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Puss in Boots Warwick Goble

Puss in Boots, by Warwick Goble (Photo credit: Google)

Magical Cats: Puss in Boots (please click on this link to read the post)

Fairy tales vs Fables

We are revisiting a post. It was first published on 9 November 2011 and it is about Puss in Boots, a “fairy tale” that may well be as old as the world, so to speak. A large number of fairy tales have come down to us either orally (the oral tradition) or in writing (the learned tradition). In fact, fairy tales and fables often weave their way in and out of both traditions, as do fables and they may be “retold.”  So we do not now how old Puss in Boots is, and there are several versions of the tale.

As you probably noted, I have used quotation marks on both sides of fairy tale. The reason for my doing so will become clear as you read my humble blog. However, let me add a few comments.

Fairy tales have conventions: a few examples

  • Fairy tales have a happy ending and such is the case with Puss in Boots.
  • The use of magic is a characteristic of fairy tales. There is magic in Puss in Boots. The Ogre can transform himself;
  • A fairy godmother uses magic to take a Cinderella from rags to riches. There is no fairy godmother in Puss in Boots;
  • Most animals in fairy tales, are toads who return to their original princely self if certain conditions – usually three – are met. For instance, in Charles Perrault‘s Cinderella, a fairy godmother “turned a pumpkin into a golden carriage, mice into horses, a rat into a coachman, and lizards into footmen (see Cinderella, Wikipedia);”
  • In fact, animals are the denizens of fables, not fairy tales. But Puss in Boots is a fairy tale and it features a masterful cat in a genre considered “optimistic” compared to fables. Fables would be “pessimistic” because they are a story where animals are used to teach children a lesson.

The Illustrations

The illustrations I used in my post dated 9 November 2011 are by Fred Marcellino‘s (October 25, 1939-July 12, 2001).  Marcellino’s illustrations of Puss in Boots are delightful. To see other illustrations by Marcellino, see Images, Google. Unfortunately unlike medieval monks, modern illustrators seldom integrate image and text, nor can they reproduce the luminosity of illuminations, but Marcellino was, within the limits of modernity, an extraordinary illustrator. He truly deserved the Caldecott Medal for “the most distinguished picture book for children.” The illustrations of his Puss in Boots are beautifully.

In this blog, I have used an illustration by Warwick Goble (22 November 1862 – 22 January 1943). Illustrations by Goble may be found at artpassion.net and Google.

The Music

Domenico Scarlatti (26 October 1685 – 23 July 1757) wrote a “Cat’s Fugue,” L.499/K. 30 (K for Ralph Kirkpatrick) which I enjoy playing, but in my post on Puss in Boots, I have used a Sonata by Scarlatti – one of his 555 sonatas – because it is beautifully played. It is Scarlatti’s Sonata L.366/K.1 (L for Alessandro Longo) played on the piano by Ivo Pogorelić (born 20 October 1958).

However, at the foot of this post, I have embedded a lovely recording of Scarlatti’s Cat’s Fugue, a sonata.  As for Ivo Pogorelić, he is not in good health. So he goes to bed when the sun sets and rises at five-thirty in the morning.


I will stop here so you may read the above and my revised article.  Next we will see the role a cat such as Puss plays in a fairy tale and ponder Bruno Bettelheim’s conclusions in The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales.  I will not contradict Dr Bettelheim, that would be silly.  However I will use his conclusions, i.e. optimism (fairy tales) vs pessimism (fables), as a theoretical framework.


Domenico Scarlatti (26 October 1685 – 23 July 1757)
The Cat’s Fugue L499, K 30
Anne Queffélec, piano 

Domenico Scarlatti
Domenico Scarlatti
(please click on the image to enlarge it)
© Micheline Walker
24 March 2013