No. XXIX (1998)

Flesh and Bones: On Literary and Real Codes in Fairy Tales

Mirjana Detelić
Institute for Balkan Studies, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Published 01.12.1998


  • cliche and formula,
  • encoding realia,
  • human flesh and bone,
  • Serbian fairy tales,
  • Russian fairy tales

How to Cite

Detelić, M. (1998). Flesh and Bones: On Literary and Real Codes in Fairy Tales. Balcanica - Annual of the Institute for Balkan Studies, (XXIX), 269–305. Retrieved from


This paper is dedicated to analysis of efficacy of cliche and formula as means of encoding realia, particularly in case of 'human flesh and bone' motif in Serbian and Russian fairy tales. The present approach is grounded on several prepositions: 1) that structure of fairy tale is complex; 2) that realization of this structure is simple; 3) that the former is possible to achieve by cliche and formula; 4) that fairy tale, as well as oral literary texts in general, is burdened by two dominant codes: a real and a literary 5) that cliche and formula, keeping the same qualities in many different types of application, are successfully used as means of encoding on both levels - the level of realia and the level of literary text. The choice of means and evaluation of their efficacy are specially stressed: cliche offers best results on the level of global organization of sujet ('roasted children' and cannibalism), and formula is the best choice for multilevel connection between realia and text itself ('rolling over the bones').


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