In its exact meaning the fairy tale is a short or popular story. Related to the myth but conceptually differentiated, the fairy tale is from the outset an invention, a fiction, a fantasy narrative that makes metaphorical use of an animal as its central character or introduces stereotypical characters, such as the rascal.
Too often there is a subversive allegory against feudalism or the ruling class, or a clash between the human and the invisible kingdom. It personifies and personalizes different elements beyond the logic of space and time and extends indiscriminately from organic to inorganic world from man and animals to trees, flowers, stones, currents and winds.
The roots of the fairy tale
One question that arose during the scientific study of the fairy tale was what concerned its genesis. Various theories were formulated on the subject, but none gave complete answers and all were challenged in the light of some new scientific perspective.
A. The Indo-European theory: The first theory, also called monogenetics, on the origin of fairy tales came from the Grimm brothers in 1819. They expressed the view that fairy tales – although newer than myths and epic songs – came from a common space, the home of Indo-European culture, and from there they moved along with the Indo-European sexes. Grimm’s basic idea was that “fairy tales were fallen myths (i.e. myths that lost their basic elements and became simpler) and can only be understood through an appropriate interpretation of the myths from which they came”. This theory did not substantiate the Indo-European origins of fairy tales, leaving many questions unanswered.
B. The mythological theory: Similar theory to the first was that of Max Möller, who in 1856 claimed that the fairy tales came from solar myths of the Indo-Europeans, which were included in the holy book Rig-Veda. Möller, based, it seems, on the theory of fallen myths, claimed that initially myths expressed abstract concepts, such as stories about the sun as a central person and protagonists at Night, Heaven, Dawn, etc., but as they spread from India to the peoples of Europe and Asia they lost their original meaning. Trying to interpret the remnants of this mythology, the peoples made the fairy tales. Followers of this theory overlooked the fact that Rigg Veda, on which they relied, was not a creation of popular origin but of the Indian priesthood.
C. The Indian theory: The Indian origins of fairy tales were supported by the Englishman Theodore Benfey. According to Benfi “Indian myths come from the West and mainly from the Greek myths of Aesop, as opposed to fairy tales coming from India and specifically from the Hindu-Buddhist tradition on which it was based”. Some of these fairy tales were spread before the 10th century through oral tradition, others, with a strong Islamic influence, were spread after the 10th century, mainly through Byzantium, Italy and Spain, by literary tradition and, finally, others with Buddhist material spread through China and Tibet to the Mongols and from them to Europe. This view has only historical value today, as it turned out that India may have been one of the main sources of storytelling, but it was not the only one.
D. The polygenetic theory of ethnologists: In 1873 Andrew Lang (A. Lang), influenced by Darwin’s evolutionary theory, formulated the multigenetic theory, according to which: “myths, fairy tales, stories with similar content were presented to different peoples, who were often very local and temporal to each other”. Lang tried through the forms of stories, myths and fairy tales to demonstrate a single course of evolution of peoples through time. Hcg’s ethnographic theory, among other things, “accepted the existence of much greater uniformity in primitive peoples than there probably is in practice.”
E. The historical geographical theory: Monogenetic theory, expressed by the Finnish School, as it was named, in honor of its two Finnish inspirations, Karl Krohn and Andy Aarne. They argued that a fairy tale in a country is transmitted from generation to generation in a stable way, i.e. without significant variations. But when it is broadcast in another country, it changes and adapts to its new cultural environment. The rapporteur of the historical geographical method in Greece was the G.A. Megas.
F. The symbolic theory: The Frenchman Saintyves studied perro’s tales and expressed the view that they came from old rituals. The Frenchman Van Gennep linked the tale to totemism and related ceremonies. The German Naumann (argued that there are many traces of worship ceremonies in the fairy tale, but they need to be carefully explored. These theories have contributed to the understanding of fairy tales, but do not explain their origins adequately. As in polygenetic theory, here too the “symbolists” consider that all primitive societies exhibit a uniformity, much more than is actually the case.
G. Psychological-psychoanalytical theory: Psychological theory approached and interpreted the fairy tale in three different ways, with the clinical approach the use of magical fairy tales for the diagnosis and psychoanalytical treatment of patients, the theoretical approach, based on the study of human psyche, and the textanalytical approach, which studies and analyzes the fairy tale in psychoanalytical terms. This theory could not give a satisfactory answer as to the origin of the fairy tale, but it offered a new dimension to its study.
H. The morphology of V’s fairy tale. Propp: According to the theory of the Russian V. Propp, before we deal with a place of origin and how fairy tales are disseminated, we must define what fairy tales are, that is to say, define their content. His main goal was through the work of Morphology of the Fairytale to give an answer to the question of the similarity between the fairy tales of various peoples. So Prop argued that the division of the fairy tale into its components and its subsequent processing was the most appropriate way of studying it.
As a species the fairy tale belongs to oral or folk literature with origins in all the territories of the world. For the first time in Europe, and in particular, in the movement influenced by romance, Germany is imprinting folk tales intended for adults, with the aim of strengthening German consciousness and studying the German language. Brothers Grimm (Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm) collect and record folk creations, launching the on-site research first. Their fairy tales, containing literary comments and observations, were gathered in three volumes. Their epitome was published in 1822.
In Greece, interest in fairy tales is part of the general interest in the products of popular literature, which contribute mainly to the formation of national identity. In January 1880 Nikolaos Politis published an article in three sequels in the magazine Estia entitled “Public Tales” and the term “In Monacho 1879”. The article was written on the occasion of the publication of two collections of fairy tales made by foreign scholars. One was Austria’s consular representative in Giannena and then in Syros, Johann Georg von Hahn, who in 1864 published, in Leipzig, in German, a collection of fairy tales entitled Modern Greek tales. The other, the Danish Hellenist Jean Pio, in 1879 published a similar collection in Copenhagen, based on Hahn’s notes.
The most fruitful period in terms of recording and saving the folk tale in Greece is considered the period of the last thirty years of the 19th and the first decades of the 20th century. Of course, a few years ago there was a publishing activity in magazines and books, which publish folklore from time to time or exclusively, such as Pandora and Iliissos.