Preserving The Spell: Basile's The Tale Of Tales And Its Afterlife In The Fairy-tale Tradition

Hardcover | July 21, 2015

byArmando Maggi

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Fairy tales are supposed to be magical, surprising, and exhilarating, an enchanting counterpoint to everyday life that nonetheless helps us understand and deal with the anxieties of that life. Today, however, fairy tales are far from marvelous—in the hands of Hollywood, they have been stripped of their power, offering little but formulaic narratives and tame surprises.
 
If we want to rediscover the power of fairy tales—as Armando Maggi thinks we should—we need to discover a new mythic lens, a new way of approaching and understanding, and thus re-creating, the transformative potential of these stories. In Preserving the Spell, Maggi argues that the first step is to understand the history of the various traditions of oral and written narrative that together created the fairy tales we know today. He begins his exploration with the ur-text of European fairy tales, Giambattista Basile’s The Tale of Tales, then traces its path through later Italian, French, English, and German traditions, with particular emphasis on the Grimm Brothers’ adaptations of the tales, which are included in the first-ever English translation in an appendix. Carrying his story into the twentieth century, Maggi mounts a powerful argument for freeing fairy tales from their bland contemporary forms, and reinvigorating our belief that we still can find new, powerfully transformative ways of telling these stories.

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From the Publisher

Fairy tales are supposed to be magical, surprising, and exhilarating, an enchanting counterpoint to everyday life that nonetheless helps us understand and deal with the anxieties of that life. Today, however, fairy tales are far from marvelous—in the hands of Hollywood, they have been stripped of their power, offering little but formul...

Armando Maggi is professor of romance languages and literatures and a member of the Committee on the History of Culture at the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, including Satan’s Rhetoric and The Resurrection of the Body: Pier Paolo Pasolini from Sade to Saint Paul, both published by the University of Chicago Pr...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:448 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:July 21, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022624296X

ISBN - 13:9780226242965

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Table of Contents

Dancing Backward: An Introduction
 
Part One: “Cupid and Psyche,” The Tale of Tales, and the Birth of Western Fairy Tale
1 A Never Ending and Never Told Tale: Basile’s Undoing of “Cupid and Psyche”
2 Orpheus, the King of the Birds, Moves to Sicily with Cupid and Psyche: Laura Gonzenbach’s “King Cardiddu”
3 Melancholy Is the Best Storyteller: Oil, Water, and Blood from Gonzenbach back to Basile
 
Part Two: The Italian Tales and German Romanticism: The Brothers Grimm, Clemens Brentano, Novalis
4 What We Leave Behind: Fairies, Letters, Rose Petals, and Sprigs of Myrtle
5 The Fairy, the Myrtle, and the Myrtle-Maiden: From Basile to the Grimms and Brentano
6 How to Undo The Tale of Tales: Brentano and the End of Fairy Tales
7 Where Are the Ogresses of Yesteryear? The Neapolitan Cupids and Psyches in the Hands of the Brothers Grimm
8 Beauty, Zulima, and Aline: The Marvel Preceding and Following the World According to Novalis
 
Part Three: American Postmodernism, Memoirs, and a New Beginning
9 “You Will Never Awaken Because the Story You Were In No Longer Exists”: Coover, Postmodernism, and the End of an Era
10 “Disney World Has Become a Kind of Reverse Lourdes”: From Stanley Elkin back to Basile
11 “A Benign Fairy Tale out of the Brothers Grimm”: Memoirs and the Magic of Reality
12 “Everything Beautiful Is Gone”: Beasts of the Southern Wild and a New Beginning
 
Appendix: The Grimms’ Adaptations of Basile
Notes
IndexDancing Backward: An Introduction
 
Part One: “Cupid and Psyche,” The Tale of Tales, and the Birth of Western Fairy Tale
1 A Never Ending and Never Told Tale: Basile’s Undoing of “Cupid and Psyche”
2 Orpheus, the King of the Birds, Moves to Sicily with Cupid and Psyche: Laura Gonzenbach’s “King Cardiddu”
3 Melancholy Is the Best Storyteller: Oil, Water, and Blood from Gonzenbach back to Basile
 
Part Two: The Italian Tales and German Romanticism: The Brothers Grimm, Clemens Brentano, Novalis
4 What We Leave Behind: Fairies, Letters, Rose Petals, and Sprigs of Myrtle
5 The Fairy, the Myrtle, and the Myrtle-Maiden: From Basile to the Grimms and Brentano
6 How to Undo The Tale of Tales: Brentano and the End of Fairy Tales
7 Where Are the Ogresses of Yesteryear? The Neapolitan Cupids and Psyches in the Hands of the Brothers Grimm
8 Beauty, Zulima, and Aline: The Marvel Preceding and Following the World According to Novalis
 
Part Three: American Postmodernism, Memoirs, and a New Beginning
9 “You Will Never Awaken Because the Story You Were In No Longer Exists”: Coover, Postmodernism, and the End of an Era
10 “Disney World Has Become a Kind of Reverse Lourdes”: From Stanley Elkin back to Basile
11 “A Benign Fairy Tale out of the Brothers Grimm”: Memoirs and the Magic of Reality
12 “Everything Beautiful Is Gone”: Beasts of the Southern Wild and a New Beginning
 
Appendix: The Grimms’ Adaptations of Basile
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Several studies of the Italian forebears of present-day fairy tales have recently been published—works by Canepa, Zipes, and Bottigheimer. Maggi goes beyond those studies, offering what is essentially a study of intertextuality: one travels through the centuries, alerted to revisions/rewriting/riffing on the Cupid and Psyche myth. Maggi includes Germans Clemens Brentano, the Grimm brothers, and Novalis and then follows the trail/tale into the postmodern with analyses of works by Robert Coover and Stanley Elkin, memoirs inflected with fairy tale tropes, and the 2012 film Beasts of the Southern Wild. Footnotes citing French, German, Italian, and English sources reveal Maggi’s deep familiarity with the robust scholarship on fairy tales of the past three decades. An appendix provides Maggi’s translations of the Grimm brothers’ versions of 50 Basile tales. . . . Highly recommended.”