The interpretation of fairy tales
By bblfish on Aug 25, 2008
Over the holidays I accidentally picked up a book by Marie-Louise von Franz, "The interpretation of fairy tales", and could not put it down until I reached the last page. I then ordered five other book of hers. If you have ever found fairy tales interesting but puzzling, you don't know how much you have missed. Seen from Marie-Louise's perspective, one of the closest students of Carl Gustav Jung, each of these are nuggets of deep knowledge of the human soul. Here is my translation of the first paragraph of my French translation of "The feminine in Fairy tales":
At the origin, and until approximately the XVIIth century, fairy tales were not so much meant for children as for the adult population. This situation was kept alive in the rural areas where until a relatively recently, story tellers would animate traditional vigils. Progressively though the development of the rational current and its refusal of the irrational, led these tales to be seen as just absurd old woman's stories, just good enough to amuse the children.
My guess is that a lot of this still holds true today, though a lot of her thoughts must have been integrated in one way or another by now. Once one starts learning to read fairy tales like this - though I keep being surprised at how deep her reading goes, and it will not be an easy task to get even close to it - one can start seeing how this can be applied to other arts such as film. I recently saw Jim Jarmush's "Dead Man" which is full of such interesting symbolism for example.