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Giambattisto Basile

Giambattista Basile (1575–1632) was born near Naples, Italy, and was an accomplished poet, courtier, and feudal administrator. Today he is remembered for The Tale of Tales, the first integral collection of fairy tales published in Europe; it includes the first literary versions of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, and many other classic tale types.

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The Tale of Tales: Italian fairytales come to life in recent translation

The Tale of Tales by Giambattisto Basile (translated by Nancy L. Canepa)

The Tale of Tales is a book of fifty Italian fairy-tales collected by Giambattista Basile in the 17th century. Like the famous Middle-Eastern tale collection 1001 Nights, which is told by the queen Scheherezade, these stories are all connected by a larger frame story, in this case that of the melancholy princess Zoza. Zoza cannot laugh, so her father concocts a trick to amuse her. However, when she does laugh at an old woman, the woman curses her, saying that she can only marry a certain prince by performing a specific task. When Zoza has almost completed her mission and won her love, a Moorish girl steals the prince from her and marries him herself. Zoza then crafts a story-telling competition that lasts five days, with ten different storytellers recounting tales each day. Zoza disguises herself... Read More