Collingwood, Fairy Tales and Totemism: a historical study on the origins of European religion (and society)

This paper suggests that Collingwood's fairy tales writings can be read as a historical study on the origins of European religion. His interest in fairy tales belongs to a clear tradition, whose members include John Ruskin, Benedetto Croce and most importantly Giambattista Vico, that realised the potential of fairy tales as evidence for historical knowledge. In this context fairy tales should be understood as myths that are not symbols but truthful, poetically expressed, narrations of the lives and societies of past people. Furthermore the connection of certain of those myths with religion was also recognised as an important element. Collingwood in his fairy tales study extends and clarifies this line of inquiry. He interprets certain themes of fairy tales as myths, suggesting that the origins of European religion and society can be detected in the totemistic beliefs of the pre-Neolithic people
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