Saturday, January 20, 2018

Keep it Short #3

This week I'll be sharing my thoughts on three fairy tales from Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book: "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," "The Yellow Dwarf," and "Little Red Riding Hood."

East of the Sun and West of the Moon

First sentence: Once upon a time there was a poor husbandman who had many children and little to give them in the way either of food or clothing. They were all pretty, but the prettiest of all was the youngest daughter, who was so beautiful that there were no bounds to her beauty.

Premise/plot: The youngest daughter marries a White Bear. All goes remarkably well...until curiosity gets the best of her and she takes her mother's advice. But she does truly love her husband, and she's really to do anything--no matter how hard--for a chance to get him back. Will true love prevail?

My thoughts: This is one of my favorite fairy tales. There are different variations, of course. And it has been adapted quite a few times as a novel.

The Yellow Dwarf

First sentence: Once upon a time there lived a queen who had been the mother of a great many children, and of them all only one daughter was left. But then she was worth at least a thousand.
Her mother, who, since the death of the King, her father, had nothing in the world she cared for so much as this little Princess, was so terribly afraid of losing her that she quite spoiled her, and never tried to correct any of her faults. The consequence was that this little person, who was as pretty as possible, and was one day to wear a crown, grew up so proud and so much in love with her own beauty that she despised everyone else in the world. 

Premise/plot: Bellissima is a princess who seems destined to love no one but herself for eternity. Her mother, in a despair of sorts, seeks the advice of the Fairy of the Desert. Things don't go as planned. (Do they ever in a fairy tale?! If only people knew when they were in a fairy tale, then they wouldn't make plans, or as many plans.) To get to the Fairy of the Desert, she has to get past the lions, to get past the lions, she needs a certain cake, when that certain cake goes missing...well, enter the YELLOW DWARF. To save herself from being eaten, she promises that Bellissima will marry HIM. (In retrospect, I wonder if she regrets NOT being eaten?) She returns to her daughter more depressed than ever. Her daughter seeks the advice of the FAIRY OF THE DESERT on how to cheer her mother up. (Second verse, same as the first.) This time to avoid being eaten by the lions, she promises to marry the Yellow Dwarf.) Neither the Queen or Princess want to follow through with this, and, suddenly when faced with the idea of marriage to a Yellow Dwarf, the other candidates start looking amazing. She falls deeply in love....but will their marriage take place?! Not if the Yellow Dwarf has his way. And readers do finally meet the much mentioned Fairy of the Desert.

My thoughts: This story was completely new to me. And I could see why no one would go out of their way to introduce it to me as a child. It is a MESSY story that ends, well, as a tragedy. What I wasn't expecting was the sudden appearance of a mermaid....

 Little Red Riding Hood

First sentence: Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a little country girl, the prettiest creature was ever seen. Her mother was excessively fond of her; and her grandmother doted on her still more. This good woman had made for her a little red riding-hood; which became the girl so extremely well that everybody called her Little Red Riding-Hood. One day her mother, having made some custards, said to her: “Go, my dear, and see how thy grandmamma does, for I hear she has been very ill; carry her a custard, and this little pot of butter.”

Premise/plot: A little girl, while on an errand for her mother, meets a wolf in the woods and the results are predictable.

My thoughts: Who doesn't know the story of Little Red Riding Hood? There are many, many variations of details for this one. So what struck me as I was reading this version were the differences. Like the custard and the pot of butter. I also was NOT expecting Little Red Riding Hood to get naked. She arrives at her grandmother's house, gets naked, hops into bed with her "granny" and then the questions begin.
“Grandmamma, what great arms you have got!”
“That is the better to hug thee, my dear.”
“Grandmamma, what great legs you have got!”
“That is to run the better, my child.”
“Grandmamma, what great ears you have got!”
“That is to hear the better, my child.”
“Grandmamma, what great eyes you have got!”
“It is to see the better, my child.”
“Grandmamma, what great teeth you have got!”
“That is to eat thee up.”
And, saying these words, this wicked wolf fell upon Little Red Riding-Hood, and ate her all up.
There is no heroic rescue for Little Red Riding Hood OR her grandmother. This is THE END.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Paula Vince said...

I've only recently discovered Andrew Lang's lovely stories. I've read some from The Brown Fairy Book. The Blue Fairy Book sounds as if it has some good old classics too.