Charles Perrault

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]

Charles Perrault
Portrait (detail) by Philippe Lallemand, 1672
Portrait (detail) by Philippe Lallemand, 1672
Born12 January 1628
Paris, France
Died16 May 1703 (aged 75)
Paris, France
GenreFairy tale
Notable works"The Sleeping Beauty"
"Little Red Riding Hood"
"Puss in Boots"

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.

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.

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, 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]

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.

Charles Perrault02
Perrault in an early 19th-century engraved frontispiece[7]

Perrault was elected to the Académie française in 1671.

He married Marie Guichon, age 19, in 1672; she died in 1678.

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]

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.

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.

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.

Charles Perrault died in Paris in 1703 at the age of 75. 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 who were trying to prey on young girls who were walking through the forest. He provided the following comment about the morality or lesson provided by the story. "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!"[17] 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.[18]

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".[19] 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.[20]

See also


Page 133 illustration from Fairy tales of Charles Perrault (Clarke, 1922)
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". 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. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ Collin, F. (1999). Charles Perrault, le fantôme du XVIIe siècle. Draveil, Colline. ISBN 2-9513668-0-9.
  20. ^ The 1753 London re-edition is available online

Further reading

External links


"Bluebeard" (French: Barbe bleue) is a French folktale, the most famous surviving version of which was written by Charles Perrault and first published by Barbin in Paris in 1697 in Histoires ou contes du temps passé. The tale tells the story of a wealthy violent man in the habit of murdering his wives and the attempts of one wife to avoid the fate of her predecessors. "The White Dove", "The Robber Bridegroom" and "Fitcher's Bird" (also called "Fowler's Fowl") are tales similar to "Bluebeard". The notoriety of the tale is such that Merriam-Webster gives the word "Bluebeard" the definition of "a man who marries and kills one wife after another," and the verb "bluebearding" has even appeared as a way to describe the crime of either killing a series of women, or seducing and abandoning a series of women.

Bluebeard (1901 film)

Bluebeard (French: Barbe-bleue) is a 1901 silent French drama directed by Georges Méliès.

Bluebeard (1951 film)

Bluebeard (German:Blaubart) is a 1951 comedy film directed by Christian-Jaque and starring Hans Albers, Cécile Aubry and Fritz Kortner. It is based on the fairy tale Bluebeard by Charles Perrault. It was made as a co-production between West Germany, France and Switzerland. It was made using the Gevacolor process. A separate French-language version Barbe-Bleue was also made.

Bluebeard (1972 film)

Bluebeard is a 1972 film directed by Edward Dmytryk. It stars Richard Burton, Raquel Welch, Joey Heatherton and Sybil Danning.

Set in Austria in the postwar 1920s, Bluebeard is a World War I pilot with a reputation as a "ladykiller" and a frightening blue tinged beard. Honoured as hero by the Austrian public, the Baron's freezer holds a terrible secret that is discovered by his current wife (Joey Heatherton). noted that some sources claim that Luciano Sacripanti also directed the film.

Cendrillon (Isouard)

Cendrillon (Cinderella) is a French opera in three acts by the Maltese-born composer Nicolas Isouard. It takes the form of an opéra comique with spoken dialogue between the musical numbers, although its authors designated it an opéra féerie. The libretto, by Charles Guillaume Etienne, is based on Charles Perrault's fairy tale Cinderella. The work was first performed by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Feydeau in Paris on 22 February 1810. Cendrillon was a success throughout Europe until its popularity was eclipsed by that of Rossini's opera on the Cinderella theme, La Cenerentola (1817).


"Cinderella" or The Little Glass Slipper, is a folk tale embodying a myth-element of unjust oppression and triumphant reward. Thousands of variants are known throughout the world. The title character is a young woman living in unfortunate circumstances, that are suddenly changed to remarkable fortune. The story of Rhodopis, recounted by the Greek geographer Strabo sometime between around 7 BC and 23 AD, about a Greek slave girl who marries the king of Egypt, is usually considered to be the earliest known variant of the Cinderella story. The first literary European version of the story was published in Italy by Giambattista Basile in his Pentamerone in 1634; the version that is now most widely known in the English-speaking world was published in French by Charles Perrault in Histoires ou contes du temps passé in 1697. Another version was later published by the Brothers Grimm in their folk tale collection Grimms' Fairy Tales in 1812.

Although the story's title and main character's name change in different languages, in English-language folklore Cinderella is the archetypal name. The word Cinderella has, by analogy, come to mean one whose attributes were unrecognized, or one who unexpectedly achieves recognition or success after a period of obscurity and neglect. The still-popular story of Cinderella continues to influence popular culture internationally, lending plot elements, allusions, and tropes to a wide variety of media. The Aarne-Thompson-Uther system classifies Cinderella as Tale Type 510A, Persecuted Heroine.

Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper

Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper is a book illustrated by Marcia Brown. Released by Scribner Press, the book is a retelling of the story of Cinderella as written by Charles Perrault, and was the recipient of the Caldecott Medal for illustration in 1955.

The book takes place in France, in a palace similar to other Cinderella stories.

Cinderella (Ashton)

This version of the Cinderella ballet, using Sergei Prokofiev's Cinderella music and re-choreographed by Frederick Ashton, is a comic ballet.

Diamonds and Toads

Diamonds and Toads or Toads and Diamonds is a French fairy tale by Charles Perrault, and titled by him "Les Fées" or "The Fairies". Andrew Lang included it in The Blue Fairy Book. It was illustrated by Laura Valentine in Aunt Louisa's nursery favourite.In his source, as in Mother Hulda, the kind girl was the stepdaughter, not the other daughter. The change was apparently to decrease the similarity to Cinderella.It is Aarne-Thompson tale 480, the kind and the unkind girls. Others of this type include Shita-kiri Suzume, Frau Holle, The Three Heads in the Well, Father Frost, The Three Little Men in the Wood, The Enchanted Wreath, The Old Witch, and The Two Caskets. Literary variants include The Three Fairies and Aurore and Aimée.


Donkeyskin (French: Peau d'Âne) is a French literary fairytale written in verse by Charles Perrault. It was first published in 1695 in a small volume and republished in 1697 in Perrault's Histoires ou contes du temps passé.Andrew Lang included it, somewhat euphemized, in The Grey Fairy Book. It is classed among folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 510B, unnatural love.


Hop-o'-My-Thumb (Hop-on-My-Thumb), or Hop o' My Thumb, also known as Little Thumbling, Little Thumb, or Little Poucet (French: Le petit Poucet), is one of the eight fairytales published by Charles Perrault in Histoires ou Contes du temps passé (1697), now world-renowned. It is Aarne-Thompson type 327B. The small boy defeats the ogre. This type of fairytale, in the French oral tradition, is often combined with motifs from the type 327A, similar to Hansel and Gretel; one such tale is The Lost Children.The story was first published in English as Little Poucet in Robert Samber's 1729 translation of Perrault's book, "Histories, or Tales of Past Times". In 1764, the name of the hero was changed to Little Thumb. In 1804, William Godwin, in "Tabart's Collection of Popular Stories for the Nursery", retitled it Hop o' my Thumb, a term that was common in the 16th century, referring to a tiny person.

La Cenerentola

La Cenerentola, ossia La bontà in trionfo (Cinderella, or Goodness Triumphant) is an operatic dramma giocoso in two acts by Gioachino Rossini. The libretto was written by Jacopo Ferretti, based on the fairy tale Cendrillon by Charles Perrault. The opera was first performed in Rome's Teatro Valle on 25 January 1817.

Rossini composed La Cenerentola when he was 25 years old, following the success of The Barber of Seville the year before. La Cenerentola, which he completed in a period of three weeks, is considered to have some of his finest writing for solo voice and ensembles. Rossini saved some time by reusing an overture from La gazzetta and part of an aria from The Barber of Seville and by enlisting a collaborator, Luca Agolini, who wrote the secco recitatives and three numbers (Alidoro's "Vasto teatro è il mondo", Clorinda's "Sventurata! Mi credea" and the chorus "Ah, della bella incognita"). The facsimile edition of the autograph has a different aria for Alidoro, "Fa' silenzio, odo un rumore"; this seems to have been added by an anonymous hand for an 1818 production. For an 1820 revival in Rome, Rossini wrote a bravura replacement, "La, del ciel nell'arcano profondo".

La Cenicienta

La Cenicienta (Cinderella) is an opera in three acts composed by Chilean artist Jorge Peña Hen (1928–1973), to a libretto by the Chilean author, Oscar Jara Azocar (1910–1988).

This opera is one of the few operas in the world composed with the aim to be sung, acted and played exclusively by children. It was written in 1966 and played by Jorge Peña Hen's first Symphonic Orchestra of Children at the Theater of the Girls Public School in La Serena, a city in the northern region of Coquimbo.

In 1967, a production of La Cenicienta went on a tour through several cities in Chile: Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Concepción and Santiago, the capital. Its debut was considered a great success.

In 1986, a new version of this children's opera was played in Colombia.

In 1998, 25 years after Jorge Peña Hen's assassination by Chile's military coup officials, another version was re-made in La Serena.

In 2004, a new staging by Fondazione Teatro La Fenice, and in 2005 by University of Chile's Theatre in Santiago, Chile.

The plot of the opera is based on Charles Perrault's classic fairy tale Cinderella.

La belle au bois dormant (Carafa)

La belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty) is an opera in three acts by Michele Carafa to a French libretto by François-Antonine-Eugène de Planard after the tale by Charles Perrault.

It was first performed on 2 March 1825 at the Salle Le Peletier of Paris Opera. The famous tenor Adolphe Nourrit created the role of the Prince. Choreography was by Pierre Gabriel Gardel, and set design by Pierre-Luc-Charles Cicéri.

Little Red Riding Hood

"Little Red Riding Hood" is a European fairy tale about a young girl and a Big Bad Wolf. Its origins can be traced back to the 10th century by several European folk tales, including one from Italy called The False Grandmother (Italian: La finta nonna), later written among others by Italo Calvino in the Italian Folktales collection; the best known versions were written by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm.

The story has been changed considerably in various retellings and subjected to numerous modern adaptations and readings. Other names for the story are: "Little Red Ridinghood", "Little Red Cap" or simply "Red Riding Hood". It is number 333 in the Aarne–Thompson classification system for folktales.

Little Red Riding Hood (opera)

Little Red Riding Hood (Красная шапочка in Russian; transliterated Krasnaja šapočka, literally meaning little red cap) is an opera-fairytale for children in two acts (three tableaux) by César Cui, composed in 1911. The libretto was written by Marina Stanislavona Pol', based on Charles Perrault's fairytale of the same name.

The printed score from 1912 bears a dedication to Crown Prince Alexey of Imperial Russia.

The earliest date of a performance for this opera has yet to be established. However, it is known to have been staged in 1921, in Gomel, in the Byelorussian SSR (now Belarus), by students from the People's City Conservatory and the Technical School.

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty (French: La Belle au bois dormant), or Little Briar Rose (German: Dornröschen), also titled in English as The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods, is a classic fairy tale about a princess that is cursed to sleep for a hundred years by an evil fairy, where she would be awakened by a handsome prince. The Aarne-Thompson classification system for folktales classifies Sleeping Beauty as being a 410 tale type, meaning it includes a princess who is forced into an enchanted sleep and is later awakened by a prince breaking the magic placed upon her.The earliest known version of the story is found in the narrative Perceforest, composed between 1330 and 1344. The tale was first published by Giambattista Basile in his collection of tales titled The Pentamerone (published posthumously in 1634). Basile's version was later adapted and published by Charles Perrault in Histoires ou contes du temps passé in 1697. The version that was later collected and printed by the Brothers Grimm was an orally transmitted version of the literary tale published by Perrault.The story has been adapted many times throughout history and has continued to be retold by modern storytellers throughout various mediums.

The Slipper and the Rose (musical)

The Slipper and the Rose - The Story of Cinderella is a musical theatre retelling of the classic fairy tale of Cinderella. Originally made as a motion picture, the stage musical version was created in 1984 by Philip Burley. It runs for approximately two and a half hours over two acts and an intermission.

The Wacky World of Mother Goose

The Wacky World of Mother Goose (1967) is an animated feature film made by Rankin/Bass, written by Romeo Muller and directed by Jules Bass based on Charles Perrault's stories and nursery rhymes. It features Humpty Dumpty, the Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe, and the Crooked Man (the villain). Mother Goose is voiced by Margaret Rutherford.

Charles Perrault
Cinderella by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm
"Little Red Riding Hood" by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm
Video games
Stage adaptations
Literary adaptations
Other adaptations
Bluebeard (1697) by Charles Perrault

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