Anonymous - Celtic Fairy Tales (636.0 Kb)
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Fairy tale is an English language term for a type of short narrative corresponding to the French phrase conte de f'ee, the German term M"archen, the Italian fiaba, the Polish ba's'n or the Swedish saga. Only a small number of the stories thus designated explicitly refer to fairies. Nonetheless, the stories may be distinguished from other folk narratives such as legends and traditions (which generally involve belief in the veracity of the events described) and explicitly moral tales, including beast fables. Fairy tales typica... More >>>
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Fairy tale is an English language term for a type of short narrative corresponding to the French phrase conte de f'ee, the German term M"archen, the Italian fiaba, the Polish ba's'n or the Swedish saga. Only a small number of the stories thus designated explicitly refer to fairies. Nonetheless, the stories may be distinguished from other folk narratives such as legends and traditions (which generally involve belief in the veracity of the events described) and explicitly moral tales, including beast fables. Fairy tales typically feature such folkloric characters as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. Often the story will involve a far-fetched sequence of events. In less technical contexts, the term is also used to describe something blessed with unusual happiness, as in "fairy tale ending" or "fairy tale romance" (though not all fairy tales end happily). Colloquially, a "fairy tale" or "fairy story" can also mean any far-fetched story or tall tale. In cultures where demons and witches are perceived as real, fairy tales may merge into legends, where the narrative is perceived both by teller and hearers as being grounded in historical truth. However, unlike legends and epics, they usually do not contain more than superficial references to religion and actual places, people, and events they take place once upon a time rather than in actual times. Fairy tales are found in oral and in literary form. The history of the fairy tale is particularly difficult to trace, because only the literary forms can survive. Still, the evidence of literary works at least indicates that fairy tales have existed for thousands of years, although not perhaps recognized as a genre the name "fairy tale" was first ascribed to them by Madame d'Aulnoy. Many of today's fairy tales have evolved from centuries-old stories that have appeared, with variations, in multiple cultures around the world. Fairy tales, and works derived from fairy tales, are still written today. The older fairy tales were intended for an audience of adults as well as children, but they were associated with children as early as the writings of the pr'ecieuses the Brothers Grimm titled their collection Children's and Household Tales, and the link with children has only grown stronger with time. Folklorists have classified fairy tales in various ways. Among the most notable are the Aarne-Thompson classification system and the morphological analysis of Vladimir Propp. Other folklorists have interpreted the tales' significance, but no school has been definitively established for the meaning of the tales.
"Anonymous" of course means "without a name" and is used when the author is not known--or sometimes, when a story develops out of an oral tradition over generations with possibly many storytellers contributing to and revising the tale before it is finally written down and becomes literature.
A notable amount of ancient and medieval literature is anonymous. This is not only due to the lack of documents from a period, but also due to an interpretation of the author's role that differs considerably from the romantic interpretation of the term in use today. Ancient and Medieval authors were often overawed by the classical writers and the Church Fathers and tended to re-tell and embellish stories they had heard or read rather than invent new stories. And even when they did, they often claimed to be handing down something from an auctor instead. From this point of view, the names of the individual authors seemed much less important, and therefore many important works were never attributed to any specific person.