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Rand, H. (2000). Who Was Rumpelstiltskin?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 81(5):943-962.

(2000). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 81(5):943-962

Who Was Rumpelstiltskin?

Harry Rand

The author describes the way in which Rumpelstiltskin has perplexed and enthralled readers since the brothers Grimm recovered the tale from the realm of folklore. In standard translation, the story now lives in a fixed literary form and, consequently, in the imagination of every child who has ever heard or read the story—virtually every person in the English-speaking world. Therefore, deeply rooted in childhood experiences, Rumpelstiltskin can be expected to appear in analysis, and he does. The compelling central character is the title figure, Rumpelstiltskin, whose name and actions tell us who he is and what he was intended to ‘mean’—especially to his contemplated audience. The original narrators of and listeners to this tale were female visitors to the evening spinning chamber (Spinnstube), where women gathered and told tales to amuse themselves to ward off sleep while they spun. The butt of this story is male impotence and bluster, and the key to the story's meaning arises from matching the etymological roots of the central character's name with his actions as they appear philologically and psychoanalytically.

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