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may_lily: (Snow White in Spring)
Sunday, June 30th, 2013 11:47 am
From my tumblr.

The obscure fairy tale by Charlotte-Rose de la Force, Tourbillon (Whirlwind), was translated in Volume 2 of Temple of the Fairies, page 17. It’s called ‘The Story of Bellina’, changing the heroine’s name from Prétintin. I also found it online in French. I am only able to read it with Google translate, so I may be mistaken about some things, but there seem to be some intriguing differences.

Uliciane wants to get rid of Prétintin not because she’s losing her magic powers, but because her lover will stop loving her if Prétintin lives. Tourbillon is attracted to Prétintin, but helps her even after she refuses him.

Most interesting of all, the woman who’s supposed to wake up Uliciane after the end of the story is Prétintin and Nirée’s daughter (there’s no seven-hundred year time limit). It reminds me of the Emma/Regina ship from Once Upon a Time. A wicked stepmother persecutes her stepdaughter and is defeated. Some time later, the daughter of the stepdaughter meets the stepmother and forms a connection with her. There’s even a magical sleep! Though of course, the other person is sleeping.

I’d like to imagine that Prétintin’s daughter and Uliciane go on exciting adventures together, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
may_lily: (Rapunzel's hair)
Saturday, June 8th, 2013 11:52 am
From my tumblr.

It’s the eternally puzzling question: why did the witch lock the maiden in the tower?

Neither Rapunzel nor Petrosinella offer any explanation. La Force’s Persinette, however, does, though it raises more questions.

Before Persinette reached the age of twelve, she was a marvel to behold, and since the fairy was fully aware of what fate had in store for her, she decided to shield her from her destiny.

But what was Persinette’s fate? Possibly unwed pregnancy. Once the fairy realises that Persinette’s pregnant, she says:

“You’ve made a great mistake, and you’re going to be punished for it. Fate has had its way, and all the precautions I took were in vain.”

Was Persinette actually unmarried though? Here’s the prince once he makes his way into the tower:

Finally, he became bolder and proposed to marry her right then and there, and she consented without hardly knowing what she was doing. Even so, she was able to complete the ceremony.

Is this just a euphemism for sex, or were they genuinely married? I know that in some times and places, all that was required was the two participants declaring that they were married. I don’t know if that was the case in 17th century France. Aulnoy’s The White Cat has a similar scene with the prince and the princess declaring marriage in a tower, with the princess’s pet dog and parrot as witnesses.

I wonder if the fairy foresaw something more in Persinette’s fate? Perhaps she saw that Persinette’s suffering would begin with her falling in love with a man. Once she got pregnant, her lover was no longer with her, and she had to raise the children all on her own.

When Oedipus was born, there was a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Every attempt to avert this failed - his parents exposed him, but instead of dying he was adopted. Unaware that he was adopted, he learned of the prophecy and determined to leave his parents in order to avoid it. He fought and killed a stranger that turned out to be his father, and married a woman who turned out to be his mother.

I wonder if, similarly, the fairy tried to avoid Persinette’s suffering, and ended up bringing it about instead? She tries to keep her away from men, knowing that one will be the cause of her suffering. She takes her away from the man she believes is fickle, and punishes him. In the end, seeing the love between the couple, and that he is prepared to remain with her even under the threat of death, she relents and allows them to be together. Could it be that she realised the prophecy had already come to pass?

Undoubtedly there are other explanations for the fairy’s motivation, but I find this one to be interesting. I think she’s a really fascinating character.
may_lily: (Rapunzel and Pascal)
Thursday, June 6th, 2013 12:31 pm
From my tumblr.

Were the Grimms influenced in some way by Madame d’Aulnoy’s ‘The White Cat’ when they wrote Rapunzel?

One of the odd parts of Rapunzel is the ladder that she tries to make. She asks the prince to bring a bit of silk every time he comes which she weaves to make a ladder. But why on earth couldn’t the prince bring a whole rope ladder at once?

The ladder isn’t in La Force’s Persinette or Friedrich Schulz’s translation (which is where the Grimms got Rapunzel from). Another fairy tale that does include a maiden in a tower making a rope ladder, however, is Madame d’Aulnoy’s The White Cat.

This princess doesn’t have that extraordinarily long hair, so the king can’t come up to visit her. They’re stuck looking at each other, him on the ground and her from the window, and sending messages via her pet parrot. The princess decides to make a rope ladder to get out. This time, it’s not the king who provides the twine, but her fairy captor. She can’t get as much as she needs all at once or the fairy will get suspicious - she tells her that she wants to make nets to catch the birds that are spoiling her garden, so she can only get a bit at a time.

Admittedly, once the ladder is done they act less sensibly - instead of fleeing right away the king comes to see her, they spend the night enjoying each others’ company, and in the morning the king leaves and the princess stays. But I find the making of the ladder, at least, to make more sense in The White Cat than in Rapunzel.
may_lily: (Rapunzel and Pascal)
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 09:00 am
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.