Charles Perrault

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Charles Perrault
Charles Perrault
Portrait (detail) by Philippe Lallemand, 1672
Birthday/Birthplace (1628-01-12)12 January 1628
Paris, France
Deceased 16 May 1703(1703-05-16)
Paris, France
Genre Fairy tale
Notable works “The Sleeping Beauty”
“Little Red Riding Hood”
“Puss in Boots”

Charles Perrault (Paris, January 12, 1628 – ibid, May 16, 1703) was a French writer, mainly recognized for having given literary form to classic children’s tales such as Ass Skin, Tom Thumb, Blue Beard, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and The Cat in Boots, tempering in many cases the rawness of the oral versions.

Charles Perrault’s Biography

He was born on January 12, 1628 in the city of Paris, through a double delivery, in which his twin Francois (who died at six months) also came into the world.

His family, belonging to the wealthy bourgeoisie (his father was a lawyer in Parliament), made it possible for him to have a good childhood and attend the best schools of the time. He entered the college of Beauvais in 1637, where he discovers his facility for dead languages.

From 1643 he began to study law. Undoubtedly skillful and with a notorious practical sense, he receives the protection of his older brother Pierre, who is a general collector. In 1654 he was appointed official to work in the government service.

He participated in the creation of the Academy of Sciences and in the restoration of the Painting Academy. He never fought against the system, which facilitated his survival in a politically convulsive France and in which favorites fell too often.

His life, always dedicated to study, left little room for fantasy. In his first book The Walls of Troy, of 1661, nothing childish is shown, as can be seen in the content of the work. This is because throughout his bureaucratic and boring existence as a privileged official, what he wrote most were odes, speeches, dialogues, poems and works that flattered the king and princes, which earned him a life full of honors , that he knew how to take advantage of.

He was secretary of the French Academy from 1663, becoming the protege of Colbert, the famous counselor of Louis XIV, until in 1665 he progresses in his labor category becoming the first of the royal officials, which means great prebends .

He extends his good fortune to his relatives, obtaining in 1667 that the planes with which the Observatory of the King is built belong to his brother Claude.

He was appointed academic in 1671 and the following year he married Marie Guichon. He is elected Chancellor of the Academy and in 1673 he becomes the Librarian of it. That same year his first son was born, a girl, and then, in the interval that goes from 1675 to 1678, he has three more children and his wife dies after the birth of the last one.

In 1680, Perrault has to give up his privileged position of first officer to the son of Colbert. To these disappointments are added later others of a literary – scholarly nature, such as the famous controversy that separates him from Boileau, on the subject of a divergence of opinions that is reflected in his critical work: Parallel of the Elders and Modernists, in which contemplate the Arts and Sciences.

In 1687 he wrote the poem The century of Louis the Great and in 1688 Comparison between ancient and modern, a plea in favor of the “modern” writers and against the traditionalists.

The illustrious author wrote a total of 46 works, eight of them published posthumously, among which is Memorias de mi vida. With the exception of children’s stories, all his work is composed mostly of loas to the King of France.

At age 55 he wrote Cuentos del pasado, better known as Cuentos de mamá ganso (for the image that illustrated his cover) – published in 1697-where most of his most famous stories are found. It is these and not others who have managed to overcome the time coming to us with the same freshness and spontaneity with which they were written, after compiling oral tradition or legends of exotic origin. These are moral stories, undoubtedly, but full of a charm that lasts and that has made them the favorite readings of children.

The characters he employs are fairies, ogres, talking animals, witches, princesses and enchanted princes, among others. At the end of each story, the author includes a moral teaching concerning the content of each story. The writer recorded the customs of an era in which most were dissatisfied with their situation and, to give hope to people in a historical period, usually included happy endings in their writings.

More Facts about Charles Perrault

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