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Having a ball with fairytales; Views of the North.

I NOTED, with interest, that a lecturer in English from Newcastle University registered with surprise that Grimm's Fairy Tales had not been included in Humanity's Ten Most Valuable Books. Then the fairytale Cinderella was mentioned.

The story of Cinderella is a story in itself as it has a life of its own.

The first collection of fairytales in Europe was published by an Italian, Giovanni Straparola, in 1550, and included the story of Puss In Boots.

The Frenchman Charles Perrault (1628-1703) published a collection which included Cinderella and Red Riding Hood. Then came the Grimms.

Readers maybe surprised to know that there are several hundred versions of Cinderella. The story was first recorded in writing in Europe in 1558, but recorded in China 700 years earlier. There is also a Russian version which resembles the various versions recorded in China, Indo-China and Egypt.

Nobody knows whether the Cinderella story first went from China to Europe, or from Europe to China, or whether it was first told in Egypt or India and then went east and west.

On a personal basis, I have always had misgivings about some fairytales and nursery rhymes. I advise parents of young children to stand back and analyse them objectively. Many are full of gruesome events, such as murder, decapitation, people being boiled or eaten alive and other types of cruelty. What effect does this have on the mind of the developing child? Yet this is the traditionally recommended intellectual pabulum we give to young children. Cinderella, however, is an optimistic story.

If an author today wrote children's books in a similar vein, his works would never see the light of day, they would be banned and so would he.

JACK FLETCHER, Chopwell

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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Dec 8, 2014
Words:287
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