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may_lily: (Clobber)
Saturday, May 11th, 2013 09:56 am
My vote for the next grim-n-gritty fairy tale movie adaption: Cinderella Ogre Killer. Based on Madame d’Aulnoy’s Finette Cendron.
may_lily: (Default)
Monday, April 29th, 2013 01:05 pm
From my tumblr.

In the Aarne-Thompson classification system Cinderella is also known as the Persecuted Heroine. But just occasionally Cinderella is barely persecuted at all.

In Thomas Crane’s version of Cinderella, from Italian Popular Tales, Cinderella has a pretty good home life. Her sisters are somewhat mean to her and give her the nickname Cinderella, but it’s because she likes staying by the chimney, not because she’s forced to. Her father buys gifts for all three of his daughters without forgetting Cinderella. They don’t try to prevent her from going to the ball; she says she doesn’t want to. In fact, as the balls progress, the sisters try really hard to persuade Cinderella to come!

Why does she trick her family in this way? The story doesn’t say. It comes off to me like she’s doing it all for the lulz - pretending to her family to be just a dirty ash-girl, and shocking them when she reveals herself to be a beautiful lady that the king loves!
may_lily: (Default)
Sunday, April 28th, 2013 11:23 am
From my tumblr.

After looking into Cinderella stories, I came across this really interesting one: The Step-Mother and the Step-Daughter. It starts out looking like a typical Wicked Stepmother type, with the stepmother taking complete control over the stepdaughter, and seems to get worse when the stepmother orders her to steal. But it turns completely around when the king finds the daughter precisely because she stole from him! The stepmother gets her happy ending along with everyone else. It’s really nice to get a good stepmother once in a while.
may_lily: (an angel among us)
Saturday, April 20th, 2013 05:05 pm
From my tumblr.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses is a fairy tale that bothers me. In the Grimm version, there’s no indication that the princesses are doing anything wrong. In fact, there’s a suggestion that they’re trying to uncurse a group of princes, who remain cursed at the end of the story.

There are other versions in which the princesses are dancing and having sex with devils (e.g., The Three Girls). But even then, the devils aren’t doing anything to anyone else. In other stories, the lover is a giant (The Seven Iron Slippers) or a troll (The Princess with the Twelve Pair of Golden Shoes) or a Moorish prince (The Moorish Prince and the Christian Princess), who once again isn’t hurting anyone.

Sometimes, as in The Princess with the Twelve Pair of Golden Shoes, the lover has enchanted the princess. Often, though, she seems to be dancing of her own free will. Several versions involve willing older sisters and a reluctant younger sister. The older sisters are executed by their father when their secret is revealed.

Read more... )
may_lily: (Default)
Thursday, April 11th, 2013 10:44 am
From my tumblr.

Finette Cendron is Madame d’Aulnoy’s version of Cinderella, published about a year after Perrault’s Cendrillon. There are considerable differences to Perrault. The heroine and her sisters are abandoned by their parents because of their poverty, much like Hansel and Gretel. They come across a castle inhabited by an ogre couple, and Finette tricks one into burning to death in his oven and beheads the other. The sisters take over the castle, but the older sisters are cruel to Finette and make her do the housework while they go to balls. Finette discovers a magic wardrobe that gives her beautiful clothes and goes to the balls herself, unrecognised by her sisters. She loses a shoe which is discovered by Prince Cheri, who goes lovesick with longing for its owner. He announces that he will marry the one who fits the slipper, of course Finette does, and they marry.

What I find interesting is that the prince never actually meets Finette before finding the shoe (or at least their meeting isn’t mentioned). While Perrault’s prince is inflamed by Cinderella’s beauty, Aulnoy’s prince seems almost to be under a spell. This reminds me of two of the earliest stories related to Cinderella: Rhodopis and Ye Xian.

Rhodopis (from Strabo 17.1.33 and Aelian Various Histories 13.33) was bathing when an eagle took one of her shoes from her maid, flew away with it, and dropped it into the lap of the king. Taking this as a sign, the king searched for the owner of the shoe and married her.

Ye Xian (I got my translation from Jstor) has a more typical Cinderella beginning. A girl is ill-treated by her stepmother and finds a magic fish. The stepmother kills the fish but Ye Xian keeps the bones. The stepmother and stepsister go to a festival, and Ye Xian gets a dress and shoes from the fishbones and goes too. She loses a shoe when hurrying away so as not to be caught by her stepmother.

The shoe is sold by someone who picked it up and eventually a king gets hold of it. He decides to find the owner, Ye Xian, and marries her.

In the more well-known Cendrillon and its variants the prince falls in love with a woman and the shoe is simply the means of recognising her. By contrast, in Rhodopis, Ye Xian and Finette Cendron the shoe is the token by which the prince learns that there is someone to find. In Rhodopis, the extraordinary way the king gets the shoe does suggest that the gods are trying to tell him something. But in Ye Xian and Finette Cendron the shoe is acquired in an ordinary way. Nevertheless, the prince/king recognises that the shoe will lead him to his fate,and he becomes obsessed with finding the owner.

I wonder if, before Cendrillon became the dominant narrative, there were two versions of the shoe episode, one with a meeting and one without? Or is it simply a coincidence that Madame d’Aulnoy tapped into an aspect of her predecessors?