Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy Criticism - Essay

Renée Riese Hubert (essay date fall 1963)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hubert, Renée Riese. “Poetic Humor in Madame d'Aulnoy's Fairy Tales.” L'Esprit Createur 3, no. 3 (fall 1963): 123-29.

[In the following essay, Hubert discusses d'Aulnoy's use of humor in her fairy tales, including humor directed toward the genre itself.]

Perrault, the famous author of Ma Mère l'Oye, so skillfully imitated the apparent simplicity of folklore that the underlying sophistication of his tales can easily be overlooked. Perrault's aristocratic contemporaries, Mme d'Aulnoy, Mme Murat, Mlle de La Force do not even require the services of an imaginary homespun narrator. They show fondness for detailed descriptions and contempt for straight...

(The entire section is 3168 words.)

Melvin D. Palmer (essay date summer 1975)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Palmer, Melvin D. “Madame d'Aulnoy in England.” Comparative Literature XXVII, no. 3 (summer 1975): 237-53.

[In this essay, Palmer details the reception of d'Aulnoy's writings in England, focusing on her travel narratives and memoirs.]

In the fourteen years from 1690 to 1703, Marie-Cathérine Jumelle de Barneville, Mme d'Aulnoy, wrote ten works that were translated into English by 1721 and came to occupy an important place in the history of French-English prose fiction in the formative years that saw the rise of the modern novel.1 These include three pseudo-autobiographical accounts of travel translated as The Lady's Travels into Spain,...

(The entire section is 6535 words.)

Jane Tucker Mitchell (essay date 1978)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Mitchell, Jane Tucker. “Style and Humor.” In A Thematic Analysis of Mme. d'Aulnoy's Contes de fées, pp. 110-23. University, Miss.: Romance Monographs, 1978.

[In the essay below, Mitchell outlines the major characteristics of d'Aulnoy's style in her fairy tales, including the personification of animals and other aspects of the natural world, wordplay, and the use of rhythmic repetition.]

The themes of love and metamorphosis, coupled with an insight into the manners of seventeenth-century France as revealed in Mme. d'Aulnoy's Contes des fées, are enhanced by her imaginative style, her unusual vocabulary and her natural flow of language. Edmond Pilon,...

(The entire section is 5099 words.)

Michèle L. Farrell (essay date fall 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Farrell, Michèle L. “Celebration and Repression of Feminine Desire in Mme d'Aulnoy's Fairy Tale: La Chatte blanche.L'Esprit Createur XXIX, no. 3 (fall 1989): 52-64.

[In this essay, Farrell questions the power of d'Aulnoy's tales to subvert gender stereotypes.]

Mme d'Aulnoy's Contes des Fées (1698) can be read as a register of aristocratic feminine desire inscribed against a sober charting of privileged woman's place in the social order at the end of the 17th Century.1 Her “wish-fulfilling narratives” afford an intimate glimpse of woman imaging herself in the veiled security of the marvelous and suggest discrete early answers...

(The entire section is 5417 words.)

D. J. Adams (essay date autumn 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Adams, D. J. “The ‘Contes de Fées’ of Madame d'Aulnoy: Reputation and Re-evaluation.” Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 76, no. 3 (autumn 1994): 5-22.

[In the following essay, Adams gives an overview of socio-cultural themes in d'Aulnoy's fairy tales in order to demonstrate that modern critics have wrongly classified them as merely children's literature.]

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, and for much of the eighteenth, the contes de fées enjoyed great success, particularly in France and England. While they were to some extent neglected during the intervening period, they have benefited in recent years from...

(The entire section is 8489 words.)

Adrienne E. Zuerner (essay date 1997)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Zuerner, Adrienne E. “Reflections on the Monarchy in d'Aulnoy's Belle-Belle ou le chevalier Fortuné.” In Out of the Woods: The Origins of the Literary Fairy Tale in Italy and France, edited by Nancy L. Canepa, pp. 194-217. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997.

[In this essay, Zuerner considers d'Aulnoy's depiction of masculinity, focusing on the story of a cross-dressed girl in Belle-Belle ou le chevalier Fortuné.]

One of the principal creators of the literary fairy tale in seventeenth-century France, Mme d'Aulnoy was one of the most read and appreciated writers during her lifetime.1 Author of an impressive corpus of fairy tales,...

(The entire section is 11054 words.)

Anne E. Duggan (essay date April 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Duggan, Anne E. “Feminine Genealogy, Matriarchy, and Utopia in the Fairy Tale of Marie-Catherine D'Aulnoy.” Neophilologus 82, no. 2 (April 1998): 199-208.

[In the essay below, Duggan argues that d'Aulnoy created a fairy-tale version of salon culture in her stories as a means of envisioning a utopian space for aristocratic women.]

The rise of Louis XIV's absolutist regime marks the fall of both the nobility of the sword and the précieuses of the salons. Over the course of the seventeenth century, all hopes of retaining a feudal or feudal-like order were lost; consequently, the nobility lost the legitimate foundation of its political, social and...

(The entire section is 4615 words.)

Anne L. Birberick (essay date 1999)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Birberick, Anne L. “Fatal Curiosity: d'Aulnoy's ‘Le Serpentin vert.’” Papers in French Seventeenth-Century Literature XXVI, no. 51 (1999): 283-88.

[In this essay, Birberick looks at d'Aulnoy's adaptation of the classical story of Psyche and Cupid in the fairy tale “Le serpentin vert.”]

The word curiosité calls to mind the idea of an intense, at times uncontrollable passion for knowledge. As the Dictionnaire universel informs us “[le curieux est] celuy qui veut tout savoir & tout apprendre”. Yet the desire to know and to learn is not always portrayed in a positive light, for the same dictionary also makes a distinction between...

(The entire section is 2671 words.)

Shirley Jones Day (essay date 1999)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Day, Shirley Jones. “Tracing Out New Paths: Madame d'Aulnoy.” In The Search for Lyonnesse: Women's Fiction in France, 1670-1703, pp. 169-239. Bern, Germany: Peter Lang, 1999.

[In this excerpt, Day studies d'Aulnoy's first novel, Histoire d'Hypolite, Comte du Duglas, in the context of women's fiction after Marie-Madeleine de Lafayette, author of the influential novel La princess de Clèves (1678).]

The case of Mme d'Aulnoy is perhaps the most perplexing of the three women novelists, followers of Mme de Lafayette, who are studied here. Her life, with its supposed scandals, was the object of a serious biographical study published over seventy...

(The entire section is 10259 words.)

Anne E. Duggan (essay date 2001)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Duggan, Anne E. “Nature and Culture in the Fairy Tale of Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy.” Marvels and Tales 15, no. 2 (2001): 149-67.

[In the following essay, Duggan examines the tales “The Bee and the Orange Tree” and “Gracieuse et Percinet” to consider how d'Aulnoy employs cultural notions about women's nature.]

Fairy tales of late-seventeenth-century France are replete with images of nature. Stories often take place in forests and idyllic gardens serving as the backdrop for the actions of animal-like characters, as well as princes and princesses momentarily metamorphosed into animals. At the same time, these tales put forth ideals of behavior that seem...

(The entire section is 9031 words.)

Holly Tucker (essay date 2002)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Tucker, Holly. “Fairies, Midwives, and Birth Spaces in the Tales of Madame D'Aulnoy.” In Classical Unities: Place, Time, Action, edited by Erec R. Koch, pp. 89-94. Tübingen, Germany: Gunter Narr Verlag, 2002.

[In this essay, Tucker draws a parallel between the depiction of fairies in d'Aulnoy's fairy tales and contemporary beliefs about midwives.]

In oral and literary contes de fées, fairies are no strangers to the drama of birth. Fairies do more than attend the birth scene in these tales, they also orchestrate every stage of reproduction. They predict conception and, if angry, cast spells of infertility. They determine the circumstances and the...

(The entire section is 2417 words.)