Fairy Tale Controversy, Part 1

“Why should the mind be filled with fantastic visions, instead of useful knowledge? Why should so much valuable time be lost? Why should we vitiate their taste, and spoil their appetite, by suffering them to feed upon sweetmeats?” – Maria Edgeworth, Preface to The Parent’s Assistant (1796) ¹

Fairy tales go back a long way. Early versions of “Beauty and the Beast” were told in classical Greece and ancient India.²  A written version of “Sleeping Beauty” exists from the 20th Dynasty in Egypt.³  It’s truly astonishing how similar folk and fairy tales are across all cultures, sharing plotlines, characters, themes and motifs. The most well-known stories today are only a tiny fraction of thousands of stories from all parts of the globe, and come to us largely from two publications: Histoires ou Contes du Temps passé by Charles Perrault (1696) and the German collections of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (1812-1857).



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