may_lily: (Snow White in Spring)
may_lily ([personal profile] may_lily) wrote2013-01-31 11:13 am

The Sky-Blue Princess and the Leaf-Green Prince

From my tumblr.

I finally managed to get my hands on Enchanted Eloquence. This book is amazing and full of really helpful footnotes; I’m incredibly sad that it’s out of print. The story that I particularly wanted to read was Charlotte-Rose de la Force’s Green and Blue. I suspect that it has some connection with Henriette-Julie de Murat’s The Prince of Leaves. I don’t know exactly what that connection might be; perhaps they were working from the same idea, or perhaps one inspired the other, but there are a lot of similarities between the stories and I’d be surprised if it was just a coincidence. The Prince of Leaves can be read online in J. R. Planché’s Four and Twenty Fairy Tales.

I’ll start by summarising Green and Blue. The Queen of the Indies has a daughter and asks her sister, the Fairy Sublime, to foretell her fate. The princess will not be happy unless she marries a man who is her opposite. Sublime decides that she should be kept away from men, and brings her to live in a cloud along with four other maidens. The princess has extraordinarily blue eyes, "so quick and lively that her piercing looks alone could turn the cloud the very same color," so she is called Princess Blue. Sublime is friends with a magician named Tiphis, and Tiphis has a son named Zelindor. Zelindor is in love with Blue, but she doesn’t love him.

There was also once a powerful king named Spring who was so beloved that when he died the season was named after him. He had a son named Green, a wonderful and famous prince.

Blue has a veil of illusion so that she can hide from people when visiting the world. She disguises herself as a statue that Prince Green happens upon. He thinks the statue is beautiful and she falls in love with him. Her maidens (also disguised) sing a song encouraging him to find her.

Later, Green happens to come across Blue while she is swimming in a fountain. This is a noteworthy passage because Blue is nearly naked and does not try to hide from him. La Force is notable for often dealing with female sexuality and desire in her writing, unusual for the period.

Zelindor discovers Blue and Green’s love. Blue worries that he will interfere so she gives Green her veil of illusion. Green disguises himself as a pine bush (the footnotes of Enchanted Eloquence note that this choice fits his name). Zelindor kidnaps Blue and keeps her in Tiphis’ palace. He tries to make her fall in love with him, but she is having none of it.

Sublime figures out what the prophecy about ‘opposition’ means. Green and blue are considered incompatible colours, so their names make them opposites. Sublime takes Green in a flying palace to Tiphis’ place. She whisks the lovers away and they get married in green and blue wedding clothes.

Now for The Prince of Leaves. There is a princess named Ravissante. A fairy, a relative of her mother, predicts that her happiness depends on her remaining faithful to her first love. The king agrees to have her brought up by the fairy.

Ravissante and the fairy live in a sky-blue palace on a sky-blue rock in the sea, along with several maidens and nymphs. The fairy has a nephew named Ariston who has the same fate as Ravissante: happiness as long as he is faithful to his first love. The fairy wants Ravissante and Ariston to marry, so she brings him to the island when they’re grown up. The fairy had also predicted that green would be an unlucky colour for Ariston, so she did not allow anything green on the island. Ariston falls in love with Ravissante, but she does not love him back.

One day a magic boat made of tree branches arrives at the island. It belongs to the Prince of Leaves, and he and Ravissante fall in love. He is the son of Spring and a sea nymph, giving him power over earth and sea, but not sky. He has to leave for a while and when he comes back he invites Ravissante to go with him, but Ravissante wishes to obtain the fairy’s consent first so she refuses. The Prince of Leaves gives her a pair of butterflies so she can communicate with him.

Ariston and the fairy are furious and put Ravissante in a blue tower which they make invisible. However, the butterflies discover that it’s only invisible if you’re on the land or sea – not if you’re flying! The Prince of Leaves can’t fly, but he’s friends with the Prince of the Butterflies. There’s a subplot here about how the Prince of Leaves helped the Prince of the Butterflies rescue the Princess of the Linnets, which is why he was sailing in the first place.

The tower starts gradually turning green, signifying misfortune for Ariston. He reveals that he had been in love with another princess before coming to the island and falling in love with Ravissante.

A flock of butterflies, led by their prince, come to release Ravissante from the tower. Ariston commits suicide and the fairy destroys the tower, which turns into pieces of turquoise. Ravissante and the Prince of Leaves live happily together.

So in both of these stories we have a blue-themed princess and a green-themed prince, the son of Spring. The princess has a prophecy about who she must marry and is whisked away to be brought up by a fairy. There is a rival prince who tries to force her love by imprisoning her, to no avail. The big difference is in the character of the fairy: in Green and Blue, she is entirely helpful to the lovers, but the magician Tiphis tries to help the rival prince marry the princess. In The Prince of Leaves, the fairy is like a combination of Sublime and Tiphis: she is the princess’s guardian, but also tries to force her to marry the rival prince. I wonder if there are other tales about a Sky Princess and a Tree Prince?