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Contes Bleus

tales, fairy and moral

CONTES BLEUS, taint' hie' (Etlue Tales). The (Contes bleus' of Edouard Laboulaye are stories, mainly fairy tales, from various sources, including the invention of the author, which owe their charm not merely to the material of folk-lore that they contain and to the stamp of the popular imagination that it bears, but also and in larger measure to the alert, graceful and good-humored style in which they are told. For Laboulaye was really uery far from the naive popular imagination °in which fairy tales were born,4and even in retelling authentic ones he slips in many a mischievous thrust at the weaknesses of poor human nature, maw a satirical reflection on social and political insti tutions, and often comes dangerously near pointing a moral. Indeed he distinctly recom mends the reading of fairy tales for children for their moral value. °There is often more moral stuff in a fairy tale,* he says, °than in all the history of Rome. They were born of

the wisdom of the race." In proportion as he draws more on his own invention, the marvelous becomes the transparent maslc of whimsical satire directed against the vices and foibles of men and informed by the love of free and liberal institutions of which Laboulaye was an ardent defender. By the nimbleness of the mind that plays about the most various themes and touches grave questions with a laugh, by the sparkling wit and the mordant irony, some of these tales might almost be taken for acontes philosophiques" of Voltaire—of a lesser, good-humored Voltaire, without the sneer.

The (Contes bleus) appeared in three vol umes: 'Comes bleus) (1863); (Nouveaux contes bleus) • (1867) ; (Derniers contes bleus' (1883). They have been in part translated by Mary L. Booth under the title Laboulave's 'Fairy Book) (New York 1866).