Fairy Tales from Past Times


Contes du temps passé (Fairy tales from past times) by Charles Perrault (1628–1703) were published in parts between 1691 and 1697. Perrault polished the texts, reworking the various legends he collected while staying true to the original storylines. His picturesque storytelling reflected in part the popular culture of the time: he purposefully used archaic terms, archetypes (such as the king, the ogre, the cruel stepmother), and a style reminiscent of oral storytelling (with formulas such as “once upon a time” and such repetitions as “Anna my sister Anna”). His tales are also literally anchored in their times: stories are short, the fantastic is viewed with a certain irony, decors are realistic, and certain events unmistakably place the plots in the 17th century. The tales also have an educational aspect, as each ends with a moral. Perrault’s works are so rich that they have been interpreted from all perspectives—historical, sociological, political, ethnological, psychoanalytical—while always remaining fresh and timeless. Presented here is a richly illustrated edition from the 19th century, which omits a few of the tales, transforms a few others (for example, "Donkey Skin" is told in prose rather than poetry), and eliminates the morals as well as the preface by Perrault. The main work is preceded by a long essay on the life and work of Charles Perrault by Emile de La Bédollière. These tales, to which everyone can relate, have become an integral part of Western culture. Included in this edition are “Les Fées” (Diamonds and Toads), “le Petit Chaperon rouge” (Little Red Riding Hood), “Barbe bleue” (Bluebeard), “le Chat botté (The Master Cat, or Puss in Boots), “la Belle au bois dormant” (The Sleeping Beauty), “Cendrillon” (Cinderella), “le Petit Poucet” (Hop o' My Thumb), “Riquet à la Houppe” (Riquet with the Tuft), and “Peau d’Ane” (Donkey Skin).

Last updated: May 11, 2015