The concept of “fairy tale” was introduced to China in the early twentieth century. Subsequently, a wave of collecting and publishing fairy tales, along with other genres of folklore, spread all over China. By the early 1930s, the most influential editor in this folklore collection movement, with more than a thousand tales in multiple volumes, was Lin Lan. The tales were collected from everyday people in rural areas. These tales have demonstrated a continuing interactive history of oral storytelling and written records in Chinese history. By the late 1930s, many of the tales from the Lin Lan series had been introduced to the West. However, at the same time, questions about the actual identity (or identities) of “Lin Lan” and why the Lin Lan phenomenon occurred were never openly mentioned or discussed. Further, Lin Lan is still unknown beyond the Chinese-speaking world. This article revisits the Lin Lan phenomenon, examines the social background, and argues that Lin Lan should be appropriately acknowledged as the “Brothers Grimm of modern China.”

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