Charles Perrault

 

"Charles Perrault was a member of the French court. In the 1690s, there was a fashion of creating literary renderings of folk tales for the entertainment of that court, and Perrault participated in this fashion. One aspect of literary adaptation in this manner was to convert the oral tales which truly belonged to the "folk" into forms that served the interests of the more educated ruling classes, as fairy-tale scholar Jack Zipes has argued. It is interesting in this regard to note the high percentage of upper-middle-class or aristocratic characters in Perrault's tales…. While Perrault was writing within a tradition of adapting oral tales into literary retellings, however, his work remained much closer to the folk level than other literary retellings of the time. The Opies claim that Perrault "accepted the fairy tales at their own level," and Stith Thompson argues that Perrault's text is a fairly faithful reproduction of oral tales, in contrast to later French collections that were more clearly literary. In addition, his works were relatively short, so they were appropriate for a child audience in ways that longer fairy tales produced in the French court (as earlier in the Italian court of Basile's time) were not. It is this aspect of his work that most justifies identifying him as the first 'children's writer.'" (Northern.edu)

As the above quote mentions, Charles Perrault was a member of the French court, under the reign of Louis XIV. His tales were intended to amuse and educate the young ladies of the court. His stories often have morals, which deal with issues of achieving grace and beauty. It is important to make mental note of this when interpreting the morals of his stories.

His tales were intended to train young girls in how to become ladies. This is very different from the intention of the Brother's Grimm who reinterpreted fairy tales to emphasize German nationalism. Perrault's tales also include more magical beings than the Brother's Grimm, who often emphasized God as the purveyor of happiness. The intentions of Perrault are illustrated in his stories and emphasized in his "Morals," which idealize beauty and grace as some of the most important characteristics a young woman should possess.

 

 For more information on Charles Perrault, see http://www.northern.edu/hastingw/perrault.html

 

Compare him to other authors:

Grimm Brother's Biography

Tanith Lee

Angela Carter

Louise Glück