may_lily: (Rapunzel and Pascal)
may_lily ([personal profile] may_lily) wrote2013-04-30 09:00 am

La Force in English

From my tumblr.

As a huge cheerleader for Charlotte-Rose de la Force (author of Persinette, the basis for Rapunzel) I was delighted to find an English translation of one of her fairy tales that I hadn’t read before: Tourbillon. In the translation it’s given the title The Story of Bellina, though I believe that in French the heroine’s name is Prétintin. It’s in Volume 2 of Temple of the Fairies, page 17. I can’t judge how good the translation is, but it seems reasonable enough.

Volume 1 also contains a couple of La Force fairy tales: L’Enchanteur (page 186, called here The Royal Enchanter) and The Good Woman (page 221). I had read The Good Woman before, in J. R. Planché’s Four and Twenty Fairy Tales (page 203). In Temple of the Fairies, the character’s names have been Anglicised: Lirette to Liretta, Mirtis to Myrtilla, and, oddly, Finfin to Jerzine. I can’t explain that last one because I don’t know what either Finfin or Jerzine mean.

I like The Good Woman because it’s full of great female characters. The Good Woman of the title is one of the few fairy tale protagonists who is an older woman. Lirette and Mirtis are exiled princesses, sisters who care very much about each other - no enmity between women here! There is a wise and powerful fairy who is friends with a long-suffering queen, and both of them become friends with the Good Woman. I highly recommend it.

There is another translation of The Enchanter in Enchanted Eloquence, but that book’s out of print, so I’m pleased to have found an online alternative. This is a really unusual story compared to other fairy tales of the period. Its setting is more like an Arthurian romance, and the plot is about the adultery of a queen, much like Guinevere. The queen is not portrayed as a villain, however - in fact, there is no real villain. The conflict is between the queen, her husband the king, her lover the enchanter, and her son. Their conflicting desires and values cause them to hurt each other. Surprisingly, the queen and the enchanter get a happy ending together. The ending poem (not given in Temple of the Fairies), muses on how capricious fortune will reward the wicked (the queen and the enchanter) and the virtuous (the son and his beloved) alike, but if you ask me the message is that true love will always find a way, and loveless marriages are disastrous.

Temple of the Fairies also contains fairy tales by Aulnoy, Perrault, Beaumont, Lubert, and other that I didn’t recognise. I still have not found an online translation of Persinette, sadly.

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