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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30
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3answers
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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 "...
25
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1answer
1k views

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. ...
22
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3answers
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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?
10
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2answers
177 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 ...
8
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2answers
327 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 ...
8
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1answer
130 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 ...
8
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1answer
464 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 ...
7
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1answer
82 views

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 ...
6
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2answers
2k 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 ...
5
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0answers
44 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. &...
4
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1answer
58 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 ...
4
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1answer
59 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 ...
4
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0answers
30 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 ...
3
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1answer
75 views

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 ...
3
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1answer
56 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 ...
3
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1answer
51 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 ...
3
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0answers
61 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: &...
3
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0answers
34 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 ...
3
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0answers
54 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 ...
2
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1answer
76 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 ...
2
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0answers
306 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 ...
1
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1answer
45 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 ...
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0answers
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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?
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0answers
30 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 ...
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2answers
118 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 "...