Questions tagged [folk-tales]

Questions about folktales or folk tales, i.e. stories that have been orally passed down from generation to generation. For myths and legends, use the [myths] tag.

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Why do many Korean folk tales start with "back when tigers smoked"?

I've read in a few sources that the Korean equivalent of the "once upon a time ..." which often begins English folk stories is something like "back when tigers smoked ..." or "...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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28 votes
1 answer
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When and why did the Brothers Grimm start collecting fairy tales?

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are well known for authoring multiple collections of traditional folk tales in the late 18th/early 19th century. Their first major collection of stories was published in 1812. ...
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3 answers
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Is a moral lesson a requirement for fairy tales?

Many of the fairy tales collected by the Grimm's have a moral. Is a moral lesson a requirement for fairy tales?
James Jenkins's user avatar
19 votes
4 answers
5k views

In what Chinese fairy tale does a painter disappear into his own painting?

The online description of Rüdiger Safranski's book Wieviel Wahrheit braucht der Mensch? begins with the following sentence: In einem berühmten chinesischen Märchen verschwindet der Maler in seinem ...
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In which version of "Snow White" is her name really "Lips Red as Blood, Hair Black as Ebony, Skin White as Snow"?

Is there a version of Snow White where her name is a longer description? TVTropes says: Snow White. Her real name is "Lips Red as Blood, Hair Black as Ebony, Skin White as Snow" based on ...
Malady's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
557 views

How familiar would the "Blind men and an elephant" tale be in the West?

I am translating my article to English, which heavily uses the Blind men and an elephant tale. Since the metaphor is important, I wonder how it would be perceived in the West, especially in the US. Do ...
Ooker's user avatar
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10 votes
3 answers
3k views

What was "Rip Van Winkle" based on?

I was recently surprised to discover that the story of Rip Van Winkle is credited to the US author Washington Irving, who published it in 1819. I'd always vaguely imagined it to be a Brothers Grimm ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
436 views

How did Mama and Papa bear know someone was sitting in their chairs?

Goldilocks sits in Mama and Papa bears' chairs, but does not break them: After she'd eaten the three bears' breakfasts she decided she was feeling a little tired. So, she walked into the living ...
Owen's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
1k views

What's the defining difference between a fairy tale and a fable?

In Is a moral lesson a requirement for fairy tales?, the commenting crowd has pressed for clear distinguishment between whether fables or fairy tales are being discussed. How do fables and fairy ...
doppelgreener's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
392 views

Are there significant differences across the Nordic countries in the traditional portrayal of trolls?

Trolls are a common feature of Scandinavian folklore - and possibly also of those of the wider Nordic region, Finland and Iceland as well as Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, although I'm not sure about ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
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What religion is suggested by the "God" in the Korean sun/moon origin story?

In the Korean folk story 해와 달이 된 오누이, translated here as "The Origin of the Sun and the Moon" from Pyun Yung-tai, Tales from Korea (Seoul, 1948), two children are pursued by a tiger and end ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
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What is the original Korean title of "The Tiger and the Persimmon"?

This short Korean folk story has been variously translated into English: The Tiger and the Persimmon Tiger and Dried Persimmon The Tiger and the Dried Persimmons The Tiger and the Dried Persimmon I ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
233 views

Story about two men walking through the forest

This is a story (fable) that I remember reading or hearing when I was young (UK, probably between 2000-2010). It felt more like an older fable than a story written then in the 2000s. The part I ...
sam_smith's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
329 views

Why are so many fairy tales so similar?

In Europe, fairytales have various different names of the same story, or variants. One example of this is Charles Perrault's Cinderella ("Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufle de verre") and the much ...
North Læraðr's user avatar
5 votes
0 answers
61 views

Is there a "moral-index" of fables?

There is a motif-index for folk-literature composed by Stith Thompson. I wonder if there is a similar index regrouping fables by the moral they convey? As a rough example G. Blinded by greed G.1. &...
Firmin Martin's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
154 views

The Grand Old Duke of York: how did historical events become nursery rhymes?

"The Grand old Duke of York" is a well-known English nursery rhyme concerning the exploits of an not-specifically-identified duke of York. Wikipedia, citing the Opies and other books, gives ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
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Significance of trail of pebbles vs breadcrumbs?

In Hansel and Gretel, I am not sure if the standard version has the parents abandoning the kids twice but I think so and the second abandonment (or the first) is simply omitted with Hans leaving a ...
releseabe's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
141 views

Looking for a modern fairy-tale in which a prince goes on "impossible" quests for a princess, but ends up marrying a witch who helped him

I'm looking for a story (almost certainly a modern author working in a fairy-tale motif, rather than an actual folk tale) in which a prince is given a sequence of "impossible" tasks by a ...
RLH's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
157 views

Source for the Stages of Drunkenness resembling sheep, lion, ape, sow?

While researching various levels of drunkenness, at the Online Etymology Dictionary site I found a statement that medieval folklore recognized four successive stages of it, in which drinkers resembled ...
Etymfan's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
219 views

Audio versions of fairy tales, distinctive "Long ago and far away ..." intro

As a child, I had a collection of cassette tapes with audio versions of some retold fairy tales. I don't remember any of the particular stories, although I imagine they were classics like Snow White ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
98 views

What story is the idea that it's better to pick a small box rather than a large one from?

For as long as I can remember, whenever I'm presented with a choice between a small and a large box in a video game or something, I've had the idea that I should pick the small box rather than the ...
Angelos's user avatar
  • 143
4 votes
1 answer
1k views

"This Is Water" David Foster Wallace Commencement Speech Fish Story Reference

In David Foster Wallace's "This Is Water" Commencement Speech, there is a story used as a metaphor about a fish asking another fish "what the hell is water": There are these two young fish swimming ...
A. Fenzry's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
214 views

Are all Aesop's fables available in English?

There is an index of all Aesop's fables, called Perry Index, that was organized by Ben Edwin Perry in the 20th century. But some stories are nowhere to be found, like "579 - The Sword and the ...
Chaotic's user avatar
  • 203
4 votes
1 answer
273 views

What is the evidence that Flemish fables or fairy tales began with the words “back when the animals could still speak”?

In an answer to the question Why do many Korean folk tales start with “back when tigers smoked”?, user @Flater, who comes from the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium (i.e. Flanders), claims that the Dutch ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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4 votes
0 answers
55 views

Fairytale/fable/parable about a dog trying to run to a monastery that's rung its bell

The story goes like this: A dog hears the monastery ring its bell, which indicates that there will be food there. So he runs up the hill leading to the monastery. When he's about halfway there, he ...
xiaodai's user avatar
  • 141
4 votes
0 answers
54 views

Story from a book of unusual fairy tales, about a beast that terrorized a village from a pond of milk

When I was a kid I read a book that had a collection of unusual fairy tale stories. One story was about a hero who wished to defeat a beast. This beast had made a deal with a village. The deal was ...
user19922's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
532 views

Why specify Mr. Berry looked into the brass like Snow White's queen in Ellison's "The Black Ball"?

My literature class assigned "The Black Ball" by Ralph Ellison. The strange white man offering a card for a union meeting has just left, and John's boss Mr. Berry has come to check on his ...
bobble's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
120 views

What is the title of this fable where a mongoose is getting married but takes too long to collect a dowry?

My friend described a possible fable to me that they read as a child. They recall it being a picture book that was a fable/folk tale that had a weasel/mongoose type character. The main character gets ...
user93468's user avatar
  • 301
3 votes
1 answer
658 views

Are the sun and moon generally personified in Korean folklore, or just in this origin story?

There's a Korean folk story entitled 해와 달이 된 오누이, variously translated as "The Origin of the Sun and the Moon" or "Sister Sun and Brother Moon" etc. I read it here, cited to Pyun ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
122 views

Red Riding Hood Unabridged?

Below are my painstaking research and failed purchases, though somewhat long-winded, my aim is simple: to find a version of Little Red Riding Hood that meets the following criteria: original (200+ ...
Arash Howaida's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
593 views

In "The Magpie and the Bell", how can the snake transform into a dragon?

I just read the Korean folk tale "The Magpie and the Bell" (I don't know whose translation this is), in which a huge snake claims to be able to transform into a dragon and rise to heaven: &...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
61 views

Is this a real Indian fairy tale about a monkey who changes colour and marries a princess?

In R. K. Narayan's short story "A Willing Slave" (which I read as part of his 1982 collection Malgudi Days), the nanny Ayah tells a story to the young girl Radha: The Ayah squatted below the cot ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
74 views

Looking for the title of a folklore which was about moon princess being jealous of her sister sun princess

I read this short story back in middle school during my literature class when we were studying about folklore. It was about a moon princess being jealous of her sister sun princess so much that she ...
Judy's user avatar
  • 31
2 votes
1 answer
95 views

Fairy One Wing storybook from 1960s

I’m trying to find a copy of a beautifully illustrated storybook I had a a child in the 1960s called Fairy One Wing, which I loved very much. This is the exact title. Does anyone have a copy or know ...
Jane's user avatar
  • 21
2 votes
2 answers
96 views

To what folklore about rats and skirts does this allude?

In Arthur Ransome's Coot Club (1934), the Hullabaloos are the "bad guys": obnoxious tourists, three men and two women, who roar around the inland waters of the Norfolk Broads in a rented ...
Jacob Wegelin's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
560 views

Fairy tale about a Princess who turns into a monster at night

I'm searching for a fairy tale, or a fairy tale retelling, that I've read in English. The story is about a Princess who turns into a monster or a beast at night and so is locked away. If a man can ...
Sarah's user avatar
  • 21
2 votes
0 answers
108 views

Origin of the phrase “back when the animals could still speak” in Dutch fables or fairy tales

In Dutch, some fables or fairy tales (or both) begin with the words "[lang geleden] toen de dieren nog spraken / konden spreken", i.e. "[a long time ago] back when the animals still ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
757 views

Fairy tale about disguised Prince searching for Princess [closed]

I’m searching for a fairy tale I’m almost sure I once read as a child about a Prince who was searching for his Princess. Because all the established Princesses he knew from surrounding kingdoms were ...
Elven Padawan's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
65 views

Tale of a Dog Chasing the Sun/Trying to Find Its Owner?

So during the Korean Folktale Topic Challenge, I was actually searching for a specific story that I thought was associated with a mythical beast called "Haetchi" or a "Haetae". It'...
North Læraðr's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
115 views

Why are The Wild Swans by Andersen and The Six Swans by Grimm so similar to each other?

Why are The Wild Swans by Andersen and The Six Swans by Grimm so similar to each other? Which one is more original?
Tim's user avatar
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-2 votes
2 answers
201 views

Original Grimms' fairy tales

The problem with Fairy Tales is that with the passage of time they were changed in order to become more politically correct. Which version of the Grimms' fairy tales was least affected by "...
Roland's user avatar
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