Heap of tales: the different types of tales

As you may have noticed (or not), there are different types of tales including wonderful tales (fairy tales) which are the most famous. But where do all these tales come from?

The tale and the short story

We tend already to mix tale and novella.

Both are short stories. If we speak of words to qualify the novella, the English would say “a short story ” and the American uses the term “ a short fiction ”. For Italian, it is “racconto " (narrated story) but also created the term "novella", in Latin " novellae " (new stories). For the word in Spanish, it is called tale but without distinguishing between tale and novella.

In history, the first collection of short stories would be Italian, Straparola's “The facetious nights” published in 1550 in Venice with the 73 stories called fables. It is in fact a mixture of what we can call today the tales - fictitious stories and the novella - fictitious stories which borrow from reality and pretend to be truthful. This shows that the distinction is thin, fragile. There are therefore the concepts of realism for the novella and the marvellous for the tale which will not necessarily oppose each other but combine in a “marvellous realist” or a “realism of the marvellous ". It is the peculiarity of fiction to have these subtle mixtures between what comes from reality and what comes from the imagination.




The definition of the tale

According to Louis Timbal -Duclaux, there are 5 criteria for the definition of the tale =

- It is a work most often written in prose (although Charles Perrault and La Fontaine wrote tales in verse).

·- The tale tells stories, human adventures in the form of a narrative. Contrary to myths, the tale does not tell facts of the gods and their heroes.

- The tale has a popular origin coming from oral transmission

- Its purpose is to educate , while entertaining , parents and children.

- It is a story which brings in supernatural powers and which tends towards the fantastic, the marvelous like talking animals, ...


However, there are different types of tales.


The different kinds of tales

I have listed them and you certainly know several styles ...

Wonderful tales or fairy tales

They start with a magic formula like “Once upon a time ", do not stick to the rules of plausibility: animals speak, objects have magical powers. They are inhabited by stereotypical characters: kings, queens, princes and princesses, magicians, fairies, etc.

Tales express the difficulties of the human condition. They are oriented towards the triumph of the main hero (prince or princess, knight, brothers and sisters…) contain a moral or a message at the end of the story.


The facetious or comical tales

They operate on the register of humour and feature a character chosen for his qualities of cunning and malice. The latter plays a good trick on another character chosen for his faults.


Picaresque Novel

These tales are sequences both rigid and poetic, which, after a journey, bring us back to the starting point so that everything returns to order. They are characterized by their repetitive form which proceeds from the enumeration. It is an initiation into the poetry of language, the richness of the vocabulary, the variety of narrative structures.


Etiological Tales, these Tales of Why (Muriel Bloch!)

They provide fictitious and poetic explanations on the origin of plants, animals or stars. Their approach is scientific at the outset because based on observation, however the theories proposed are fanciful. To provide proof, anything is allowed and especially bad faith.


Animal tales

These are tales that only feature animals. The characters are domestic animals and wild beasts who are gifted with speech. They behave like humans, whilst retaining certain characteristics specific to their animal nature. These characters are very close to us, which promotes adherence to the story and the possibility of identification.

Modern Tales

It is the introduction of the marvellous in a modern context. Modern tales are attributed to a single author and have only one version. The characters are not stereotyped there, unlike the marvellous.



Sophrological tales

They are tales, short stories with aims and sophrological intentionality. They provide access to the benefits of sophrology through relaxation, visualizations, concentration, breathing and bodily movements that can be performed during the story telling.

The stories are short, positive and allow the listener to access relaxation, a return to oneself and more positiveness, to discover their capacities. They can be aimed at children, adolescents and adults. For example, they allow better management of emotions, sleep and stress and can help to prepare

I know them well too…. ☺ There are already many on the site for free download here .


Therapeutic tales

It's the only genre so far that I haven't experienced… but that may change. So what is a therapeutic tale?

Long used in traditional oriental medicine, therapeutic tales expose a real situation displaced in an imaginary context.

As in traditional tales, children and adults alike can identify with the hero or heroine, while having the impression that they are not specifically spoken of. Although the story is about other children or other adults, they will be able to imagine the situations described from their own experiences.

Therapeutic tales are recommended to cope with difficult times. They are designed in such a way as to help you get through the challenges of everyday life. They often use symbols and metaphors and do not directly address rational, analytical functions. The fact of not privileging the intellectual faculties (analysis of the situation, explanations of the behaviour, answering the “Why?” questions …) makes it possible to better answer questions of an emotional nature.

Thus these tales, according to Jacques Salomé – psycho-sociologist, lecturer, author - have “this power to touch several registers in us simultaneously, to reactivate our unconscious, to stimulate the memory of our forgetfulness, to arouse another look, another listening, to be carriers of creative energy”.

Still according to Jacques Salomé, this type of tales can thus cure a symptom, modify or transform a relationship experienced as unsatisfactory or painful. But these tales can also restore conflicting links and bring a change in a way of being.


There you have it, you have seen all the tales and their genres, lots of tales to entertain you, help you get better or heal you. It is possible to go from one to the other, to love or not to love… You have the freedom, you have this freedom so enjoy reading…


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