Italy, Spain, Portugal - Fairy tales and folk tales - Forms and genres - children’s literature

Children’s literature

Part II. Forms and genres


19. Fairy tales and folk tales


Ruth B. Bottigheimer


Italy, Spain, Portugal


In Italy, Straparola’s magic tales were published from 1551 throughout the sixteenth century and into the early seventeenth. Translated into French and published there at least sixteen times, they can be understood as France’s first fairy tales, particularly since Charles Perrault, Mme d’Aulnoy and Mme de Murat all borrowed heavily from ‘Straprole’. Straparola’s collection was also translated into Spanish, but had a far briefer publishing history there (Bottigheimer 2002: 123).

Basile’s tales were published throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Naples and several times in the eighteenth century in Bologna. Every printing of fictional narrative provided material for the Italian chapbook trade, and many of Basile’s tales found their way into the cheap press and thence to the semi-literate and illiterate population, where they reinforced existing oral tradition and created new narrative lines. Basile’s ‘Sun, Moon, and Talia’, ‘Gatta Cenerentola’, and ‘Petrosinella’ tales underlay Perrault’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Cinderella’ and Charlotte de la Force’s ‘Persinette’ (‘Rapunzel’) stories, but Basile’s own sources have not yet been conclusively identified.

In Spain and Portugal, religious regulation and a rigid system of imprimaturs proscribed publication of tales of magic from the early seventeenth century until the beginning of the nineteenth century, as the history of Straparola’s magic tales clearly demonstrates (Senn 1993).