Conversation on fairy tales: towards the IBBY-Trieste 2024 Congress

17 April 2024

As the German writer Wilhelm Hauff tells us, the fairy tale unites the most diverse people in friendship: it does so around a fire, in a merchant’s bivouac, in a sheikh’s tent or in the confines of a tavern lost in the forest. And for once, the fairy tale also united two Italian universities through the meeting of students, students and lecturers who, in a very special lecture, gave life to a passionate conversation around the wonderful worlds evoked by Basile, Grimm, Perrault and Afanas’ev. And all this took place under the banner of IBBY, Jella Lepman and the forthcoming International Congress in Trieste.

On Friday 5 April 2024 – i.e. close to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair – early in the morning, students and lecturers from the University of Bologna and the University of Padua took part together in a somewhat surprising event entitled “Conversation on fairy tales: towards the Ibby Trieste 2024 Congress”: two universities, two groups, many strands of research on children’s literature and many questions intertwined in a dialogue in the presence and from afar on a narrative form that is both ancient and contemporary.

In front of a large and attentive audience, they discussed “Beyond the slipper. History and materiality of footwear in European fairy tales” (Marnie Campagnaro – UNIPD), “The Eastern European fairy tale between tradition and avant-garde, between storytelling and illustration” (Dorena Caroli – UNIBO), “The fairy tale as a bridge between peoples: origins, presences, metamorphoses” (William Grandi – UNIBO). The reports were intertwined with many questions from students who were able to stimulate, connect, broaden the flow of thoughts, themes and words. And so the fairy tale appeared grandiose in the humility of its objects: great things, in fact, are hidden in a slipper, a doll, a boot or a little house. The fairy tale has traversed history, made itself the interpreter of emotions, and has in turn opened itself up to numerous interpretations. The fairy tale has become a migrant, it has walked from China, Persia and Russia to arrive in the Black Forest, in the port of Naples or at the court of Versailles, perhaps hidden in the red heels of the Sun King or among the yellowed sheets of a tsarist office. And in all this there is a bit of Jella’s message, there is a bit of her book bridge and her love for stories capable of creating a new coexistence between girls, boys and peoples.