Beyond Literary Landscapes—A Brief Overview of Fables, Folk Tales, Fairy Tales, and Everything In-Between

Beyond Literary Landscapes—A Brief Overview of Fables, Folk Tales, Fairy Tales, and Everything In-Between

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


This week’s column focuses on providing readers with a brief overview of fables, folk tales, fairy tales, and everything in-between in this expansive genre.


Some notable fables, folk tales, fairy tales, and critiques include Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc, Aesop’s Fables, the works of The Brothers Grimm, the works of Hans Christian Andersen, Arabian Nights and Days by Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz, and the collected works of One Thousand and One Nights.

In particular, some notable works of The Brothers Grimm include “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Rapunzel” and “Hansel and Gretel.”  For those who would like to learn more about Aesop, famed works include “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” “The Wolf and the Crane,” and “The Tortoise and the Hare.” In the case of Hans Christian Andersen, readers may enjoy “The Little Mermaid,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Snow Queen,” and “The Princess and the Pea.”  As for One Thousand and One Nights, some famous tales include “Aladdin and The Magic Lamp,” “The Merchant and the Jinnee,” “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.”


These works are set throughout North Africa, East, West, and South Asia, Egypt, ancient Greece, Canada, the United States, and Denmark.


These works take place from the 5 century BCE all the way to the 17 and 21-centuries.


These works may be of interest to AU students who would like to learn more about the historical evolution of fairy tales, fables, and folk tales, as well as those who would like to understand their prevalence and influence in modern culture.  In addition, the lessons of these tales remain applicable to today’s challenges.  Finally, students may also be interested in deconstructing this topic, and examining the problematic aspects of this genre, especially as it relates to disability.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to fables, folk tales, fairy tales, and everything in-between are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in this topic may consider enrolling in ENGL 305: Literature for Children, a senior-level, six-credit course, which “introduces the student to children’s literature, its history and development, and its rich variety of forms and techniques.”  (Students should note that this course requires ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays as prerequisites.)  Happy reading!