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Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States
Hello, and welcome to my blog! I like to write about children's literature, fandom studies, video games, feminism, and pop culture in general. I've recently earned my Ph.D. in children's literature ( Fall 2012) at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I also teach English (composition, British literature, and women's literature) at Sowela Technical Community College. Oh, and I like cats! [Banner image artwork by Yuki Midorikawa]

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cinderella's Castle -- does it really exist?

Hello! Magazine does a tidy bit of promotion for German tourism with its article about a Fairy Tale Tour "from Hanau to Bremen." ("Take a fairytale trip to Germany") Now I will be the first to admit that that tour looks pretty snappy. Any fairytale aficionado would jump at the opportunity to tour both Germany's lovely castles as well as the towns and universities where Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm lived and worked.

But what are we to think of an article that promises tourists the opportunity to view Sleeping Beauty's actual chambers or the woods where Little Red Riding Hood once strolled? I doubt there are many casual readers who genuinely believe a little girl wearing a red riding cape was once tricked by a wolf dressed up as her granny, but would such a tour not lead them to believe that the tale was based on factual events, and that those events took place in a quaint little German forest?

It's brilliant marketing, and it's German nationalism at its best. The Grimm's appropriated tales from all over Europe and gave them a distinctly German flare. Many people read the tale of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty for the first time and really thought they must be German peasant stories. The lie was twofold; not only were the tales not necessarily German in origin, but they were also not likely to have been collected from actual peasants. Many of the tales were outright lifted from fairytale collector predecessors like Giambattista Basile of Italy and Charles Perrault of France. Others were collected from friends and fellow scholars. Some few were generally taken from oral recitation via nursemaids and farmers.

This is not to denigrate the amazing work that the Grimm's did, work that still lives on to this day. They popularized the tales we now love. And they were avid scholars and academics who worked hard at presenting the tales on a variety of levels, academic, populist, and as children's literature.

I just find it so intriguing that the myth of their methods and the origins of the tales they "collected" still exists to this day. And that it is once again being exploited for the benefit of their beloved Germany.

Now, where do I sign up for my tour of Rapunzel's tower!!

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