National Dreams: The Remaking of Fairy Tales in Nineteenth-Century England

By Jennifer Schacker | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Conclusion: Dreams

The road to truth is, like the road to fairyland, fraught with perils and re-quires an innocent suspension of disbelief in the self and what it creates. By
translating the work, one translates oneself; the little Arab boy who listened
to the
Thousand and One Nights has become the English storyteller….
What does it matter, so long as he has dreamed, in one Baghdad or an-
other, a dream in the lap of a fairy queen
.1

Husain Haddawy 1990

The truth lies not in one but in many dreams.2
Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1974

English readers of the early to mid-nineteenth century provided a warm reception for collections of foreign folktales. In the case of German Popular Stories, the English enthusiasm for the Grimms’ tales outdid that of German readers and left Jacob and Wilhelm searching for Edgar Taylor’s magic formula. Although Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland was translated into German, it was found most resonant by nineteenthcentury English readers. The Arabian Nights may have found its first European home in France, but it was nineteenth-century Englishmen who most vigorously debated its proper form and the nature of its cultural indexicality. Finally, Popular Tales from the Norse found its most welcoming foreign reception not in Germany—the birthplace of the folktale collection—but in England.

Awestruck, Peter Asbjørnsen wrote to Jacob Grimm on the subject:

Our Norwegian folktales seem to be much more appealing to the English than to the
Germans. At Christmas a new translation was published in Edinburgh and London

-138-

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