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The Illustrated Perrault's Tales in 19th Century France: How a Collection for Children Evolved (Agnes Lhermitte)

This article explains how the illustrated French editions of 19th century collections of Perrault’s Tales have been gradually adapted to a child readership and how they contributed to the development of this genre. In most of editions, titles, frontispieces and prefaces claimed that the tales were made for children and tried to convince parents of their benefits. But how could Perrault’s ambiguous tales, in which the morality of self-interest and cruelty frequently triumphed, be adapted to fit in with contemporary ideology (Catholic catechism and bourgeois family)? Text and moral messages were often revised, and illustrations affected in the same way. Contrary to the Enlightenment’s rationalism and positivist spirit, many editors like Jules Hetzel argued in favour of the educational function of fantasy. The illustrators thus represent the child’s point of view: dream, details, dramatisation, humour.

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