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Marie-Louise von Franz and Fairy Tales

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Von Franz, one of the most renowned authorities on fairytales, presents a systematic and wide-ranging approach. She amplifies a variety of fairytale motifs to show that the magical realm is alien to the profane and mundane realm of ordinary daily life. She was one of Analytical Psychology’s most original thinkers and here she presents a lucid, concise exploration of the archetypal symbols found in fairytales.

Fairytales, like myths, provide a cultural and societal backdrop that helps the human imagination narrate the meaning of life’s events. The remarkable similarities in fairytale motifs across different lands and cultures inspired many scholars to search for the original homeland of fairytales. While peregrinations of fairytale motifs occur, the common root of fairytales is more archetypal than geographic. A striking feature of fairytales is that a sense of space, time, and causality is absent. This situates them in a magical realm, a land of the soul, where the most interesting things happen in the center of places like Heaven, mountains, lakes, and wells.

Marie-Louise von Franz

At the age of eighteen, Marie-Louise von Franz was invited to meet Carl Gustav Jung at Bolingen Tower. She immediately recognized that there exist two levels of reality, one outer and the other inner. Within months she had enrolled at the University of Zürich and began attending Jung’s lectures at the E.T.H. (Eidgenösiche Technische Hochshule or the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). Less than a decade after meeting Jung, von Franz had completed her doctorate in classical philology and begun seeing her first analysands. She was a prolific writer, a dedicated teacher and lecturer, and was possessed of a “far-reaching and often non discriminating Eros that accepted everyone seeking help.” (Alfred Ribi, MD in Fountain of the Love of Wisdom, Chiron, 2006)

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