Fairy tales by German women authors follow two European traditions that set them apart from the Grimms’ Kinder- und Hausmarchen: first, they frequently emulate the moralizing tales of French and Enlightenment literature; and, second, they often present tales framed by other tales and narrative settings, as did the tale cycles in the pre-modern period such as the Thousand and One Nights and the Pentamarone. The fairy-tale novel by Bettina and Gisela von Arnim, Das Leben der Hochgräfin Gritta von Rattenzuhausbeiuns (The Life of the Countess Gritta von Ratsatourhouse, ca. 1843), is the best and most complicated example of the “Chinese box” narrative structure and imbedded social criticism in German women’s fairy tales. This novel deconstructs fairy-tale archetypes of female behavior by rewriting the roles of stepmother, wise women, and nice (brav) little girls. The interlocking narratives criticize patriarchal notions of punishment, particularly punishment of female independence and mobility.
Blackwell, Jeannine. "Laying the Rod to Rest: Narrative Strategies in Gisela and Bettina von Arnim's Fairy-Tale Novel Gritta." Marvels & Tales 11.1 (1997). Web. <http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/marvels/vol11/iss1/3>.