Wednesday, May 20, 2009

And They All Lived Happily Ever After

I am not generally privy to academic brouhahas, unless you count all the times I heard my English-professor dad complain about the chairman of his department when I was a child. Thus, I was unaware of the raging debate among scholars of folklore recounted in The Chronicle of Higher Education and picked up by the Times' Idea of the Day blog today.

The argument is between those who assert that fairy tales grew out of oral traditions and those who say they were actually written "in urban settings where such stories would appeal to people in rags exposed to riches around them." The discussion features a 16th-century Italian writer named Straparola (which would be an excellent burlesque name).

I side with those who believe in writers. Sure, Adam Lambert and other Cinderellas are already out there, but their stories, though oral tradition may well play a part (rimshot!), are entirely manufactured for the pleasure of an audience more likely than at any time in the last 75 years to be in rags.

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