This article reads Madame d’Aulnoy’s late seventeenth-century contes de fées against a cultural backdrop shaped by nascent ideas and ideologies of “race” as informed by early European exploration and travel and by France’s expanding colonial empire. Although colonization has been largely excluded from dominant paradigms of early modern French culture, recent scholarship suggests that it nonetheless figures prominently in the cultural imagination of the period. Building on this scholarship and its attention to the colonial underpinnings of key cultural debates of the early modern period, this article excavates the traces of emergent racial logics in d’Aulnoy’s contes de fées—expressed in the fantastic landscapes of the European imperial imagination, in the ethnographic descriptions of les sauvages in the French Relations des Jésuites de la Nouvelle-France (Jesuit Relations) and other travel writings, in the New World colonial policies of assimilation and Frenchification, and in the early racial typologies beginning to circulate at the end of the seventeenth century. Through these readings, I argue that d’Aulnoy’s contes de fées provide a particularly compelling example of the centrality of race to the development of the fairy tale as a literary genre despite a long genealogy that has completely overlooked its significance.
Lau, Kimberly J.
"Imperial Marvels: Race and the Colonial Imagination in the Fairy Tales of Madame d’Aulnoy,"
Narrative Culture: Vol. 3:
2, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/narrative/vol3/iss2/3