Henri Pourrat and the Tradition of Perrault and the Brothers Grimm

  • Jack Zipes


In their endeavors to assess the significance of Henri Pourraťs remarkable collection of tales, Le Trésor des Contes (The Treasury of Tales), published in thirteen volumes between 1948–1962, numerous critics have placed Pourrat in the tradition of Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. For instance, Maurice Bémol has remarked:

Like that of the Brothers Grimm, Henri Pourraťs effort was in effect concentrated on the tale [conte]. Like them he incorporated all sorts of proverbs, sentences, expressions, refrains, and small poems, but it was the tale that served to frame those other products of folk culture and that was the principal preoccupation of the author… . Within the total corpus of their work, the Brothers Grimm and Pourrat brought together an aesthetic preoccupation with a documentary and scientific one… . Henri Pourrat was also just as much attached as his German predecessors to what they called fidelity to the folk tradition in spirit as well as in word.1


Oral Tradition Fairy Tale Common People Literary Tradition Folk Tradition 
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  1. 1.
    Maurice Bémol, “Henri Pourrat et ‘Le Trésor des Contes,’” Annales Universitatis Saraviensis 10 (1961): 180–181.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Mark J. Temmer, “Henri Pourrat’s ‘Trésor des Contes,’” French Review 38 (October, 1964): 46.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Henri Pourrat, Contes du vieux-vieux temps, ed. Michel Chrestien (Paris: Gallimard, 1970). See preface by Chrestien, 7–16.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Henri Pourrat, Les fées, ed. Claire Pourrat (Paris: Gallimard, 1983), 11.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Henri Pourrat, Le Trésor des Contes, vol. 5 (Paris: Gallimard, 1954), 277.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    The best study of Pourrat’s life and work is Bernadette Bricout, Le Savoir et la saveur: Henri Pourrat et Le Trésor des contes (Paris: Gallimard, 1992). Interestingly, one of the first portrayals of his life and writings was by Arno Ringelmann, a German, who was interested in the racial and folk aspects of Pourrat’s early works. See Henri Pourrat: Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Littérature terrienne” (Würzburg: Kilian, 1936). Depending on one’s viewpoint, one could translate “littérature terrienne” as “blood and soil” or local color literature.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cf. Sylvia Mittler, “Le jeune Henri Pourrat: de Barrès et Bergson à l’âme rustique,” Travaux de Lingustique et de Littérature 15 (1977): 193–215.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    See Henri Pourrat, Contes (Paris: Gallimard, 1987).Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Henri Pourrat, A Treasury of French Tales, trans. Mary Mian (London: Allen & Unwin, 1953).Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    Henri Pourrat, French Folktales, trans. Royall Tyler (New York: Pantheon, 1989).Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    Mikhail M. Bakhtin, “The Problem of Speech Genres,” in Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, trans. Vern W. McGee and ed. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas, 1986), 60–102. Hereafter page references cited in the text.Google Scholar
  12. 16.
    With regard to the mutual influences and dialogue, there have been two interesting studies concerned with Perrault’s influence on the Grimms. See Harry Veiten, “The Influence of Charles Perrault’s Contes de ma Mère L’Oie on German Folklore,” Germanic Review 5 (1930): 14–18,Google Scholar
  13. and Rolf Hagen, “Perraults Märchen und die Brüder Grimm,” Deutsche Philologie 74 (1955): 392–410.Google Scholar
  14. 17.
    Jacques Barchilon, Perraulťs Tales of Mother Goose: The Dedication Manuscript of 1695 reproduced in collotype Facsimile with Introduction and Critical Text (New York: The Pierpont Morgan Library, 1956).Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    Marc Soriano, Les Contes de Perrault: Culture et traditions populaires (Paris: Gallimard, 1968).Google Scholar
  16. 19.
    Raymonde Robert, Le conte des fées littéraire en France de la fin du XVIIe à la fin du XVIIIe siècle (Nancy: Presses Universitaires de Nancy, 1982).Google Scholar
  17. 20.
    Lewis Seifert, Fairy Tales, Sexuality, and Gender in France, 1690–1715: Nostalgic Utopias (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1996).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 21.
    Catherine Velay-Vallantin, “Le miroir des contes: Perrault dans les Bibliothèques bleues,” in Les usages de l’imprimé, ed. Roger Chartier (Paris: Fayard, 1987), 129–185.Google Scholar
  19. 22.
    Cf. Jack Zipes, “Les origines italiennes du conte de fées: Basile et Straparola,” in Il était une foisles contes de fées, ed. Olivier Piffault (Paris: Seuil, 2001), 66–74.Google Scholar
  20. 29.
    Heinz Rölleke, ed., Kinder- und Hausmärchen, vol. 1 (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1980), 258. My translation.Google Scholar
  21. 31.
    Pourrat, Contes de la Bucheronne (Tours: Maison Marne, 1935), 184.Google Scholar
  22. 32.
    Pourrat, Les Fées (Paris: Gallimard, 1983), 49.Google Scholar
  23. 33.
    Pourrat, Le Trésor des Contes, vol. 3 (Paris: Gallimard, 1951), 281–222.Google Scholar

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© Jack Zipes 2002

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  • Jack Zipes

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