33 votes
Accepted

Is a moral lesson a requirement for fairy tales?

No. Some fairy tales don't have morals, and lots that do have morals that aren't that useful. For instance, the Grimm brothers wrote many amoral stories, and many (not just the Grimm's) are ...
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27 votes

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

Seems to be referring to Wu Daozi (680 – c. 760, a Chinese painter of the Tang dynasty), as depicted in the following text: Wu's death was a myth. One story says that after painting a mural about a ...
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  • 1,394
24 votes

Is a moral lesson a requirement for fairy tales?

No. There's a terminology conflict here. A fairy tale is a fantastical adventure, set in an indistinguishable far-off place and time, in which a good character goes through hardship and comes out ...
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  • 343
24 votes

In which version of "Snow White" is her name really "Lips Red as Blood, Hair Black as Ebony, Skin White as Snow"?

Here’s the start of the story ‘Sneewittchen’ as given by the brothers Grimm: Es war einmal mitten im Winter und die Schneeflocken fielen wie Federn vom Himmel, da saß eine schöne Königin an einem ...
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  • 40.1k
22 votes

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

As identified in the answer by HeyJude, this could be the story of the disappearance of Tang dynasty painter Wu Daozi (吴道子; variously transliterated as Wu Tao-tsz’, Wu Tao-Tsu, or Go Doshi). The ...
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  • 40.1k
20 votes

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

That went a lot further down the rabbit-hole than I expected. There doesn't seem to be a lot of agreement on the origin of the phrase. It wouldn't seem like it would be a very old reference, since ...
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  • 7,942
14 votes
Accepted

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

The story of the Blind Men and the Elephant is well-known in the West. Perhaps mostly due to the version of the tale written by John Godfrey Saxe, a 19th-century US poet who retold the story as a poem,...
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  • 63.5k
10 votes

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

Note As mentioned in the comments, a challenge was posted contesting the content of this answer. I answered the challenge with multiple real-world usages and the alleged origins of the expression. I'm ...
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  • 242
8 votes
Accepted

What religion is suggested by the "God" in the Korean sun/moon origin story?

You don't know how funny it is to read this. This requires both cultural knowledge of Korea as well as the language. The "Heavenly Lord" or in this context is formally called Haneulnim (하늘님, ...
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8 votes
Accepted

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

From the dictionary definition of a fable: A short story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral Oxford Dictionaries: "Fable" Merriam Webster defines Fairy tale as: a story (...
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  • 389
8 votes
Accepted

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

There are great variations of how trolls are portrayed, but it is not primarily a matter of national literature. I will be focusing on Sweden and Norway, where I know the traditions best. First, we ...
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  • 3,253
8 votes
Accepted

What was "Rip Van Winkle" based on?

I'm reasonably certain that Irving's major inspiration for Rip van Winkle was the German folktale Peter Klaus (text here). Almost all the analyses I've read give it precedence over other works (Karl ...
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  • 5,674
8 votes
Accepted

What is the original Korean title of "The Tiger and the Persimmon"?

In Korean, the story is called 호랑이와 곶감. I would personally go with the translation: “The Tiger and the Dried Persimmons", but this isn't the exact translation. First, I’ll address the food, ...
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8 votes

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

The original source seems to be ‘Pierce Penilesse, His Supplication to the Divell’ by Thomas Nashe, published in 1592. Nor haue we one or two kinde of drunkards onely, but eight kindes. The first is ...
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  • 15.6k
7 votes
Accepted

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

According to the 1839 edition of Robert Southey's The Story of the Three Bears it was because their chairs' cushions were disturbed: "Somebody in my chair has sat!" With voice so gruff and great ...
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  • 3,860
6 votes

What was "Rip Van Winkle" based on?

Yes, certainly, but we don't know exactly which one(s). The Wikipedia page for the story lists many possible literary forerunners from both European and Native American folk and fairy tale traditions ...
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  • 1,442
4 votes
Accepted

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

It's from scores of fairy tales. There is the trope where asking for one means you get given the other, but there is the trope where the less impressive looking thing is the more powerful. The casket ...
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  • 4,184
4 votes
Accepted

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

Traveling to Tondo: A Tale of the Nkundo of Zaire On his way to his wedding, with his friends as attendants, a civet cat meets with extraordinary and unexpected delays. Reviews on Goodreads ...
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  • 2,021
4 votes
Accepted

Story about two men walking through the forest

It is, apparently, a German story of the type The Two Travelers: Truth and Falsehood folktale of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 613 Unsurprisingly, the tables are turned by the end of the tale. Quoted ...
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  • 15.6k
3 votes

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

when Koreans say "back when tigers smoked," this is kind of the equivalent of Americans saying "long ago, when dinosaurs used to roam the Earth" except that dinosaurs actually ...
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3 votes
Accepted

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

Pre-2005 is not hard since it was mentioned in Infinite Jest (1996). A biker from AA group tells the joke/story to Don Gately. It’s not clear if this joke was invented or adapted by Wallace. Infinite ...
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  • 826
2 votes
Accepted

Why are so many fairy tales so similar?

Well, let's clear the first misconception: Fairy tales aren't for children. Or at least, not all of them weren't meant to be for children until much later. Most fairy tales originated as folk tales ...
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2 votes

Are all Aesop's fables available in English?

You could do worse than the English translations by Laura Gibbs (2002), published by Oxford University Press and available online at Gibbs’ site ‘Aesopica’. The two fables you asked about are Perry ...
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  • 40.1k
2 votes

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

Since you specifically mentioned that it is a fairy tale, it is possible that it stems from "The Wonderful Chuang Brocade." Unlike the tale of Wu Daozi, it does not feature a painter ...
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  • 4,184
2 votes
Accepted

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

No, not as far as I know of. Most Korean folk tales are similar to European fairy tales in the sense that each story may share similar themes and motifs, the specifics don't seem to relate. I could be ...
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2 votes
Accepted

Original Grimms' fairy tales

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first edition of their fairy tale collection in 1812 (first volume) and 1815 (second volume). This collection was republished in 1819, 1837, 1840, 1843, 1850 and ...
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  • 38.5k
1 vote

Original Grimms' fairy tales

The Grimm brothers were the first writers to actually try to collect and preserve fairy tales as such, and not as raw material to make literary works out of. Nevertheless they did modify the tales ...
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  • 4,184
1 vote

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

The closest match I can find in Myths and Legends from Korea: An Annotated Compendium of Ancient and Modern Materials by James H. Grayson (Routledge, 2001) is Tale 100: "The Origin of Eclipses&...
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  • 38.5k
1 vote

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

Your arbitrary criteria I am contesting your criteria. Your criteria are not relevant to my original claim. Your requirement for Dutch originating sources: Belgium is trilingual and the language ...
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  • 242

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