola 157

4 Cagliuso 163

5 The Serpent 169

6 The She-Bear 177

7 The Dove 184

8 The Little Slave Girl 195

9 The Padlock 199

10 The Buddy 203

The Dye: Eclogue 208

III The Third Day

Introduction to the Third Day 215

1 Cannetella 217

2 Penta with the Chopped-Off Hands 223

3 Face 233

4 Sapia Liccarda 241

5 The Cockroach, the Mouse, and the Cricket 246

6 The Garlic Patch 255

7 Corvetto 261

8 The Ignoramus 267

9 Rosella 273

10 The Three Fairies 280

The Stove: Eclogue 288

IV The Fourth Day

Introduction to the Fourth Day 295

1 The Rooster's Stone 299

2 The Two Brothers 305

3 The Three Animal Kings 314

4 The Seven Little Pork Rinds 320

5 The Dragon 326

6 The Three Crowns 336

7 The Two Little Pizzas 344

8 The Seven Little Doves 350

9 The Crow 361

10 Pride Punished 371

The Hook: Eclogue 377

V The Fifth Day

Introduction to the Fifth Day 385

1 The Goose 389

2 The Months 394

3 Pretty as a Picture 399

4 The Golden Trunk 404

5 Sun, Moon, and Talia 413

6 Sapia 418

7 The Five Sons 422

8 Nennillo and Nennella 427

9 The Three Citrons 433

End of The Tale of Tales 443

Selected Bibliography 447

Index 457

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