may_lily: (Something wicked this way comes)
Friday, May 23rd, 2014 09:18 am
(from my tumblr; content note for mutilation in some of the links)

I’ve found four more Icelandic versions of Kisa the Cat! It’s a heck of a lot easier to Google Translate these than the scan of the old book I found before.

Kisa kóngsdóttir og Ingibjörg systir hennar: this one seems more or less the same as the one I found before.

Sagan af Kisu kóngsdóttur: this one has yellow and red fish, not white and black, and doesn’t include the reincarnation backstory.

Kisa og Dagbjört kóngsdætur: there doesn’t appear to be any mutilation in this one, and once again there’s no reincarnation.

Missögn af Kisu kóngsdóttur: this one seems to be unrelated to the others. A queen has two daughters and curses one of them to be a cat. In the end, the human daughter is marrying a prince and insists his brother should marry the cat, which breaks the curse. The ending reminds me of Tatterhood.
may_lily: (Double Rei)
Saturday, May 17th, 2014 01:38 pm
So I go to ballet class this morning, thinking this'll be a normal day

and I come back a couple of hours later

to learn that Viz is re-releasing the old Sailor Moon anime, with a new dub

starting THIS WEEK


I just can't even fathom this.

(It's probably US-only for the time being, but whatever, I'll work something out)
may_lily: (in a world of my own)
Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 09:45 am
From my tumblr.

Those who are looking for non-binary characters in children’s books might be interested in L. Frank Baum’s John Dough and the Cherub, published in 1906. The titular John Dough is a human-sized gingerbread man brought to life, and the Cherub is his child companion Chick. Chick’s gender is never stated. The author uses the pronoun ‘it’ where necessary, but avoids pronoun use as much as possible.

Chick is not a literal angel - ‘cherub’ refers to their beautiful, angelic appearance. Brave and eternally cheerful, they accompany John Dough on his travels and protect him from the people who want to eat him. Chick’s gender ambiguity is never portrayed as odd. They and John Dough reappear in Return to Oz, as guests at Princess Ozma’s birthday party.
may_lily: (Best friends)
Monday, December 30th, 2013 06:28 pm
From my tumblr.

Inspired by a quote from the Frozen artbook, I wanted to make a list of the fairy tales I know that feature sisters and stepsisters with good relationships.

Tatterhood. There’s a lovely comic adaption of this one.
Kate Crackernuts
The Ungrateful Dwarf
Snow White and Rose Red (which was based on The Ungrateful Dwarf)
The Good Woman (Four and Twenty Fairy Tales page 203)
Biancabella and the Snake (content note for mutilation)
Adamantina and the Doll (content note for scatological humour)

And a couple of honourable mentions:

Kisa the Cat (content note for mutilation). In Lang’s version the main characters aren’t sisters, but it appears that they are in this Icelandic version (although I’ve only been able to read it with google translate). The story bears some resemblance to Biancabella and the Snake.
Fairer than a Fairy (Four and Twenty Fairy Tales page 183). The two princesses aren’t sisters but they become great friends, and do become family by the end.
may_lily: (Dare to dream)
Monday, July 22nd, 2013 03:19 pm
From my tumblr.

The cannibalism episode of Sun Moon and Talia takes on extra significance in light of the frame story of the Pentamerone (Beginning and Conclusion; content note for racism. The slave is treated really unpleasantly).

Princess Zoza must marry the dead Prince Tadeo. She can bring him back to life if she fills the pitcher on his tomb with her tears. She nearly fills it, but needs to sleep before she’s finished. While she’s sleeping, a slave girl comes along and fills up the rest of the pitcher, awakening the prince and marrying him. The slave gets pregnant and Zoza casts a spell on her that will make her crave hearing stories. The prince sends for storytellers, and the tales begin. In the end, Zoza tells her story and reveals that most of the tears were hers. The slave is executed and the prince marries Zoza.

So in both Zoza’s and Talia’s stories the prince is married to the ‘wrong’ woman. The first wife is portrayed as an unpleasant person while the second wife is more desirable. In the end, the ‘bad’ wife is killed and the ‘good’ woman takes her place. Interestingly, the pregnancy in the frame story is given to the first wife, while in Sun, Moon and Talia the first wife apparently has no children.

An earlier Sleeping Beauty, Troylus and Zellandine from Perceforest (available in A Perceforest Reader), follows the first half of Basile’s and Perrault’s stories reasonably closely. Three goddesses, Lucina, Venus and Themis, are given a feast to celebrate Zellandine’s birth. Themis was not given a knife, and, insulted, decreed that a shard of linen would pierce her finger from spinning and cause her to fall asleep; Venus decrees that she will make sure the shard is removed. This happens, Venus helps Troylus get to where Zellandine’s sleeping, he has sex with her, she gives birth, and the baby sucks out the shard. But after this, the story changes; there is no conflict with Troylus’ family. A fairy takes away the baby and Zellandine’s family wants her to marry someone else, so she runs away with Troylus.

This makes me wonder when the cannibalism episode got attached to the Sleeping Beauty episode. Was Basile retelling a story as he heard it, or did he put two stories together because they fit his theme?
may_lily: (Default)
Thursday, July 4th, 2013 05:02 pm
From my tumblr.

The girl whose father tried to marry her is best known through Perrault’s Donkeyskin and the Grimms’ Allerleirauh, but there are many other similar stories. There are two earlier ones: Tebaldo/Doralice (Straparola) and The She-Bear (Basile). There is also an 18th century tale, Bearskin (author uncertain; perhaps Henriette-Julie de Murat or Marguerite de Lubert) which combines these two stories (my translation is from Wonder Tales). Read on for lurid tales of incest and bestiality.

Tebaldo )

The She-Bear )

Bearskin )
may_lily: (Snow White)
Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013 07:15 pm
From my tumblr.

There’s some interesting meta to be found in the premise of Ever After High. The stories are required to be repeated over and over by the descendants of the characters, regardless of what the people involved actually want. It reminds me of the idea many have of ‘being true to the original stories’ - unaware of the incredible variation that the ‘original’ stories have.

It’s appropriate that the Grimm brothers (or one of them at least) should be pushing so hard for the stories to stay the same, since the Grimms (along with Perrault) solidified what most today think of as the ‘real’ stories. Of course, the Grimms themselves were not so rigid. Probably the most well known changes to the ‘originals’ are Snow White’s mother becoming her stepmother and Rapunzel’s prince’s visits being discovered because of her pregnancy. It was the Grimms who chose to make those changes in later editions of their book. In the first edition they also summarised numerous variations to the tales.

That said, I am a bit tired of the Grimms always being the fairy tale guys in adaptions like this. Could we have Madame d’Aulnoy as a teacher, pretty please?

Though I doubt it was intentional, Apple White’s hair being blonde is a good example of how the ‘original’ stories aren’t so original after all. Right from the first published version, Snow White’s hair was well known for being ebony black. But in the unpublished 1806 version, she was blonde! So is Apple’s hair a creative change, or being ‘true to the original’? It’s both!

I love the idea that Raven is going to shake up Fairy Tale Land by going against her destiny. Fairy tales are supposed to change and be retold, and it’s the Headmaster Grimms who insist that they can only be told one way that are missing the point.
may_lily: (Beauty and the Beast Love)
Monday, July 1st, 2013 07:53 pm
From my tumblr.

Most Animal Bridegroom tales, such as East of the Sun and West of the Moon or the Black Bull of Norroway, have the bridegroom as a specific animal, such as a bear or a bull or a lion. Madame de Villeneuve’s Beauty and the Beast, however, made him a non-specific ‘monster’. Madame de Beaumont’s more popular abridgement doesn’t describe the Beast, but Villeneuve does give a few lines of description.

From J. R. Planche’s translation, page 233:

He was terribly alarmed upon perceiving at his side a horrible beast, which, with an air of fury, laid upon his neck a kind of trunk, resembling an elephant’s…

Page 242:

A frightful noise, caused by the enormous weight of his body, by the terrible clank of his scales, and an awful roaring, announced his arrival.

Page 290:

The weight of my body had become so great that I could not lift myself; all that I could do was to sustain myself on my hands, which had in an instant become two horrible paws…

So a trunk, scales, and paws.
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: (Jade in the snow)
Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 01:22 pm
I've been watching 'The Polar Bear Family and Me' and I'm getting really worried for the bears. It's so tough for them to survive! The final is next week and I'm tempted to look up what happens, but what if they don't make it??? I've never been this invested in a documentary before.
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: (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.
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: (Rapunzel's hair)
Friday, April 19th, 2013 09:33 am
I've started watching Once Upon A Time with my mum. We missed the first season, and we're behind the US - just up to episode 10. Over the last couple of episodes, it's seemed to me that there are similarities between Regina and the fairy/witch of Persinette/Rapunzel.

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?