The Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm and their Medieval Background

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Abstract

It has long been accepted that fairy tales somehow trace their roots in pre-modern culture and folklore. But we are rather unclear about what would constitute the historical dimension in those tales. Leaving psychological or gender-oriented methodologies aside, this article takes a fresh look at the fairy tales by the Grimms and examines critically to what extent they contain more or less authentic material connecting them specifically with the Middle Ages and our understanding of that age today. There are many elements in the tales predicated on medieval culture and social-political conditions, such as kingship, castles, princesses and princes, knights, etc. But then there are also many mysterious and magical creatures and objects that have appealed to audiences young and old, whether they are direct borrowings from the pre-modern world or not. Some of those, along with many motifs, were obviously directly borrowed from medieval literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-175
Number of pages11
JournalGerman Quarterly
Volume94
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

Keywords

  • kings and knights
  • Middle Ages
  • pre-modern culture
  • reception
  • social and political conditions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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