As Freud’s case of the Wolf Man makes evident through its engagement with the story of ‘The Wolf and the Seven Kids’, the Grimms’ fairytales and psychoanalysis are two interconnected frames that have influenced modern understandings of childhood. However, the significance of both sibling relationships and death has been consistently repressed within psychoanalysis, and this can also be observed in patterns of fairy tale interpretation. Recuperating both death and siblinghood for an analysis of childhood may therefore yield valuable insights. Indeed, the likelihood of losing a sibling due to high childhood mortality rates in premodernity might suggest that children were uniquely positioned to apprehend death, since the death of a sibling—one most similar to and yet different from oneself—arguably constitutes the closest possible encounter with one’s own death. The Grimms’ tales may therefore reflect the history of a more intimate relationship between childhood and death than psychoanalytic frameworks have brought to light.
|Title of host publication||Death, Emotion, and Childhood in Premodern Europe|
|Editors||Katie Barclay, Kimberley Reynolds, Ciara Rawnsley|
|Place of Publication||United Kingdom|
|Number of pages||16|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|
|Name||Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood|
Bourgault Du Coudray, C. L. (2016). Childhood Death in Modernity: Fairy Tales, Psychoanalysis, and the Neglected Significance of Siblings. In K. Barclay, K. Reynolds, & C. Rawnsley (Eds.), Death, Emotion, and Childhood in Premodern Europe (pp. 229-244). (Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood). United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-57199-1_12