Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Wonder Tale

In her introduction to Wonder Tales: Six Stories of Enchantment (anth 1994), Marina Warner argues for the use of "wonder tales" as an umbrella term to cover Folktales, Fairytales, Märchen and other categories of story that celebrate the world as magical. Some of these categories are oral; others, like the literary fairytales assembled in Wonder Tales itself are highly selfconscious types of written literature. The term in fact dates back at least to the late 19th century.

Making the best of a bad distinction, Jack Zipes, in his introduction to Spells of Enchantment: The Wondrous Fairy Tales of Western Culture (anth 1991; vt The Penguin Book of Western Fairy Tales 1993 UK), suggests that the term WT best describes earlier, oral forms of the tale of enchantment, and that, while "many oral wonder tales had been concerned with the humanization of natural forces, the literary fairytale, beginning with Cupid and Psyche, shifted the emphasis more toward the civilization of the protagonist", and toward his or her making a life in a social world. Zipes's choice of subtitle does, however, give the game away. [JC]

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.