Charles Perrault’s fairy tales

Charles Perrault is a name that is familiar to the young and old all over the world.  Who doesn’t know his Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty?

Little Red Riding Hood

Perrault was born on 12 January 1628 to a wealthy Parisian family. After studying law, he pursued a career in government service. When the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres –  an institution devoted to humanities –  was founded in 1663, Charles Perrault was appointed its secretary for life.

Cinderella Sleeping Beauty

His literary productions over the years were few, but included the famous Parallèle des Anciens et des Modernes, where Perrault tried to prove the superiority of the literature of his century over the literature of Antiquity. International recognition came to Perrault when he was almost 70, after publishing Histoires ou Contes du Temps passé. Les Contes de ma Mère l’Oye, or Tales of Mother Goose. It laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, and became an inseparable part of our childhood.

3 thoughts on “Charles Perrault’s fairy tales

  1. These illustrations are like the first fables…aesop
    The childrens book illustrator that rivals aesop is La Fontaine…
    Circa 1860 , portraits of early american children…these are
    in a vein that is classical to childrens book illustrating
    similar to valezquez…A favorite is the Russian Fairy Tale,
    Vasily and Vasilissa, or Baba Yaga the witch who lives in
    a house on chicken legs in the forest and likes to eat children.
    Patricial Polacco wrote of Baba Yaga babushka…she like s
    children and gives to them, does not eat them. Thankfully.

  2. Fairy tales carry fragments of the history of very real people. Some of these stories, especially those which mention spindles, spinning, or weaving, can be traced back to the Magdalenian people of 12,500 BC during the ice age. Oral tradition and symbols were used to record the lives of people before literary records; archetypal images were used to represent larger groups. Archetypes are things which all people everywhere have seen – like the sun, or mother and child. Heroes, damsels in distress, villains, all are archetypes caught in situations which are also common to humanity. This is why fairy tale stories are still powerful and compelling. If you would like more info on decoding symbols, myths, fairy tales etc, visit Once Upon a Time: the World of Symbols blog.

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