Charles Perrault

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Charles Perrault
ChPerrault.jpg
Portrait (detail) by Philippe Lallemand, 1672
Born(1628-01-12)12 January 1628
Paris, France
Died16 May 1703(1703-05-16) (aged 75)
Paris, France
Genre Fairy tale
Notable works"The Sleeping Beauty"
"Little Red Riding Hood"
"Cinderella"
"Puss in Boots"

Charles Perrault (French:  [ʃaʁl pɛʁo] ; 12 January 1628 – 16 May 1703) was a French author and member of the Académie Française. He laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, with his works derived from earlier folk tales. The best known of his tales include Le Petit Chaperon Rouge ( Little Red Riding Hood ), Cendrillon ( Cinderella ), Le Chat Botté ( Puss in Boots ), La Belle au bois Dormant ( The Sleeping Beauty ) and Barbe Bleue ( Bluebeard ). [1] Some of Perrault's versions of old stories have influenced the German versions published by the Brothers Grimm more than 100 years later. The stories continue to be printed and have been adapted to opera, ballet (such as Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty ), theatre, and film. Perrault was an influential figure in the 17th-century French literary scene, and was the leader of the Modern faction during the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns. [2]

Genre is any form or type of communication in any mode with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. Genre is most popularly known as a category of literature, music, or other forms of art or entertainment, whether written or spoken, audio or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria, yet genres can be aesthetic, rhetorical, communicative, or functional. Genres form by conventions that change over time as cultures invent new genres and discontinue the use of old ones. Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions. Stand-alone texts, works, or pieces of communication may have individual styles, but genres are amalgams of these texts based on agreed-upon or socially inferred conventions. Some genres may have rigid, strictly adhered-to guidelines, while others may show great flexibility.

Fairy tale fictional story featuring folkloric fantasy characters

A fairy tale, wonder tale, magic tale, or Märchen is a folklore genre that takes the form of a short story. Such stories typically feature entities such as dwarfs, dragons, elves, fairies, giants, gnomes, goblins, griffins, mermaids, talking animals, trolls, unicorns, or witches, and usually magic or enchantments. In most cultures, there is no clear line separating myth from folk or fairy tale; all these together form the literature of preliterate societies. Fairy tales may be distinguished from other folk narratives such as legends and explicit moral tales, including beast fables. The term is mainly used for stories with origins in European tradition and, at least in recent centuries, mostly relates to children's literature.

Folklore Legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales, etc.

Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as tales, proverbs and jokes. They include material culture, ranging from traditional building styles to handmade toys common to the group. Folklore also includes customary lore, the forms and rituals of celebrations such as Christmas and weddings, folk dances and initiation rites. Each one of these, either singly or in combination, is considered a folklore artifact. Just as essential as the form, folklore also encompasses the transmission of these artifacts from one region to another or from one generation to the next. Folklore is not something one can typically gain in a formal school curriculum or study in the fine arts. Instead, these traditions are passed along informally from one individual to another either through verbal instruction or demonstration. The academic study of folklore is called Folklore studies, and it can be explored at undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. levels.

Contents

Life and work

Perrault was born in Paris to a wealthy bourgeois family, the seventh child of Pierre Perrault and Paquette Le Clerc. He attended very good schools and studied law before embarking on a career in government service, following in the footsteps of his father and elder brother Jean.[ citation needed ]

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

He took part in the creation of the Academy of Sciences as well as the restoration of the Academy of Painting. In 1654, he moved in with his brother Pierre, who had purchased the position of chief tax collector of the city of Paris. When the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres was founded in 1663, Perrault was appointed its secretary and served under Jean Baptiste Colbert, finance minister to King Louis XIV. [3] Jean Chapelain, Amable de Bourzeys, and Jacques Cassagne (the King's librarian) were also appointed.[ citation needed ]

Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres French learned society devoted to the humanities, founded in February 1663 as one of the five academies of the Institut de France

The Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres is a French learned society devoted to the humanities, founded in February 1663 as one of the five academies of the Institut de France.

Jean Chapelain French poet and critic

Jean Chapelain was a French poet and critic during the Grand Siècle, best known for his role as an organizer and founding member of the Académie française. Chapelain acquired considerable prestige as a literary critic, but his own major work, an epic poem about Joan of Arc called "La Pucelle," (1656) was lampooned by his contemporary Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux.

Amable de Bourzeis was a French churchman, writer, hellenist, and Academician.

Using his influence as Colbert's administrative aide, he was able to get his brother, Claude Perrault, employed as designer of the new section of the Louvre, built between 1665 and 1680, to be overseen by Colbert. His design was chosen over designs by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (with whom, as Perrault recounts in his Memoirs, he had stormy relations while the Italian artist was in residence at Louis's court in 1665) and François Mansart. [4] One of the factors leading to this choice included the fear of high costs, for which other architects were infamous[ citation needed ], and second was the personal antagonism between Bernini and leading members of Louis's court, including Colbert and Perrault; King Louis himself maintained a public air of benevolence towards Bernini, ordering the issuing of a royal bronze portrait medal in honor of the artist in 1674. [5] As Perrault further describes in his Memoirs, however, the king harbored private resentment at Bernini's displays of arrogance. The king was so displeased with Bernini's equestrian statue of him that he ordered it to be destroyed; however, his courtiers prevailed upon him to have it redone instead, with a head depicting the Roman hero Marcus Curtius. [6]

Claude Perrault French architect

Claude Perrault was a French architect, best known for his participation in the design of the east façade of the Louvre in Paris. He also achieved success as a physician and anatomist, and as an author, who wrote treatises on physics and natural history.

Louvre Art museum and Historic site in Paris, France

The Louvre, or the Louvre Museum, is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement. Approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres. In 2018, the Louvre was the world's most visited art museum, receiving 10.2 million visitors.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini Italian artist

Gian Lorenzo Bernini was an Italian sculptor and architect. While a major figure in the world of architecture, he was, also and even more prominently, the leading sculptor of his age, credited with creating the Baroque style of sculpture. As one scholar has commented, "What Shakespeare is to drama, Bernini may be to sculpture: the first pan-European sculptor whose name is instantaneously identifiable with a particular manner and vision, and whose influence was inordinately powerful...." In addition, he was a painter and a man of the theater: he wrote, directed and acted in plays, for which he designed stage sets and theatrical machinery. He produced designs as well for a wide variety of decorative art objects including lamps, tables, mirrors, and even coaches.

In 1668, Perrault wrote La Peinture (Painting) to honor the king's first painter, Charles Le Brun. He also wrote Courses de tetes et de bague (Head and Ring Races, 1670), written to commemorate the 1662 celebrations staged by Louis for his mistress, Louise-Françoise de La Baume le Blanc, duchesse de La Vallière.[ citation needed ]

Charles Le Brun 17th-century French painter and art theorist

Charles Le Brun was a French painter, physiognomist, art theorist, and a director of several art schools of his time. As court painter to Louis XIV, who declared him "the greatest French artist of all time", he was a dominant figure in 17th-century French art and much influenced by Nicolas Poussin.

Louise de La Vallière mistress of Louis XIV

Louise de La Vallière was a mistress of Louis XIV of France from 1661 to 1667. She later became the Duchess of La Vallière and Duchess of Vaujours in her own right. She has no known surviving descendants. Louise was also very religious and she led a religious penance for herself near the end of her life.

Perrault in an early 19th-century engraved frontispiece Charles Perrault02.jpg
Perrault in an early 19th-century engraved frontispiece

Perrault was elected to the Académie française in 1671.[ citation needed ]

Académie française Pre-eminent council for the French language

The Académie française is the pre-eminent French council for matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution, it was restored as a division of the Institut de France in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte. It is the oldest of the five académies of the institute.

He married Marie Guichon, age 19, in 1672; she died in 1678.[ citation needed ]

In 1669 Perrault advised Louis XIV to include thirty-nine fountains each representing one of the fables of Aesop in the labyrinth of Versailles in the gardens of Versailles. The work was carried out between 1672 and 1677. Water jets spurting from the animals' mouths were conceived to give the impression of speech between the creatures. There was a plaque with a caption and a quatrain written by the poet Isaac de Benserade next to each fountain. Perrault produced the guidebook for the labyrinth, Labyrinte de Versailles, printed at the royal press, Paris, in 1677, and illustrated by Sebastien le Clerc. [8]

Philippe Quinault, a longtime family friend of the Perraults, quickly gained a reputation as the librettist for the new musical genre known as opera, collaborating with composer Jean-Baptiste Lully. After Alceste (1674) was denounced by traditionalists who rejected it for deviating from classical theater, Perrault wrote in response Critique de l'Opéra (1674) in which he praised the merits of Alceste over the tragedy of the same name by Euripides. [9] [ citation needed ]

This treatise on Alceste initiated the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns (Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes), which pitted supporters of the literature of Antiquity (the "Ancients") against supporters of the literature from the century of Louis XIV (the "Moderns"). He was on the side of the Moderns and wrote Le Siècle de Louis le Grand (The Century of Louis the Great, 1687) and Parallèle des Anciens et des Modernes (Parallel between Ancients and Moderns, 1688–1692) where he attempted to prove the superiority of the literature of his century. Le Siècle de Louis le Grand was written in celebration of Louis XIV's recovery from a life-threatening operation. Perrault argued that because of Louis's enlightened rule, the present age was superior in every respect to ancient times. He also claimed that even modern French literature was superior to the works of antiquity, and that, after all, even Homer nods.[ citation needed ]

In 1682, Colbert forced Perrault into retirement at the age of 56, assigning his tasks to his own son, Jules-Armand, marquis d'Ormoy. Colbert would die the next year, and Perrault stopped receiving the pension given to him as a writer. Colbert's bitter rival succeeded him, François-Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois, and quickly removed Perrault from his other appointments.[ citation needed ]

After this, in 1686, Perrault decided to write epic poetry and show his genuine devotion to Christianity, writing Saint Paulin, évêque de Nôle (St. Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, about Paulinus of Nola). Just like Jean Chapelain's La Pucelle, ou la France délivrée, an epic poem about Joan of Arc, Perrault became a target of mockery from Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux.[ citation needed ]

Charles Perrault died in Paris in 1703 at the age of 75.[ citation needed ] On 12 January 2016 Google honoured him with a doodle by artist Sophie Diao depicting characters from the Tales of Mother Goose (Histoires ou contes du temps passé). [10]

Fairy tales

In 1695, when he was 67, Perrault lost his position as secretary and decided to dedicate himself to his children. In 1697 he published Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals (Histoires ou Contes du Temps passé), subtitled Tales of Mother Goose (Les Contes de ma Mère l'Oye). (The spelling of the name is with "y" although modern French uses only an "i".) This "Mother Goose" has never been identified as a person, but used to refer to popular and rural storytelling traditions in proverbial phrases of the time. (Source : Dictionnaire de l'Académie, 1694, quoted by Nathalie Froloff in her edition of the Tales (Gallimard, Folio, Paris, 1999.- p. 10). [11] ) These tales, based on French popular tradition, were very popular in sophisticated court circles. Its publication made him suddenly very widely known and he is often credited as the founder of the modern fairy tale genre. [12] Naturally, his work reflects awareness of earlier fairy tales written in the salons, most notably by Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d'Aulnoy, who coined the phrase "fairy tale" and wrote tales as early as 1690. [13] [14]

Some of his popular stories, particularly Cinderella [15] and The Sleeping Beauty, are still commonly told similar to the way Perrault had written them, while others have been revised over the years. For example, some versions of Sleeping Beauty published today are based partially on a Brothers Grimm tale, Little Briar Rose, a modified version of the Perrault story, [16] but the Disney version is quite true to the original Perrault tale.

Perrault had written Little Red Riding Hood as a warning to readers about men preying on young girls walking through the forest. He concludes his fairy tale with a moral, cautioning women and young girls about the dangers of trusting men. He states, "Watch out if you haven’t learned that tame wolves/ Are the most dangerous of all” [17] . Perrault warns the readers about the manipulation and false appearances some men portray: "I say Wolf, for all wolves are not of the same sort; there is one kind with an amenable disposition – neither noisy, nor hateful, nor angry, but tame, obliging and gentle, following the young maids in the streets, even into their homes. Alas! Who does not know that these gentle wolves are of all such creatures the most dangerous!" [18] Indeed, the girl gets into bed with the wolf and is devoured. There is no happy ending as in most current versions of the story. [19]

He had actually published his collection under the name of his last son (born in 1678), Pierre (Perrault) Darmancourt ("Armancourt" being the name of a property he bought for him), probably fearful of criticism from the "Ancients". [20] In the tales, he used images from around him, such as the Chateau Ussé for The Sleeping Beauty , and the Marquis of the Château d'Oiron as the model for the Marquis de Carabas in Puss in Boots . He ornamented his folktale subject matter with details, asides and subtext drawn from the world of fashion. Following up on these tales, he translated the Fabulae Centum (100 Fables) of the Latin poet Gabriele Faerno into French verse in 1699. [21]

See also

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Histoires ou contes du temps passé, avec des moralités or Contes de ma mère l'Oye is a collection of literary fairy tales written by Charles Perrault, published in Paris in 1697. The work became popular because it was written at a time when fairy tales were fashionable amongst aristocrats in Parisian literary salons. Perrault wrote the work when he retired from court as secretary to Jean-Baptiste Colbert, minister to Louis XIV of France. Colbert's death may have forced Perrault's retirement, at which point he turned to writing. Scholars have debated as the origin of his tales and whether they are original literary fairy tales modified from commonly known stories, or based on stories written by earlier medieval writers such as Boccaccio.

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References

Page 133, illustration from Fairy tales of Charles Perrault Page 133 illustration from Fairy tales of Charles Perrault (Clarke, 1922).png
Page 133, illustration from Fairy tales of Charles Perrault
  1. Biography, Bibliography Archived 14 January 2006 at the Wayback Machine (in French)/
  2. Morgan, Jeanne (1985). Perrault's Morals for Moderns. New York, Berne, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. ISBN   0820402303.
  3. Sideman, B. B.: "The World's Best Fairy Tales", page 831. The Reader's Digest Association, 1967.
  4. For the conflict between Bernini and Perrault in Paris, see Mormando, Franco (2011). Bernini: His Life and His Rome. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 268–288. ISBN   978-0-226-53852-5.
  5. Mormando, Franco (2011). Bernini: His Life and His Rome. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 245–288, passim. ISBN   978-0-226-53852-5.
  6. Zarucchi, Jeanne Morgan (2013). "Perrault's Memoirs and Bernini: A Reconsideration". Renaissance Studies. 27:3: 356–70.
  7. The engraving is derived at more than one remove from the portrait of 1671, now at the Musée de Versailles, by an unknown artist.
  8. "scan of the book at the Bibliothèque nationale de France". Gallica.bnf.fr. 15 October 2007. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  9. Quinault, Philippe (1994). Brooks, William; Norman, Buford; Zarucchi, Jeanne Morgan (eds.). Alceste suivi de La Querelle d'Alceste. Geneva: Droz. ISBN   2600000534.
  10. "Charles Perrault's 388th Birthday". Google Doodle. Google Inc. 12 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  11. Neil, Philip; Nicoletta Simborowski (1993). The Complete Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 126. ISBN   0-395-57002-6.
  12. Flood, Alison (12 January 2016). "Charles Perrault: the modern fairytale's fairy godfather". The Guardian- Books. The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2016. The stories...might have been old, but what he did with them was new.
  13. The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 6th Edition. Edited by Margaret Drabble, Oxford University Press, 2000 Pp781
  14. Jasmin, Nadine (2002). Naissance du conte féminin, Mots et merveilles, Les contes de fées de Madame d’Aulnoy, 1690-1698. Paris: Champion. ISBN   2-7453-0648-0.
  15. "The many versions of Cinderella: One of the most ancient fairy tales". Swide Art & Culture. Dolce&Gabbana. 21 February 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2016. The famous fairy tale of Cinderella is best known from the film made by Walt Disney in 1950, which in turn is based on the story penned by Charles Perrault.
  16. Williams, Rhiannon (12 January 2016). "Who was Charles Perrault? Why the fairy tales you know may not be as they seem". The Telegraph. London, England. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  17. Perrault, Charles (1697). Tales of Mother Goose.
  18. Williams, Rhiannon (12 January 2016). "Who was Charles Perrault? Why the fairy tales you know may not be as they seem". The Telegraph. London, England. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  19. "Little Red Riding Hood Charles Perrault". Pitt.Edu. University of Pittsburgh. 21 September 2003. Retrieved 12 January 2016. And, saying these words, this wicked wolf fell upon Little Red Riding Hood, and ate her all up.
  20. Collin, F. (1999). Charles Perrault, le fantôme du XVIIe siècle. Draveil, Colline. ISBN   2-9513668-0-9.
  21. The 1753 London re-edition is available online

Further reading