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Painting by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842). Modified

A girl is a little princess, her father the king, and her mother or step-mother is the queen. The castle is the home. Homes, parents and siblings can have troubles, but some animals - not all of them - are kind to help. To read tales in this light could bring benefits.

Madame d'Aulnoy's stories were made at a time when young and old women of the high social classes strove to gain attention and admiration by looks and clothing and intrigues . . . Many were trained to be coquettes. It could well be that some did not develop sincere affection and sincere relationships for it. Many folks were extremely vain and strove for aristocrat-looking vainglory when the tales were circulated - and people loved them and took care of them and many may have thought that ideal people were pretty and rich, rich and pretty, and gorgeously dressed up. How artificial it is - here is some American folk wisdom against some such menial attitudes:

  • True worth is in being, not seeming [Mieder et al 1996:46].
  • It is not what he has nor even what he does which directly expresses the worth of a man, but what he is [Mieder et al 1996: 680].
  • Worth has been underrated ever since wealth was overvalued [Mieder et al 1996:680].
  • Success makes a fool seem wise [Mieder et al 1996:571].
  • Deserve success if you wish to command it [Mieder et al 1996:570].

While the rich lived in seeming splendour - without washing themselves - the poor often had very hard times, for they were exploited.

Madame d'Aulnoy (1650/1651 - 1705), also known as Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d'Aulnoy and Countess d'Aulnoy, was a French writer known for her fairy tales. Like a lot of others, she first was a child, then a teenager, and so on. This is how the French teenager made it at a time when nobility ruled France with iron claws, and both treason and false accusations of treason were punished with death:

When she was sixteen she was given in marriage to a Parisian baron and gambler who was thirty years older. They had three children. Then, in 1669 the baron was accused of treason, but the accusations proved to be false. Marie-Catherine's mother fled the country because she was also allegedly involved, but it is not known if Marie-Catherine herself had anything to do with the charges.

Marie-Catherine had three more children and avoided the Paris social scene for twenty years. She later said that she had traveled to Spain with her mother during this period, and later also to England. Some parts of their travels cannot be confirmed, though. Marie-Catherine spent much time on writing stories during their travels.

By 1690, Madame d'Aulnoy had settled in Paris again, and her salon (not saloon) there was visited by leading aristocrats and princes. A salon in those times was a room in the usually large house of a famous or important person, and that room was used for entertaining guests - writers, artists and others guests. Over the next thirteen years the baroness published twelve books and two fairy tale collections. The fairy tales and her adventure stories were her most popular works. She told her stories in a quite conversational style, and the stories were not suitable for children. In consequences, many English adaptations for children are much unlike the original. (Wikipedia, "Madame d'Aulnoy")


The "Colour Fairy Books by Andrew Lang and his helpers is a series of twelve volumes of fairy tales edited by Andrew Lang. Lang's wife and other translators did much of the translating and telling of the actual stories in the series. The present d'Aulnou-collection are culled from the twelve books of the series. The language here is slightly modified. For example, you will not find "the Enchanter", but "the enchanter", for there is no need to write all sorts of nouns with capital letters any longer. People used to do so earlier, but those times are passed. Other modifications have been made too.

Madame d'Aulnoy fairy tales were translated into English earlier still. One translation is from about 1854.


Tales of Mme d'Aulnoi, Literature  

Aulnoy, Madame d' (Marie-Catherine). 1854. Fairy Tales. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Aulnoy, Madame d'. 1856. Fairy Tales. 2nd ed. Tr. J. R. Planché. London: Routledge and Co.

Aulnoy, Madame d'. 1892. The Fairy Tales of Madame d' Aulnoy. Tr. Anne Thackeray Ritchie. London: Lawrence and Bullen.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Blue Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1889.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Red Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1890.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Green Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1892

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Yellow Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1894.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Pink Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1897.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Grey Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1900.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Violet Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1901.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Crimson Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1903.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Brown Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1904.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Orange Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1906.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Olive Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1907.

Lang, Andrew, ed. The Lilac Fairy Book. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1910.

Mieder, Wolfgang (main ed.), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

This selection

Graciosa and Percinet. Gracieuse et Percinet. - Red

The Little Good Mouse. La bonne vetite souris. - Red

The Blue Bird. L'oiseau bleu. - Green

Pretty Goldilocks. - Blue

The Yellow Dwarf. - Blue

The Wonderful Sheep. - Blue

Felicia and the Pot of Pinks. Fortunee. - Blue

The White Cat. La chatte blanche. - Blue

Princess Rosette. - Red

Princess Mayblossom. La princesse printaniere. - Red

The Golden Branch. Le rameau d'or. - Red

The Frog and Lion Fairy. Contes des fees. - Orange

The White Doe. Contes des fees. - Orange

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