Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

(plural Märchen) The word used in Germanic literature, and adopted into English, to describe the Fairytale in the widest sense. The word is often linked as Volksmärchen, meaning Folktales, stories drawn from oral tradition. One of the earliest collectors of such stories was Johann Musäus, with Volksmärchen der Deutschen ["German Folktales"] (1782-1787 5 vols). The Germans created the word Wundermärchen (Wonder Tale) to describe those fairytales involving the supernatural and drawing on the same mythic or folkloristic roots but set in a Secondary World or a timeless past. Although not describing them as such, Ludwig Tieck developed the Wundermärchen in his stories collected as Volksmärchen (omni 1797). The primary German example of the Kunstmärchen, or Literary Fairytale, is "Das Märchen" (1795) by Goethe. When the Grimm Brothers came to collect their Folktales aimed at the public rather than academics, they called their first collection Kinder- und Hausmärchen ["Folktales for Children and the Home"] (coll 1812; trans variously as German Popular Stories). The Märchen has continued to be a popular form of story in German literature. [MA]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.