Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2012!

Don't worry, Cinderella.
I'll always be with you
Well, it's midnight, and the magic is about to rub off of me. It's been a long year, and I've told my story 365 times now! I hope you have enjoyed it. Here's to a great 2012 for all the little Cinderellas out there.
Leave me a comment and let me know whether you have enjoyed my blog!

Cinderella #365 Five Original Verses

Illustration by Dick Bruna

Cinderella #365 
Five Original Verses by    Rachel Hope Crossman    
Cinderella, dressed in yella’,
Went upstairs to kiss her fella.
Made a mistake, kissed a snake...
How many doctors did it take?
Cinderella dressed in red,
Got right up and out of bed,
Cooked for the King, dropped her ring,
Hoped he'd find her magic bling.
Cinderella dressed in blue,
Ran away and lost a shoe,
Despite her sisters’ cruel laughter,
She’s the girl the Prince ran after.
Cinderella dressed in green,
Went upstairs to meet the Queen,
She curtsied, bowed, sang acapella:
Your Majesty, I’m Cinderella!
Cinderella dressed in white,
Invited to the ball that night,
One candied quince from that sweet prince—
They’ve been an item ever since.
Cinderella dressed in gold,
Kissed by the Prince, who was so bold,
They got married, they grew old. 
Now my story is all told. 
© 2011 Rachel Hope Crossman
Notes: This posting concludes my experiment, 365 Cinderellas, in which I have posted a new Cinderella story for every day of the year 2011. As of December 31, nearly 17,000 people have viewed this site. I hope you have enjoyed the stories! UPDATE OCTOBER 2020: 600,000 HITS AND COUNTING!

Cinderella #364 "To Love My Father All: A Psychoanalytic Study of the Folktale Source of King Lear" (Dundes, A.)

Cinderella #364 "To Love My Father All: A Psychoanalytic Study of the Folktale Source of King Lear" (Dundes, A.)
A child's fantasy princess.
Illustration by the other Emily, age 5.
Once upon a time, in Berkeley, CA, there lived a man named Alan Dundes. As a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, he became a renowned scholar of Cinderella. In his 1983 book, Cinderella: A Casebook, he wrote about the variants known as Catskin (in which the father lusts for his own daughter) and "the King Lear variant" in which his daughter is banished for saying that she loves her father "as much as salt". This essay posits that Shakespeare's King Lear was inspired by a well known folktale, Cinderella. He points out the facts which can be used to support this, including the "tale type index" established in 1910. He identifies an even earlier literary borrowing from folktale plots, that of Homer's Odyssey. The story of Polyphemus (The Ogre Blinded), Dundes said, is "an identifiable, independent folktale which certainly must have been incorporated into" the Odyssey. Furthermore, he said,"Not only do most conventional Shakespeare scholars merely allude en passant to possible 'old stories rooted in the popular faith' ...but they rarely if ever stop to consider the psychological implications of the folktale plot lying at the base of a given work of literature. In short, they do not always properly identify possible folktale sources and without such identification, they are in no position to make a judicious psychological or for that matter any other type of interpretation derived from folklore." In other words, it's the archetypes, dummy! That is why characters repeat, and yet always feel fresh. Dundes zeroed in on King Lear, and declared that "it has long been recognized that the plot  was borrowed in part from folklore". The test of filial love is the tell-tale marker, with this particular story element (of the three daughters called before their father, the king, and asked to tell him how much each one loves him). It was actually nick-named by Marian Roalfe Cox as the "King Lear type/Loves Like Salt" in her 1892 study, Cinderella: Three Hundred Forty Five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes. Dunded pointed out, however, a very significant difference between the Shakespeare version and the folktale. Fairy tales usually are told from the point of the child or younger generation, not the parent or older folks. Wise old women may advise and old Kings may be benevolent or not, but never do they get the princess. Yet the theme of incest runs deeply through this play, as "a number of pyschoanalytically oriented critics have remarked. Dundes cites Bransom (1934) and Sigmund Freud himself, who wrote to Bransom after reading his book and "agreed 'that the secret meaning of the tragedy' had to do with Lear's repressed incestuous claims on his daughter's love". Dundes argued that "none of the critics who see an incest theme in King Lear appear to be aware of the existence of the same theme in folktale sources from which the play is definitely derived." Using the Freudian method of psychoanalysis, in which the unconscious mind is understood to project things upside and sideways and otherwise obscure their clear meaning, Dundes explains that a little girl in a fairy tale who is "forced" to marry her father, or is pursued by her is really acting out her own wish to replace her mother. Thus, with so many Cinderella stories conveniently beginning with the death of the mother and the amazing coincidence of the mother's death bed wish being that Dad remarry someone who fits into her clothes or ring exactly (like, maybe, her daughter?) Dundes said that the incestuous fathers of the Catskin/King Lear variant can  actually be viewed as the projections of little girls. (p.237). One problem with this theory is that it misses the point. Remember the archetypes, which(according to a Jungian interpretation) are memories of the collective unconscious, not author-creations. Thus, since the Cinderella story is not one made up by little girls and told to one another, rather it is an ancient tale told the world over by adults. This Cinderella researcher believes, the reason for the existence of men who are sexually attracted to little girls in fairy tales and literature is as simple as the existence of such men in real life. Fact: many men are highly attracted to females in the Cinderella state of transforming from little girl to woman. Most men seem able not to act on this attraction but it nonetheless exists. When Sigmund Freud began hearing from his patients about being sexually abused by their fathers, and realized that one in four of his patients made such claims, he at first thought that such high numbers could only be fantasy. Yet even today, "over 3 million reports of child abuse are made each day in the United States" (Childwatch Ultimately, Freud recognized the truth and wrote in a letter ,to Wilhelm Fliess, Dec.22, 1897, citing Goethe, after relating his patient's memory
of having been raped by her father at age two, "A new motto: What has been done to you, poor child?"
-Sigmund Freud.(From "The Universality of Incest
Lloyd DeMause
The Journal of Psychohistory, Fall 1991, Vol. 19, No. 2,

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cinderella #363 Aschengrittel

Cinderella #363 Aschengrittel 
"A tiny, white bearded dwarf"
gives her 6 wishes: three good and three bad!
Illustration by Jacques, R. 
Once upon a time, in what is now Germany, there lived a girl called Aschengrittle. This was not her name, merely an ugly slur cast upon her by her two younger stepsisters. They and their mother made Aschengrittle do all of the dirtiest household work, and sleep in the scullery. Since they never gave her new clothing to wear she was soon covered with ashes. That is why they gave her the nickname. Her little step-brats were so mean that one of their favorite games was to throw "lentils in the ashes for her to sort". She ate only what she gleaned from the sooty hearth. It happened that her "Father goes ajourney" one day, and "asks what gifts he shall bring for his daughters." Her little stepsisters greedily request dresses and sweets and trinkets, but Aschengrittel asks only for "the first twig that hits Father's hat". So her father goes, and soon enough comes back. To his young stepdaughters he presents new dresses and shoes and necklaces, with fruits and sweets besides. For his own daughter he has jokingly gift-wrapped a fir twig. As her sisters  jeer and laugh, Aschengrittle thanks her father. Then she "places [the] twig in her bosom, and carries it always with her." The following day is wash day, and first thing in the morning, poor old Aschengrittel is sent to the distant well to draw water. When she gets there, "a tiny, white bearded dwarf appears, and promises to perform three good and three evil wishes" for her. Well, the girl says that she will not accept the evil wishes, and wants only that "her stepmother and stepsisters may be kind to her in future". Dwarves are canny creatures, and this one could tell that the girl's heart was pure and good. So he gave her a "golden wand that will perform anything she wishes", bade her good day, and was gone. Alone, she tests the wand by "striking it against the edge of the well" and articulating her desires. They manifest! Her dirty clothing has been replaced by a clean dress, and a meal has appeared before her. Not wanting to arouse suspicion, she eats the food and changes back into her rags before returning home. It happens that soon "a young king, wishing to choose a bride, gives a grand ball". Of course her stepmother forbids her to go, and takes her own girls with her. As soon as they are gone, Aschengrittle runs to the well and activates her wand. "Instantly [a] wonderful dress with gold and pearls is before her". She puts it on, strikes the well again, and now has  coach and six to transport her. At the ball, she is radiant, and attracts the attention of the young king. But she leaves midway through the evening, and he is bereft. So he announces that he will hold a second ball the following night. This time Aschengrittle comes in "more splendid attire" and again captivates the king. Yet once more she gives him the slip. What can he do but host a third ball? For this final evening of revelry, Aschengritte's wand really works some spectacular magic. It clothes her "in a still more gorgeous dress". She is "beyond measure happy"when she arrives at the palace for her third date with the king, but he has made some preparations this time. An order has been given to "have every door but one closed, and this is smeared with pitch" after the guests have entered. This evening passes in a whirl of sweet talk and fast dancing, and before he knows it, Aschengrittel is heading for the exit once more. He follows at a discreet pace as she goes from exit to exit, finding each one sealed. At last she finds an open door! Pushing through it, she feels her feet stuck fast to something on the other side. The king is nearly upon her, when she makes a snap decision: "she leaves [one] golden shoe sticking to the pitch rather than let the king follow her home." With a kick, she pulls free of her shoe and runs swiftly away. Appetite now fully whetted for the hunt, the young king smiles as he bends to recover the shoe.  "He is delighted to have [it] and gives notice that he will wed whomsoever it fits." Taking the shoe himself from door to door, he comes at last to Aschengrittlel's home. Of course, her stepmother has pushed her out the back door. She pulls her own girls forward, insisting that they take the shoe into the other room to try it on. There she "makes one daughter cut off [her] big toe and the other daughter [a] piece of heel." Showing first one and then the other girl to the king as they model the shoe, the stepmother manages to trick him for awhile. But then he notices the sticky red puddles on the floor and says, "Gru, gru, there is blood in the shoe; this bride is not the true." So he guesses that there must be one more young girl in the house. At last the stepmother admits that there is though she is "too ugly and dirty to be seen". The king demands to see her anyway, and the rest, as they say, is history. 
From: Cox, M. R. (1893/2011) p.316
Notes: Here is another rare example of a "fairy godFATHER" in place of the usual nurturing female. Dwarves are ancient creatures of mythology; reputed to live deep within the earth and to be skilled miners and metalworkers, their literary roots are deep. According to Alison Jones, author of the Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore, dwarves are "hot tempered and quick to take offense but nevertheless generous and loyal to those they befriend." In the mythology of Scandinavia, they are "created by the gods from the giant Ymir, and although less powerful than their creators were wiser than humans." (p.153) For more folktales and more about Marian Roalfe Cox, visit The Folklore Society,

Cinderella #362 The Story of Hanchi

Cinderella #362 The Story of Hanchi
Moo! Cows help Cinderella in
at least 26 of the
365 Cinderellas featured here. 
Once upon a time, in Kannada, there was a girl named Hanchi.  Her mother was an old woman. She had a brother, who was not very observant. For example, he had never noticed that Hanchi's hair was golden. "One day, when both of them were grown up and Hanchi was a lovely young woman", he noticed her hair and fell instantly in love. He demanded to marry his sister. His mother, however, was shocked and instead tricked him into going into town. She told him to shop for "all the rice and flour and lentils" for the wedding feast that he could find. Meanwhile, back at home, she called Hanchi to her and said, "Daughter, the time has come for you to leave me. You're as good as dead to me after this day. You are too beautiful to live here in safety." So the mother gave her "a mask of clay" and made her put it on. She told her to "Never remove the mask from your face, till you situation is better." And Hanchi put it on and left. Then the mother poisoned herself and died. When her son returned, "he found his sister gone and his mother dead; he went mad and became a wandering madman." But Hanchi wandered on, "eating at noon and by moonlight". One day she came to a town where she was befriended by an old woman. This lady soon discovered that Hanchi could make "dishes of sweet rice" like no one else. So Hanchi cooked, and the woman invited all of her friends over to sample the food. Everyone marveled at the masked cook. One night, when Hanchi thought she was alone, she removed the mask to take a bath. But, "the youngest son of the Saukar" was present, and happened to observe her when "he peeped into the bath house and saw her in all her beauty. He was still young", and so fled. Yet he "fell deeply in love with the glory that was her hair and decided at once to make her his wife." But when he told this news to his mother she would not hear of it, and promised instead to seek him a fine, more suitable wife. Just then Hanchi walked by and in a heat of passion, the young man snatched her mask away. Then "the mother was struck dumb by her extraordinary beauty" and agreed at once to the wedding. For a brief time, "the newlyweds were as happy as doves". The influence of a self-styled "holy man, called Guruswami" threw things out of balance. Guruswami was "the rich man's chief counselor and had a reputation for secret lore and black arts of many kinds." He lusted after Hanchi himself, and decided to charm her. He summoned the girl for a so-called spriritual ritual, then tried to hypnotize her and feed her drugged fruits. But she would not eat them, nor submit to his suggestions. In fact, she tossed the drugged plantains into the drainage dtich, where "a she-buffalo" who was "in heat" was drawn like a magnet to Guruswami with irresistible love. She chased him down and "he was badly mauled by the amorous buffalo." The second time he came to call on her and she actually opened the door. But "instead of caresses he received hard blows from inanimate vessels which were" attracted by his magical spells. When he sent her enchanted betel nuts the next day, she "threw the nuts at the broomstick in the corner." When he came calling that evening, he opened the door and got "a thorny broomstick into his greedy arms instead." So he conceived a plot against her. Going to her chambers when she was not in, he carefully placed "plantains, almonds,betel leaves, and nuts." Then he ran to tell her family that Hanchi was "a whore". He said that he had "surprised her with a lover," Then, "with righteous indignation, Guruswami showed them the hidden clothing and the telltale cheroot stubs and betel pieces". They proved her sinfulness, he claimed, and ordered her capture.Then he imprisoned her and beat her, but still, she would not confess to her supposed crimes. As for her family, apparently they would follow like sheep anyone who flashed some fancy words. Poor Hachi! Her very own family had her "dragged out, shut up in a box and handed over to Guruswami." He had a truly nefarious plan for getting his revenge on this girl. He  told his servants that there were "ferocious mad dogs in the box" and that they were to be drowned next day. He had the box delivered to the home of an old who happened to live on the riverbank. So the servants left the box there and told the old lady the most horrific things they could think of so that she would not dare to open the box. But as soon as they had left, the old woman "heard peculiar noises coming from the box". In fact she recognized her own name! So she "pried open the lid and to her great astonishment found Hanchi crouching inside the box." The poor thing was miserable, cramped, cold, hungry. She fed Hanchi all that she cared to eat, and dressed her in warm, clean clothing. As the girl told her story, "the old woman listened carefully and her mother-wit soon found a way out." Leaving Hanchi resting comfortably, the dame went to town and procured a mad dog, bound and muzzled. Once she had transported it home and put it into the box, she made sure to unbuckle the dog's muzzle. Soon Guruswami arrived to take possession of the box. "He came perfumed and singing", planning to have his way with captive Hanchi. Then he shoved the old woman out of her own home, locked the door from the inside to ensure privacy, and opened the crate. Didn't he get a surprise when "a hideous dog, foaming at the mouth...sprang upon him and mangled him horribly with its bites." He spat curses upon himself in his pitiful attempt to atone to a god who he believed had "transformed a woman into a dog" to teach him a lesson. The horrified neighbors came upon the bloody spectacle and killed the dog but Guruswami was already done for. He died after being "fatally infected with the dog's lunacy". Now it was up to the old woman to help Hanchi clear her name. So she secretly had the girl prepare sweet rice and other delicacies and invited the whole town to a feast. Everyone said that the food was delicious, and that the smell and taste was identical to the way that wicked Hanchi had used to prepare. But "instead of a reply, the old woman presented Hanchi in flesh and blood.' She told the true story of Guruswami, and all agreed that the wicked man and come to the end he deserved. They begged Hanchi's pardon for their own past ignorance and cruelty. She forgave them, of course. Her "good days had begun; her luck had turned and brought her every kind of happiness from that day."
From: Dundes, A. (1983) Cinderella: A Casebook. (p.263, contributed by A.K. Ramanujan) New York: Wildman Press
Notes: What a very satisfying ending Hanchi's abuser comes to! I especially enjoyed the prelude to his ultimate demise involving the rabid she-bufflao! This story had clear elements of Catskin, or Cap O' Rushes, as the incestous relationship threatened (here by brother, not father) is what causes the girl to flee. Notice the Baba-Yaga like character of the old woman, and that a cow, (water buffalo) aids the girl. And how does she aid the girl... This story is evocative of the Ramayana for its totally over the top imagery and moral teachings. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cinderella #360 Klêting Kuning

Cinderella #360 Klêting Kuning 
Not a stork, but a heron.
Once upon a time, in Java, there lived a girl named Klêting Kuning. Her name meant Yellow Waterjar. She had two sisters, named Klêting Abang, or Red Waterjar, and Klêting IJo, or Green Waterjar. Perhaps yellow was not her mother's favorite color, but for whatever reason, Klêting Kuning was her mother's least favorite child. While other two girls were "showered with beautiful clothes and given the most delicious food", poor Klêting Kuning worked hard and ate little. Still, she "had a good heart and a virtuous character". It served her well as she completed her tasks, including the long walk hauling the dirty laundry to the river to be washed. If it wasn't done to her mother's specifications, "she would be punished". It happened one day that the laundry was so heavy and the road to the river so long that Klêting Kuning simply sat down to cry. She lamented and called, "Oh Allah and deities, what have I done that I have to be so wretched. Please show me a way out." Suddenly, Bangko Thongthong, the "huge stork" appeared and said to her, "Don't  be afraid. I am not going to harm you, my coming is, in fact, to help you." Then it did all of the laundry, and "the washing was very cleanly done". Her mother was amazed and suspicious but there was nothing that she could do, so the stork helped Klêting Kuning every day. It happened that "there was a tiding that a prince by the name of Andė-Andė Lamut was looking for a spouse." He was interviewing wives and seeking applicants. Of course, Red Waterjar and Green Waterjar were carefully prepared, being "beautifully dressed and made-up" before being sent to try out. Meanwhile, Klêting Kuning saw them and asked what they were preparing for. When she heard, of course she begged to be taken along too. But they said, "That can't be. Don't you know that you are ugly, while we are beautiful?" And Klêting Kuning sat down  and shed tears. So Red Waterjar and Green Waterjar left their sister crying and headed for the prince's castle.  They journeyed on for some way but soon found their path blocked by a river that "was very deep and wide and there was no boat to cross them to the other bank." They were desperate! All they could think to do was to loudly lament, "Oh god, god, we wish that somebody would like to help us cross the river."  That's when they heard a voice. It was "a huge fresh-water crab, Yukang-kang". He could speak as well as any man, and see as well as any man too for he said, "Aha, aha, here are two beautiful virgins who are lamenting." And he bade them come near so that he could hear their woes. Then he told them, "I'll help if I am being rewarded" and demanded a kiss from each of the girls in return. Meanwhile, back at the river, Bango Thongthong, the magic stork was saying to Klêting Kuning,"Don't be sad. I understand that you are a good girl and I am sure that the gods know that too." Then Klêting Kuning begged to know who the stork really was, and he confessed that "As a matter of fact, I am the messenger of the gods." And Yellow Waterjar said, "Oh your Holiness, I am very sorry for being improper to you. Please forgive me." So he forgave her and blessed her with a "magic coconut palm leaf" which he said hoped she would be able to put to good use. So Yellow Waterjar told the stork that she would do her best, and went back home. Her mother still refused to let her go to the prince Andė-Andė Lamut. But Yellow Waterjar begged so hard that at last her mother said, "Go then if you want, but go as you are now, don't wash yourself nor change your clothes." When she got the river with no boat she too called to Yulukangkang for help, but the crab refused to come and give assistance. So she "whipped her...magic cocoanut palm leaf rib strongly toward the water and the water dried up in a wink of the eye." Then it was easy for Yellow Waterjar to cross! But she flicked her palm leaf again, and the river's water returned. Now it is true that Red Waterjar and Green Waterjar got to the prince's compound before their sister. Unfortunately, he had heard all about how they'd been kissed by the crab as payment for help in crossing the river. He didn't want anything to do with those used girls. Finally, Yellow Waterjar made it to the palace, only to be "dismissed rudely"by the prince's mother because she was dressed in her dirty old rags. But the prince was watching and made his mother let the strange girl in. He gave orders for her to be bathed and dressed in finery, "and really, after being dressed and made up Klêting Kuning looked as beautiful as a fairy". Then he knew that she would be his bride. "A wedding party was held for forty days and nights, and Klêting Kuning and Andė-Andė Lumut lived in harmony thereafter like mimi lan mintuna (female horsehoe and male horseshoe crab)."
From: Dundes, A. (1983) Cinderella: A Casebook. New York: Wildman Press (p.173)
Notes: This story has several quintessential Cinderella elements, right alongside some of the more unusual. The stork, as a bird, is the commonest of all animal helpers; the crab, I think, is unique to the 365 Cinderellas presented here. The fact that Klêting Kuning makes her own way across the river, without the help of the crab that aids her sisters, allows her to stay pure, and thus, desirable to the prince. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cinderella #359 Golden Bells

Cinderella #359  Golden Bells
Illustration by
Maurice Sendak
Once upon a time, in Italy, there was a princess named Florine. Her father was the king and her mother was dying. One day, the Queen enjoined her to "above all things to take care of [the]little white lamb, or disaster will ensue." Later, when her mother is gone and her father has remarried, Florine does her best to care for the wooly little animal. It is not easy to keep an eye on this particular beast, because her new stepmother has a large flock of sheep which she makes Florine pasture each day. The stepmother's own daughter, Truitonne, lounges at home and eats dainties. But for her meals, Florine is given only  a "tiny piece of black bread, hard as stone." Luckily for her though, she has learned that if she "strikes [the] right ear of the lamb [a] well spread table" appears! Meanwhile, Truitonne complains to her mother that Florine does not appear to be going hungry, and the two of them become suspicious. The stepmother makes Truitonne agree to follow her sister to the sheep pasture to see what her secret is. Yet when Florine discovers Truitonne spying on her, she invites her stepsister to share her hard bread with her. The girls talk and share the bread, and Florine offers to braid Truitonne's hair. With soothing strokes Florine brushes and twists her stepsister's hair, and soon Truitonne is fast asleep. That is when Florine strikes her lamb's ear, receives her feast, and eats her fill. Then she strike's her pet's left ear, and the remains are cleared away. When Truitonne wakes up and goes home, she admits to her mother that she did not learn the secret of Florine's source of food. So Truitonne is made to go again the following day. Feigning sleep after her hair is combed, Truitionne discovers her stepsister's secret. Key to getting rid of Florine as a competing marriageable maiden is cutting off her food supply; therefore a plan is hatched to get rid of the lamb. One night at dinner, the stepmother begins to moan and groan. She takes to her bed and refused to eat for many days, claiming that only the meat of a certain lamb will cure her." The king at first objects to killing Florine's pet but then consents". So the lamb calls Florine to her and tells her that she must collect all of the lamb's bones and "put them on [the] pear tree, whose branches then will be decked with little golden bells". These little bells will "ring without ceasing; if they are silent, it will betoken ill". Everything then happens as the lamb predicts: she is killed, Florine saves and cleans her bones, hangs them on the pear tree, and they do turn into golden bells. One day, the king of a neighboring land is passing by, and hears the bells ringing. Their tone is so lovely that he decides on the spot that the maiden who can gather him a bouquet of bells So the king asks all the maidens to try, but none can. When he asks Florine's stepmother, the woman helps Truionne to reach up. But the tree only pulls its branches higher, and she cannot reach the bells. Now the king insists on knowing if there isn't another maiden in the household. Of course there is but the queen says that the only other girl is "only fit to mind the sheep". The king however, declares that he will see her, and sits down to wait. Sure enough, back she comes before sunset with her flock of sheep. She calls out to the tree, "Little pear tree, bend for me to pick your bells." So the pear tree bends down and she harvests the bells, and gives them to the king. Then he takes her back to his palace and they are married. But before long, her husband the king is called to war. Now Florine falls ill, and one day, her stepmother is called to her bedside. Quick as a flash, the wicked stepmother has Florine hurled into the river. She substitutes her own daughter Truitonne in the sick bed, and sits down to await the king. But as soon as Florine hits the water the golden bells stop ringing. Now Florine's husband the king, who has been able to hear the bells ringing no matter how far away he has been, is startled by the sudden silence. Knowing that this can only   bode ill for Florine, he heads for home. Just as he is passing the river, he sees a "hand coming up out of the water. [He] seizes it and draws forth Florine, who is still alive." They return to his palace at once where Truitonne and her wicked mother are sentenced to be hanged. But Florine invites her father to to the palace and she  live on in happiness with her husband the king and her father, the other king. 
From: Cox, M. R. (1893/2011) Cinderella: Three Hundred Forty Five Variants of of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O'Rushes. (p.200) Cornell University Digital Library Collection
Notes: There are variants with oranges, apples, and pomegranates growing on branches just out of reach, but this is the first I have seen bells. A classic "magic bones" story with a common Mediterranean helper animal, the lamb. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Cinderella #357
Notes: I think that this is in Sinhalese, though not sure. Can't i.d. the flag in background either.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cinderella #356 Moon Brow

Cinderella #356 Moon Brow
You think this looks bad? How's about
a donkey's penis on your forehead?
Illustration by Martinez. 
Once upon a time, in Afghanistan, there lived a merchant who "enrolled his daughter in the madraseh". The teacher, a woman, learned that the merchant was quite well off and so began to scheme. One day, she "asked the girl what they had in the house, and the girl replied,'Vinegar." Now the teacher went to work planting seeds of malice in the girl's heart. Soon, she had won over the child's loyalty, and was easily able to convince the girl to ask for some vinegar from the huge barrel. When her mother got it for her, she was to "push her in and cover the storage jar", then tell her father that her mother had slipped. So the merchant found his dead wife in the jug and a new "yellow cow in his stable". Before the month was out, the merchant married the teacher. So now he had a wife AND a cow. He put the girl in charge of pasturing the cow. Now her stepmother became pregnant, and came to resent the other little girl. So each day when she sent her out with the cow she gave her only "one piece of rotten bread to eat", and orders to clean and spin a tow of raw cotton while the cow grazed. But the girl did not know how to spin, and so, once alone in the field, despaired. That is when she heard a voice. It was the cow, telling her to give her both the rotten bread and the raw cotton to eat. Then the cow ate the bread and cotton and "shat cotton thread until evening". This continued for three days in a row, with morning and evening breaks for going back to the merchant's home. On the third day, a brisk wind blows away the ball of cotton thread, and it tumbles straight "down a well". Before she could climb down after it, the cow gave her special instructions. She would see "an old woman bārzangī" whom she was to greet by saying, "Salām". When the old woman asked her to "delouse my hair", she was to answer "Your hair is perfectly all right, it's cleaner than mine", and then delouse her. So the girl went down the well and sure enough, there she met the old woman, and all proceeded as the yellow cow told her it would. Then the old one tells her "to take her cotton from a certain room" where she will also see precious gems. The girl enters the room, sees the jewels, as well as her cotton, and takes her thread back. She bids the old woman goodbye and begins to climb the ladder out of the well. Halfway up it gives a terrible shaek: it is the old woman frisking her for the possibility of stolen jewels. Since no jewels have been taken, "the old woman prays for her to have a moon in the center of her brow". At the top, the woman gives her another blessing, saying, "May you have a star on your chin." She warns the girl to keep her veil on tightly so that her stepmother can't see these on her face.  Then the girl goes home. That night, the veil slips off of her face, and the moo and star are seen by her family. By now, the stepmother has become suspicious of the speed at which this girl spins cotton. So the next day, she send her own girl out with the cow. She doesn't give her rotten bread to eat but instead sweet bread. For three days the cow eats sweet bread and shits cotton thread. But not as much as when she was on the rotten-bread diet. On the third day a gust of wind blows the thread down the well. Again the yellow cow counsels the girl about the woman down the well, and what she must say and do when she goes below. But this girl is greedy and rude, and when the old woman in the well asks for help with her hair, the girl says, "Your hair is filthy, my mother's is clean.' When the old one tells her where to find her thread, the girl grabs some jewels as well, which fall when the old woman shakes the ladder. So she curses the girl, saying, "May a donkey's penis grow from your forehead!" And then she adds, "And a snake from your chin!". When the girl gets home, her mother is horrified. She cuts the penis and the snake off of her daughter's face, and makes a poultice with salt, but "both objects reappear over night". By now the good daughter has figured out the true identity of the yellow cow: she is her mother. So she begins feeding her on "candied chickpeas and bread". Of course, soon the stepmother declares that she is ill, and that the only cure for her is the meat of the yellow cow. When the cow's daughter comes to feed her that night, the cow cries out, "They'll kill me today!" Then she warns her child of the hardships to come, and tells her what to do. She is not to eat any of the meat, but to save the bones and hide them in a bag, which she is to bury. The cow is then butchered, and the girl follows her mother's directions. The next day, the stepmother feels well enough to take her own daughter to attend "a wedding in another city". So she "cuts off the penis and snake and applies salt to the wounds". Then she mixes a large measure of millet with some tiny togũ seeds, and commands her stepdaughter to sort them out before she returns, and "to fill the pool with tears." When she is left alone, the girl begins to cry. The tears are no problem, but how can she ever sort those seeds? Suddenly, she sees "a hen with a lot of chickens come into the garden. The hen speaks, telling the girl to put salt and water into the pool, take the horse and good clothes she will find in the stable, and go to the wedding." Her little chicks will sort out the seeds. She must hurry home from the wedding, and on the way, "one of your shoes will fall into the water; don't stop to get it" for fear of discovery.  That is how the girl comes to be at the wedding, dressed in finery, when her stepsister recognized her, and says to her mother, "That is our Māhpishāanī. [Moon-Brow]". So Moon-Brow runs home, but on the way, one shoe falls off in the water. She doesn't go back for it, and is dressed in rags sorting the last of the seeds when her stepmother gets home. "Two days later, a prince is riding by the waterside, and his horse refuses to drink." That's when the prince sees a shoe in the water, and bends to pick it up. He takes it home and tells his father that he desires to marry the one who lost the dainty shoe. So "the king and his viziers try the shoe on everyone and all wish that it would fit, but it does not." When the king and his party near the home of Moon-Brow, her stepmother pushes her into the bread oven and bars the door, so that there is only one young woman in the house who may try on the shoe. Just then, "a cock flies up on top of the oven, and begins to crow,'A moon in the oven! A head is in thee, kūku!"That is how the girl is discovered. Of course, the king makes her try on the shoe, and it fits, so "she marries the prince".
From: Dundes, A. (1982) Cinderella: A Casebook. (p.185) New York: Wildman Press
Notes: This so reminds me of the English folk tale of Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar! Also quite interesting similarities to the Spanish Cinderella, Little Gold Star, and the Italian, Ugly Cinderella (La Brutta Cinderella # 83 ) Note the presence of the Baba Yaga-like character, and the similarity with The Talking Eggs, (Cinderella #19 )an African American tale in which the girls are similarly tested. Dundes' notes include the facts that this story, in traditional Afghan culture, is the exclusive province of women. So much so that "an accomplished storyteller with a huge repertoire of of both folktales and romances, professed not to know the story and refused to perform it." The story is traditionally told within the context of rituals associated with "Soup for the Lady of Wishing", an ancient passion play not unlike the Catholic Stations of the Cross. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cinderella #354 From Cinderella to CEO

Cinderella #354 From Cinderella to CEO
Grimm's Fairy Tales
Follett Publishing Company
Once upon a time, there was a woman named Cary J. Broussard. She co-wrote a book with Anita Bell, giving tips for successful businesswomen using fairy tale metaphors. She worked her own way up the professional ladder, eventually finding "a way to turn one fairy tale into reality." It was in 1995 when Broussard "developed Women On Their Way (WOTW) for Wyndham International Hotel Company." Targeting women business travelers, WOTW was a first in the hospitality industry. In "a partnership formed with major women's organizations" that mentor women's careers, Broussard encountered many difficulties in making that program such a success, but she did accomplish her goals.  The contemporary woman in business "get picked apart and put down, cast out and lost in the woods, but they still survive and excel." Every woman can benefit from reading fairy tales, IF she understands how to follow the heroine's lead. From Cinderella To Ceo gives you the confidence" to pursue your dreams, say Broussard and Bell. Here is what they have to say about our friend, Cinderella:" Picture Yourself at the Palace and Find a Fairy Godmentor" ! In practical terms this means behaving "as if you belong at the ball" always being mindful to "display the best qualities of a CEO, wherever you are in the hierarchy." You've got to keep yourself motivated by taking "inspiration from real-life Cinderella stories" and polish up those daydreams. By visualizing the nitty gritty details of how you'd like your ideal job to roll, (i.e. your rise to the princess with everything) and picturing "yourself at the palace", you can make it happen. Get a mentor. A "fairy godmentor"!The way to do this is to be worthy of mentoring, so nurturing relationships with people who can help you will pay off. And that is a kind of magic in itself. Magic circles, those ancient symbols of power and protection are invoked here.The Greek word "omphalos", meaning the navel of the world. This is physically said to be located in Greece. The term also can be used metaphorically, meaning the center of everything. If a woman is mentored and becomes a success, she should draw a magic circle around herself and invite young women into this space of power. Finally, be true to Cinderella. As that fair maiden did not let her foul circumstances sour her outlook on life, so must we "never diminish [ourselves] by seeking revenge." A princess never lowers her head; nor must we to look down on others or dwell in the past. 
From: Broussard, C.J. & Bell, A. (2005) From Cinderella to CEO: How to Master the 10 Lessons  of Fairy Tales to Transform Your Work Life. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Notes; I like this book. I like it very much! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cinderella #353 Pernette (1558)

Cinderella #353 Pernette (1558)
Trees at dusk. 
Once upon a time, in Lyon, there lived a girl named Pernette. She was "the daughter of a merchant who had retired to a farm is desired by a neighboring squire." She certainly is not desired by her mother and older sister. They make her do all sorts of outlandish things, including picking up "with her tongue, grain by grain a bushel of scattered barley. Still, they can't seem to keep Pernette's spirits down. Against all odds, it is Pernette, rather than her favored older sister, who catches the eyes of a wealthy young man. Of course her father, "seeing that Pernette's proposed marriage displeases his wife, forces Pernette to wear an ass's skin in the hope that her lover will be disgusted with her." But he is not! He finds girls in hairy ass's skins, with their big floppy ears and gray fur, really hot! So he proposes to Pernette anyway. "The mother consents to the marriage if Pernette will perform her difficult task." This task is not specified in our version, dearest reader. We are only told that "the ants help her" perform it. And then "she is married". 
From: Dundes, A. (1983) Cinderella: A Casebook. (p.74) New York Wildman Press
Notes: Anyone who has ever witnessed the spectacle of an ant column...leading to the honey jar on your counter, knows the power of ants. Who says an ANT cant' move a RUBBER TREE plant! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cinderella #352 Cinderella in China
These fish are so beautiful! I love the
color of the green water. It is a photograph
that I cut from the SF Chronicle. (with scissors; it has been on my bulletin board
for a year.) I think these are trout. Or are they salmon?
Once upon a time, there was a man named Alan Dundes. He edited a very famous book analyzing Cinderella stories from all over the world. This is what he had to say about "Cinderella in China". It is important to get story versions "from every single part of the world where a particular text exists", so that all may be compared across themes, symbols, and characters. It's prudent "before we become lost in the mists of controversy,to examine a particular series of stories"to see how they fit into the greater body of that story. Distilled from "the several thousand variants, written and oral, many of which friends" gave him, the Chinese Cinderella (CC) tale runs like this:
"Once upon a time, there was a little girl who suffered. Her sufferings were various and terrible." Often, a stepmother who is actually an impostor (not a wife but a witch) forces her to do impossible tasks and beats her for failing. Even her father abuses her and misunderstands her. Occasionally, Chinese Cinderella, "disgusted by the exaggerations of her sisters, tells him that she loves him like salt". Even though "everyone knows that [salt] is necessary to happiness", her father still "banishes her or attempts to have her killed". But the worst kind of suffering for CC is incestual. As in Catskins, sometimes her father desires her sexually. CC "tests this love by demanding that he give her three of the most beautiful dresses." Often these are the colors of the moon, the sun, and the sky at dawn. Ultimately, she is left alone, often in the wilderness, with little means of survival. But, as in Cinderella stories everywhere, her animal helpers save the day, and tress play a significant role. "A tree on her mother's grave or animals of the sky, land, and water, give her advice and pretty clothes." Thus, she not only survives, but thrives.  A young prince spies her, and is captivated by her beauty. But "our little friend is no brazen hussy, nor have her sufferings made her bold and gasping." When they meet at the festival, fate intervenes. "She flees. He finds her slipper. Her writes a proclamation. He is undeterred by the schemes of the wicked sisters....They are married."
From: Dundes, A. (1986) Cinderella: A Casebook. (p.73) New York: Wildman Press
Notes: This book is one of those which actually feel physically good in the hand. There is no comparison with a paperback, or a cheaply printed modern book. Even though 1983 wasn't that long ago (it actually wasn't!)the book has a quaint feeling to it. Ironically, the M. R. Cox book that I have is a lavender paperback with microscopic print, a true headache to read .Oh, for an 1893 copy! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cinderella #351 Cinderella and Company: Backstage at the Opera With Cecilia Bartoli (Hoelterhoff, M.)

Photo courtesy of the
Metropolitan Opera

Cinderella #351 Cinderella and Company: Backstage at the Opera With Cecilia Bartoli (Hoelterhoff, M.)
Once upon a time, in Italy, were two young men named Gioacchino Rossini and Jacopo Ferretti. The year was 1816, and they were under contract to come up with a new opera. Fast. So they did what many others have done, before and since: they turned to a story they already knew, and gussied it up quite a bit. The story was La Cenerentola, and the leading role is Cinderella. Ms.Bartoli's life was enough fairy tale elements to make this role an especially close fit. Born "on a modest street in Rome", where "the Fiat is the coach of choice" . Although little Cecilia was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth, she had something better: talent. And though she did not have a fairy godmother, she did get "a lucky break". All of the pieces came together to propel her to fame. Soon, she was one of the most famous opera singers in the world. In October, 1997, Pulitzer prize winning journalist Manuela Hoelterhoff began work on a biography of Ms. Bartoli. She would spend the next two years of the life following Cecilia Bartoli as she sang in London, Rome, Paris, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Venice,Italy. The result is: Cinderella and Company: Backstage at the Opera with Cecilia Bartoli (1998) New York: Alfred A. Knopf
Notes: See Cinderella # 116 and Cinderella #137 for other versions of Rossini's La Cenerentola

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cinderella #349 The Maiden, the Frog, and the Chief's Son

Cinderella #349 The Maiden, the Frog, and the Chief's Son
Illustration by
Once upon a time, somewhere in Nigeria, there was a man who had a pair of wives. Each woman gave birth to a girl. "And one wife, together with her daughter, he couldn't abide; but the other, with her daughter, he dearly loved." Ill luck came, and the hated wife died, leaving her poor child "with no mother of her own, just her father" and her stepmother. That cruel woman made the little girl "go off to the bush to gather the wood. When she returned, she had to pound the fura. Then she had the tuwo to pound, and after that, to stir." But she wasn't allowed to eat but "the burnt bits at the bottom of the pot". Luckily for her, she did have "an elder brother, and he invited her to come eat regularly at his home." At home, she was not given even water to drink, but made to go "to the borrow-pit". She brought her scrapings along to feed to the frogs who thrived there, "and the frogs would come up and start eating the scrapings." So things went for some time. The time of the big Festival came along, and that morning, when this girl came to the pit. a frog spoke to her. It said,"Maiden, you've always been very kind to us, and now we — but you just come along tomorrow morning. " The frogs would then "be kind to you, in our turn", he told her. So she said that she would come. Yet first thing the next morning, her stepmother began to berate her for laziness, and gave her double the amount of chores to do before she could so much as go for a drink of water. Finally she was allowed to go. When she got to the pit, the frog said, "Tut-tut, girl. I've been waiting her since morning, and you never came." To which she retorted, "Old fellow, you see, I'm a slave." She told him that her mother had died, and that she'd been put in the care of her stepmother, who hated her. "Says the frog,'Girl, give us your hand.' And she held it out to him and they both leaped into the water." Then he swallowed her, and whorfed her back up again. She was now "quite straight". And then he "vomited up cloths for her, and bangles and rings. and a pair of shoes, one of silver, one of gold."Then he told her to go along to the Festival, only that she must leave her golden shoe there, just as the festivities ended.  So this she did. When she got to the Festival, the first person who noticed her was the chief's son. He was so taken by her that he spent the entire evening by her side. dancing and talking. When the music stopped, the girl kicked off one of her shoes and set off for home, but the chief's son followed her. "Presently, she said 'Chief's Son, you must go back now." And he honored her request. When she got home, she ran to the borrow-pit and met the frog. He swallowed her again, and when he had vomited her up, she was "just as she had been before, a sorry sight." Then she went and told her stepmother that she was not feeling good. That woman replied,"Rascally slut! You have been up to no good, refusing to come home,refusing to fetch water or wood, refusing to pound the fura or make the tuwo! Very well then. No food for you today!" So the girl went hungry. But that same day, an announcement came from the Chief. "All the girls, young and old" were to come and try on a certain gold shoe found by the chief's son. Yet when all had been gathered, the shoe fit none. Then "someone said,'Just a minute! There's that girl in so-and-so's compound, whose mother died." So she was found, and brought forward. And "the minute she arrived to try it on, the shoe itself, of its own accord, ran across and made her foot get into it." And the chief's son watched, and exclaimed, "Right! Here's my wife!"So he proposed right then and there and too her back to his compound. In the morning when she went outside, there was the frog. She said to him, "Welcome, old fellow!" And he told her that "tonight, we shall be along to bring some things for you." In the evening, there was a chorus of frogs around her hut. The leader told all assembled that the girl was his daughter, and that for her wedding, each frog should contribute as much as he could. So each brought according to his own wealth,and the chief frog "thanked them all, then vomited up a silver bed, a brass bed, a copper bed and and iron bed." He also brought up blankets and dishes, and other fine things. Then the frog gave her special instructions regarding how she must act within the household. If she felt troubled, she must "lie down on the brass bed". When her sister wives came to greet her, she must "give them two calabashes of cola nuts and ten thousand cowrie shells; then when his concubines come to greet you, give them one calabash of cola-nuts and five thousand cowrie shells." So, this is just what the girl did, making friends with the wives and concubines. But one night, her stepmother snuck into the compound, and forced her stepdaughter to allow her stepsister to change places with her. But the next day, when the other wives came to greet the new wife again, the young woman gave them "a Pf of contempt". And when the concubines came, she cleared her throat, then "hawk[ed] and spit" at them. You see, this was what her sister had told her to do! Well, the chief's son also noticed a suspicious change in the behavior of his newest wife, and came to investigate. What he heard only confirmed his suspicion, So he called to his men, and they found the false wife and "chopped her up into little pieces." Then he went to the stepmother and demanded his wife back. He took her to his compound, "and next morning, when it was light, she picked up little gourd water bottle and going around behind her hut, there saw the frog. " She thanked him again, and told him that what she would like best of all would be for a well to be built, so that all of the frog folk could come and live near her. "All right,' said the frog,' You tell your husband.' And she did so." Then the Chief's son ordered a well dug, "and the frogs came and entered the well. That's all. Kungurus kan kusu." 
From: Dundee, A. (1982) Cinderella: A Casebook.  New York: Garland Publishing Inc. 
Notes: This story shows something of the history of frogs in African mythology, where they are said to be virile symbols of masculinity, sort of amphibian ladies' men. Remember the folk song, "Froggie Went A' Courting"? The cultural roots run deep. Author Dundee concludes that this story was imported, rather than a true part of the Nigerian folklore. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cinderella #347 Little Sister and the Month Brothers (Schenk de Regniers)

Cinderella #347 Little Sister and the Month Brothers (Schenk de Regniers)
Illustration by
Margot Tomes
Once upon a time, in what is now the Slovak Republic, there lived "this girl. We don't know her name, but everyone called her Little Sister." She lived in a small dark hut with a mean stepsister and a cruel stepmother. These two made Little Sister do all of the hardest work, and believe me, there was a lot of that needed, just to get by. Sweeping, mopping and scrubbing were only a part of her day; she also had to spin wool, weave cloth, and mend clothes. Plus, milk the cow twice a day. Yet no matter how hard she worked, Little Sister kept her cool. "Most of the time, she sang or hummed while she worked."She seemed to grow prettier with each passing day, and, for some reason, her stepsister began to appear uglier. This the stepmother could not stand. She thought and thought, and finally contrived a plan to get rid of Little Sister. One subzero morning, Stepmother commanded Little Sister to go and find her "fresh violets....She pushed Little Sister outside, and told her not to come back without fresh violets." Then she slammed the door. Little Sister had barely taken a half dozen steps when she began to shake and shiver: she was not even wearing her cloak. The snow whirled around her, and she felt numb. In a moment, she thought, she would lie down and rest. Just then, she saw "a light shining high above the trees." It seemed to be coming from the top of great boulder. She scrambled up, and this is what she saw on the peak. "Twelve men were standing in a circle around a big fire." Three were youths, three grown men. "Their looked tall and strong and their capes were of green and gold." The three oldest gentleman "had brown beards and wore woolen capes of gold and brown." They could only be "the Month Brothers". Brother January asked the child what she was doing in the cold forest, and ,when he heard her plight, implored his brothers to help her. So "he passed his staff to February. An icy wind began to blow." Around the circle it was passed, finally reaching April. "Take the staff, Brother April," said January. "Only you can give us violets." So April did, and caused "a shower of warm rain" and soon, "in a circle around Brother April, there was a carpet of blue violets." So Little Sister quickly filled her apron, thanked the brothers, and hurried home. But Stepmother was not pleased to see Little Sister when she got home, violets or no. She snatched the bouquet, and shoved her right back out the door. This time, she demanded strawberries! Poor Little Sister nearly died from cold before she stumbled into the fire circle of the month brothers again. With some concern, Brother January asked why she had returned. Of course, when her heard of her need, he passed his staff round again, this time until it reached June. But Brother June told Little Sister to take just 5 of the berries home, and that is why Stepmother beat the girl when she got there. Now Stepsister, who had greedily eaten those berries and desired more, said she would go and find the old men in the woods. She flounced out the door in her furs and woolens. She had not gone far before she began to shiver and shake with cold. However she could see a fire up ahead, so she pressed on. Without so much as a by-your-leave, she seated herself before the fire. Then she demanded to know which one was the strawberry man? She needed a basketful, she declared. At this, Brother January "swung his staff in the air. The wind blew. The snow fell thick and fast. " The old brothers, their fire, all was lost in a swirl of white, flying snow. Stepsister soon disappeared into the storm. At home, Stepmother became worried. What was keeping the girl so long? She too bundled into her warmest things and set out. But she did not go far, for Brother January saw her go out and blew some more. Meanwhile, back at the cabin, "Little Sister waited and waited" but her cruel family members never came back. In fact, "no one ever saw them again." Little Sister went back to humming and whistling as she worked, and soon, the seasons turned. Spring came, and summer. The Month Brothers remembered good hearted Little Sister, and graced her garden with extra bounty. "One day, an honest farmer came to the door and asked Little Sister to marry him, and she did." She and her husband lived for many, many years "in peace and happiness". 
From: Beatrice Schenk de Reginiers (1976) Little Sister and the Month Brothers. New York: Marshall Cavendish
Notes: I just adore Margot Tomes' artwork. Here we get accurate drawings of a spinning wheel in use. This story has several variations, in some there is a Baba Yaga figure.