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Tales of Enchantment and Disenchantment

A History of Faerie, with an Exemplary Anthology of Tales
by Brian Stableford

Short Stories

The Contes de fées, defined here as tales that contain fées, i.e.: “fays” (as opposed to “fairies,” which in British literary history referred to imaginary entities often different from the French fées), were invented by aristocratic women of the 17th century, such as Madame d’Aulnoy, the Comtesse de Murat, Madame Leprince de Beaumont, etc.

In making visible the operations of the human heart, they also did so with their torments, fears and resentments: the tightly-laced corset of social convention, the catastrophe of arranged marriages; the tyranny and frequent brutality of those in legal control of their lives and fortunes.

Such aspects of everyday life were exaggerated by the conventions of the genre: the princesses were the most beautiful in the world, or the ugliest; the prisons in which they were contained were inaccessibly tall towers or lightless subterrains, often guarded by dragons; their captors were ogres, hags or giants, often addicted to setting them impossible tasks to complete, under the threat of dire punishment. And the fantasies of their salvation were exaggerated in consequence, beyond all reasonable expectation: the magic wand of a good fay, and, perhaps even more implausibly, the trustworthy love of a good man.

Since the 1970s, there has been a spectacular increase in the popularity of a kind of fantasy that has revivified many of the imaginative materials previously developed in the contes de fées, and they can now be seen as a key link in a strand of imaginative literature that extends forwards from Classical literature and Medieval Romance all the way to a significant sector of contemporary literary production, and its extensions into visual media, connected not merely by the complex transference of imagery, but by the underlying psychology of composition and consumption. In order to understand modern fantasy fully, it is therefore necessary to understand its roots in previous literary genres, and one of the most important is the conte de fées.

This volume also includes 38 exemplary stories sampled from 1696 to 1914, forming the most complete anthology devoted to the History of the Faerie to-date.

A History of Faerie by Brian Stableford
The Culture of Literary Salons
The Invention of Contes de Fées
The Initial Publication of Contes de Fées
The Fall of the Empire of the Fays
The Work of the Major Writers
Fellow Travelers
The Contraband Renaissance
The Decadence of the Fays
Voices in the Wilderness
The Afterglow.
Further Reading

An Anthology of Exemplary Tales
Part I: 1696-1715
Paradigms 1696-1697

Marie-Jeanne L’Héritier: The Enchantments of Eloquence; Or, The Effects of Mildness
Charles Perrault: The Beauty in the Dormant Wood
Henriette-Julie de Murat: Perfect Love
Charlotte-Rose Caumont de La Force: More Beautiful than a Fay
Explorers 1697-1698
Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy: Green Worm.
Henriette-Julie de Murat: The Prince of Leaves
Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy: Princess Belle-Etoile and Prince Cheri
Henriette-Julie de Murat: The Isle of Magnificence
The Story of Princess Blanchette and Prince Verdelet
The Story of Grandimont, King of the Arsacides, and Princess Philomele
Fellow Travelers 1697-1715
Catherine Bernard: The Rose-Bush Prince
François Fénelon: The Story of King Alfaroute and Clariphile
Jean de Préchac: The Queen of the Fays
Chevalier de Mailly: The Magician King
Catherine Durand: The Fay Lubantine
Author Unknown: Princess Patientine in the Forest of Erimente

Part II: 1716-1788
The Contraband Renaissance 1716-1750

Author Unknown: The Flying Ship
Louise Cavelier: The Invisible Prince
Attributed to Catherine de Lintot: Tendrebrun and Constance
Marie-Madeleine de Lubert: Princess Camion
Philippe de Caylus: Princess Azerolle; Or, Excessive Constancy
Carl Gustaf Tessin: Faunillane; Or, The Yellow Child
Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont: Prince Fatal and Prince Fortunate
Charles Duclos: Acajou and Zirphile
The Decadence of the Fays 1751-1788
Author Unknown: Cornichon and Toupette
Attributed to Marie-Antoinette Fagnan: Minet-Bleu and Louvette
Marianne-Agnès Falques: Durboulour; Or, The Benevolent Lioness
Nicolas Bricaire de Dixmerie: Lindor and Delie
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Queen Fantasque
Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni: The Blind Man
Nicolas Edme Restif de la Bretonne: Sireneh

Part III: After the Revolution.
Voices in the Wilderness 1790-1870

Pierre-Alexis Ponson du Terrail: The Fay: A Christmas Story
Sophie Rostopchine de Ségur: The Little Gray Mouse
Édouard Laboulaye: The Castle of Life
Charles Baudelaire: The Gifts of the Fays
The Afterglow 1871-1914
Catulle Mendès: The Last Fay
Jean Lorrain: Melusine Enchanted
Catulle Mendès: Prince Lys and the Wave of Snow
Frédéric Boutet: The Valley Named Solitude
Anatole France: The Story of the Duchesse de Cicogne and Monsieur de Boulingrin, Who Slept For a Hundred Years in the Company of the Beauty in the Dormant Wood

Cover by Mike Hoffman

Published by Black Coat Press in March 2019
ISBN: 978-1-61227-838-4

The Brian Stableford Website