Journal Article

Myths of Innocence and Imagination: The Case of the Fairy Tale

Jeanette Sky

in Literature and Theology

Volume 16, issue 4, pages 363-376
Published in print December 2002 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online December 2002 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/16.4.363
Myths of Innocence and Imagination: The Case of the Fairy Tale

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During the nineteenth century both fairy tales and childhood came to represent an elevated imaginary state. Placing the child in an Edenic state of innocence, the Romantics and later the Victorians created a powerful, but also problematic myth of childhood. In heralding fairy tales as imaginative and original stories that reveal ultimate truths of human nature, the Romantics contributed to the naturalising specific of patriarchal ideologies. In guise of the aesthetic program of Romanticism we find ideologies concerning both gender and social class that are not always liberating. Transforming earlier religious myths and ideologies, the Romantics created a new myth of original innocence in contrast to the myth of original sin. The child became the sacrosanct image of innocence opposed to the fallen adult. It is this myth the modern world has inherited, a myth as complex as it is fascinating.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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