Jun 29, 2010

Fairy Tale Origins - Part VII

I’m sure most people are familiar with the Grimms’ version of Rumplestiltskin. A miller boasts that he has a beautiful daughter who can spin straw into gold. A passing noble hears this, tells the king and the girl is taken away and told to get spinning.

Fortunately she's helped by a little man who shows up and offers to help in exchange for a small trinket. This goes on for three nights, and by the third night the girl is promising the little man her first born child in return for his help. On the third morning, the king decides to marry this pretty girl who can produce gold out of straw.

They eventually have a son, and the little man shows up demanding his due. Naturally the queen doesn’t want to give up her child so they strike a new bargain. If she can guess his name, she gets to keep her child. The little man gives her three days. She tries everything but comes up short, until a passing woodsman overhears the little man bragging about how he's so clever no one will guess his name. He immediately tells the queen, who repeats it to the little man. Rumplestiltskin is so angry he stamps his foot hard enough to get it stuck in the floor. He pulls so hard to get himself free that he ends up tearing himself in half.

For the full version, click HERE

The story of Rumpelstiltskin is classified by Aarne and Thompson as folklore type 500 (The Name of the Helper). If you’d like to have a look at their full index, click HERE. You can also find it categorized as an Impossible Task, a Hard Bargain, the Changeling Child, and, above all, the Secret Name.

As with the other fairy tales we’ve explored, variations of Rumplestiltskin can be found in almost every culture that depended on spinning for clothing, although the name and some of the details vary.

In the English version, ''Tom Tit Tot'', a girl eats five pies and the king overhears her mother scolding her. The woman lies and said she had been talking of the five skeins her daughter had spun, and that speed of spinning was what interested him.

A Swedish tale tells of a woman whose daughter was beautiful but lazy. In an effort to try and cure her, the woman sends her up to the roof of their cottage to spin so that everyone can see how lazy she is. When a king’s son happens by and asks what’s going on, the woman tells him her daughter is “so clever that she can spin gold out of clay and long straw”. He doesn’t realize the woman is being sarcastic, and takes the girl away to spin gold out of clay and straw.

In the Three Spinners it is three women who assist the girl. However, they do not demand her first born, only an invitation to her wedding and to say that they’re her relatives. She complies, and is freed from her hated spinning when they tell the king that their hideous looks spring from their endless spinning.

Rumpelstiltskin is most commonly described as a cautionary tale against bragging even though it’s not the miller but his daughter that is punished for the lies. Tales such as these were used to stop children from playing outside without care, and mothers from leaving their children in danger.

In a more modern interpretation, Rumpelstiltskin Syndrome is used to describe the practice in middle-management to impose unreasonable work demands on subordinates. Upon completion of the task or tasks in question, equal or higher work demands are then imposed; moreover, no credit, acknowledgement, or overt appreciation is demonstrated by way of recognition.

Though not as dark as the previous fairy tales in this series, Rumplestiltskin holds a subliminal message for women. The act of spinning straw into gold can be seen as a metaphor for the value of household skills. The king in this tale seems more interested in the girl’s ability to spin than her beauty, showing that it's the industrious woman who makes the good marriage.

Jun 28, 2010

Multifarious Monday

multifarious ~ having great diversity; manifold

Last week went pretty well (knock wood). I made it to my Scribe’s meeting on Monday night, and even remembered my poetry group meeting on Tuesday night. I got all my posts written and posted on time, except for my flash piece on my Random Writings blog, which I wrote and then forgot to post until later in the day.

I finally settled on a format for the Random Writings blog. Monday’s I'm going to post a writing prompt – it might be in words, it might be a picture – and then I’m going to give anyone who cares to participate the rest of the week to think about it and then write a flash piece about it. I’ll post my own piece on Friday, and anyone else who plays can either e-mail theirs to me for posting (carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com) or post it in the comments. Wednesdays I’m going to impart some pearls of wisdom about writing, and then Friday, of course, will be the flash post.

Friday I decided that if I’m going to waste time on the computer I might as well waste it doing something more constructive than play games, so I logged on to the Absolute Write forum. It’s been a while since I’ve been there and I signed up for the “Finish the Damn Book” Challenge. The rules are pretty simple: You have to do something, anything, to your novel before you can log onto the internet; you can’t start a new project until your current one is finished; you must set a daily, weekly, or monthly goal – it should be your absolute minimum number of words for the time period specified. The hardest part is not logging onto the internet as soon as the lap top boots up.

This Week’s Goals:

Tuesday: Part VII of my fairy tale series will take a look at Rumpelstiltskin.

Wednesday: Will feature a new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure. If you have any preferences, let me know. I’m always willing to do a little research. ;-)

Thursday: This week’s Passion for Poetry is the French form of Rime Couée .

Friday: Chapter 44 of the Space Opera. However are Chaney and Nakeisha going to pass the time while waiting for the wind to die down?

Elsewhere in my week:

Umm. There’s a poetry reading in the next town over tonight that I might go to. It should be interesting – there’s going to be a performance poet doing a reading, and some actor is going to read the entire Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Mid-week will see the start of the Canada Day celebrations in town, which means avoid driving downtown at all costs. :-) Seriously, there’s a waterfront festival going on and traffic is insane. Not as insane as what went on in Toronto for the G20 Summit, but insane for a small town.

If you want to know what’s happening this week on my Random Writings blog, click HERE

And that pretty much sums up my week. How about you? Any interesting preparations for the upcoming holidays? (My preparation consisted of planting patriotic red and white impatiens in my front garden.)

Jun 24, 2010


Because the décima had its start in Spain, much of its early history is in Spanish and unfortunately I only took one year of Spanish in high school. :-)

For the Spanish in the 14th and 15th centuries, the décima was a term used to describe any 10 line stanza. The form was developed by Vencinente Espinela into a verse form and was commonly referred to as “the little sonnet.”

The décima was also one of the most popular song forms in fifteenth-century Spain and has had a very strong presence in Latin America (Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Mexico), where it is still commonly heard. While the décima refers to a ten-line stanza of poetry, the song form generally consists of forty-four lines (an introductory four-line stanza followed by four ten-line stanzas).

The décima deals with a wide range of subject matter, including themes that are philosophical, religious, lyrical, and political. Humorous décimas typically would satirize an individual's weakness or foolish act. A decimero (someone who creates a décima) would frequently challenge the target of the satire or his/her defender to respond in kind with a décima, thereby setting up a song duel that tested the originality and wit of contending composers.

The structure and rhyme scheme of the Décima looks like this:


While a modern décima may have any number of stanzas, I chose to stick to the original “little sonnet” format of a single, ten line stanza.

Evening Song

Skin still warm from the summer sun
Glimmering in the fading light
Waiting until the moment’s right
Waiting until the day is done
Waiting for that special someone
The touch, the taste, the feel of him
The bending to another’s whim
Anticipation building slow
Reach the peak and then overflow
The moment caught, too soon to dim.

Jun 23, 2010

Hump Day Hunks

How come something this nice can't wash up on the beaches around here? ;-)

Jun 22, 2010

Fairy Tale Origins - Part VI

Rapunzel has always been one of my favorite fairy tales, and like most people the version I’m most familiar with comes from the brothers Grimm. Rather than take up an entire post with the synopsis, you can go HERE to read this version if you’re unfamiliar with it.

The origin of the tale is thought to go back as far as the early years of Christianity in 3rd Century Asia Minor with the legend of Saint Barbara. Barbara was the beautiful daughter of a pagan merchant. Afraid that she might become attracted to an unworthy suitor, he locked her in a tower away from the outside world.

While her father was away on an extended trip, Barbara converted to Christianity. This enraged him so much he took her before the Roman pro-consul. The judge ordered that the girl be tortured until she denounced her beliefs. When Barbara refused to recant, the judge ordered her to be beheaded – a sentence which was carried out by her father. Afterwards, he was struck by lightening and consumed by fire. Revered by the Eastern Orthodox Church, St. Barbara is now the patron saint of firefighters, artillerymen and anyone who is in danger of sudden death.

The first literary traces of the tale come from Italy, with Giambattista Basile's “Petrosinella” (1637), the name derived from “petrosine” for parsley. This tells a tale of a pregnant woman desiring some parsley from the garden of an ogress, getting caught, and having to promise the ogress her baby.

“Petrosinella” contains many of the elements of today’s Rapunzel -- the mother forced to give up her daughter, the maiden with the long hair, and the handsome prince. The main difference is that the maiden and the Prince spend many nights together before they are caught and suffer little after escaping. They use magic acorns to stay ahead of the ogress and she is finally devoured by a wolf.

Sixty years later in 1697, a French version, by Charlotte Rose de Caumont de la Force, appeared. Her story is "Persinette", taken from “persille” which again means parsley. In this version it is a fairy who raises the girl after taking her from her mother. The fairy punishes Persinette and her Prince after discovering that the young woman is pregnant with twins. Persinette is banished to the wilderness and the prince’s eyes are pierced by thorns. Even after the couple and their children are reunited the fairy punishes them until she is finally moved by their love and forgives them.

The Grimms’ first version, in 1812, almost completely follows the earlier plots. The enchantress who keeps Rapunzel in the tower was initially a fairy, however the Grimms often edited fairies out of their stories, because they considered them to be too French. In this version, Rapunzel wonders why her clothes are getting tight alluding that her daily meetings with the prince in the tower have resulted in pregnancy.

At first the Grimms believed their folk tales would only be of interest to scholars, but soon they realized they had a large readership among children and their parents. In later versions of the story they made the sexual references more ambiguous and by the last edition (1857) had eliminated them altogether. Instead they created a chaste young woman who was referred to as the “wife” of the prince to rule out any suspicion that the children (who seemed to magically appear) were born out of wedlock.

The themes of Rapunzel's story are universal and timeless. Who hasn’t craved something that comes at too high a price, or felt imprisoned by someone else’s demands? We’ve all been swept away by love only to end up lost and broken, desperately hoping for that happy ending to our suffering. The story may be even more significant for anyone given up by a birth parent or raised by controlling, over-protective parents.

No matter which version you choose, from Saint Barbara to the Grimms, the story of Rapunzel is more than just that of another passive princess waiting for her prince to come. Initially the story is about a young woman whose life is completely controlled by the adults around her, but when she disobeys she is able to choose her own fate. Rapunzel tells us we can’t stay in our towers forever. We must either weave ourselves a ladder or leap into the thorns. Childhood must be left behind; the adult world is just beyond that forest.

Jun 21, 2010

Malefic Monday – Take 2

Malefic ~ doing mischief; producing evil

Let’s try this again. I’m not going to bore you with the reasons for my absence last week, except to say that trouble comes in threes and I’m well overdue for some good luck.

Today is the Summer Solstice, at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s the longest day of the year, and also the mid-point of the year. Though my optimistic attitude faltered badly during the last month, I’m ready to start over.

This Week’s Goals:

Tuesday: Part VI of my fairy tale series takes a look at one of my all time favourites, Rapunzel.

Wednesday: Will feature a new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure. If you have any preferences, let me know. I’m always willing to do a little research. ;-)

Thursday: This week’s poetry form is the Latin American form of the Décima.

Friday: Chapter 43 of the Space Opera. As Chaney asked at the end of the last chapter, now what?

Elsewhere in my week:

I think there’s a Scribe’s meeting tonight, and I’ve missed the last three so I really can’t miss this one. And I’m pretty sure I have a poetry group meeting tomorrow night. I unintentionally missed the poetry reading last week – it just totally slipped my mind. I did, however, get my poems and biography for the anthology submitted on time.

Expect to see some changes to the background of this blog – I like the shade of pink but the plainness of it has been driving me crazy so I’m going to be playing around with it again.

I’m also trying to come up with a workable schedule of posts for my sadly neglected Random Writings blog, which actually has more followers than this one. I’m thinking of one day for writing prompts/flash fiction and then one day for a nuts and bolts post of the writing craft. I just have to decide what days.

I’ll probably need to devote a couple of hours each evening to catch up on my blog reading and Facebooking – apologies to all my e-friends for my lack of presence last week!

That’s pretty much what’s on my plate for the week, how about yours?

Jun 14, 2010

Malefic Monday

Malefic ~ doing mischief; producing evil

There's a old saying: If it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all. I'm thinking of adopting it as my family motto.

Lady Luck has certainly been fickle lately. And I can't say it's been all bad, just another one of those weeks when the good luck far outweighs the bad. The big one for me this time is a toothache that started Wednesday night . . . and I still have it. Hopefully I'll be able to get in to see a dentist today. Orajel and painkillers work wonders, but there's only so much of them a body can take.

I managed to get my posts up, and on time, I might add, although I didn't write an original poem to go with the poetry form. Just as I was about to leave for my Scribes meeting, a friend whom I haven't taled with for awhile called, so I missed my meeting again.

I'd like to thank Dolly again for guesting me on her blog last week. This week she has L.Jagi Lamplighter Wright discussing why she writes fantasy. Take a moment and check it out.

This Week’s Goals:

Tuesday: Part VI of my fairy tale series takes a look at one of my all time favourites, Rapunzel.

Wednesday: Will feature a new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure. If you have any preferences, let me know. I’m always willing to do a little research.

Thursday: This week’s poetry form is the Italian form of the Canzone, a from that's related to the Sestina.

Friday: Chapter 43 of the Space Opera. As Chaney asked at the end of last week's chapter, now what?

Elsewhere in my week:

No meetings this week, although there is a poetry reading I should attened on Thursday night. I still haven't picked my poems for the anthology nor have I finished my biography. And the deadline is tonday. *sigh*

Starting Thursday, I get to work from home. At first glance this might seem like a good thing (if not a great thing) but what it'll all boil down to is self-discipline. As in, only time will tell if I have any.

That’s pretty much what’s on my plate for the week, how about yours?

Jun 10, 2010

Minute Poem

Minute Poetry

The Minute Poem was created by Verna Lee Hinegardner, poet laureate of Arkansas, in the 1960s. It is a rhyming verse form consisting of 12 lines of 60 syllables written in strict iambic meter. The poem is formatted into 3 stanzas of 8,4,4,4; 8,4,4,4; 8,4,4,4 syllables. The rhyme scheme is as follows: aabb, ccdd, eeff. The minute is capitalized and punctuated like prose and captures a slice of life.





where "x" is the syllable count, "a" through "f" rhyme

Example :

I Need Someone
By Linda Newman

I need someone to hold me tight
Through dark of night,
Who won’t go ’way
At break of day.

Someone whose love will mend the seams
Of broken dreams,
And give me back
The trust I lack.

For love, it holds the magic key
To set me free,
To heal my soul
And make me whole.

You'll have to forgive me for not doing my own example, but as per the way my luck has been going lately, I got a tooth ache which made it really hard to concentrate on anything but the pain. :-0

Jun 8, 2010

Fairy Tale Origins - Part V
Snow White, Part II

There are an astounding number of versions of Snow White, last week we explored just a few. What’s interesting is how the story changes with the region it’s told in, as well as the country. Italy has several versions, including one where Snow White grows while in her crystal coffin; ones with neither dwarfs nor prince; and ones with necrophiliac princes (the ones who fall in love with what appears to be a corpse). A Scottish version has her ending up in a three-some when her husband’s second wife is able to defeat the evil mother.

The Italian versions can’t seen to decide whether it’s the mother or the step-mother who’s the villain, but the Grimm’s settle that question in 1819 when they kill off the “good” queen in their version and add the “evil” step-mother. Without a doubt, their murderous queen remains one of the most vivid villains in folkloric history. She orders the death of an innocent girl and demands her heart. In many versions she cooks and eats it.

The queen is a woman whose power comes from her beauty; the implication being that it’s this beauty that gives her an important place in the world. If she loses that beauty, what power is left to this aging woman? The answer would seem to be witchcraft – potions and poisons, deadly combs and strangling stay-laces.

The magic mirror serves not only as a source of information for the queen, but a symbol of her insecurity and growing madness. Snow White is a kind of reverse mirror for the queen, reflecting all the good that the queen has lost.

Blood and consumption seem to be a large part of the story. The three drops of red blood spark the queen’s wish for a child. You can be sure there was blood in the death of the mother in childbirth. Blood is also a symbol of sexual maturity, the point at which the “bad” queen decides to dispose of Snow White. As proof, the queen demands to see the blood on the hunter’s knife, then makes a meal of the heart, echoing the ancient pagan belief that ingesting an enemy's flesh would enable one to claim their strength and magic.

The number of dwarfs in Snow White is significant. The number seven is regarded as a magical number. It took seven days to create the world, and ancient astronomers believed that there were seven planets. All the great Jewish feasts lasted for seven days, and there are legends of seven hills, seven cities and seven sacred trees.

What is important to remember about these versions of the Snow White tale is that they provide an interesting glimpse into the late Middle Ages. Women, it seemed, could either have the innocence and purity of Snow-white, or the conspiring, vindictive nature of the evil stepmother. In this era women were seen as unpredictable, in need of the control and stability that only a male partner (such as the prince or the dwarfs) could provide.

It’s hard to believe that this dark tale was the basis for Disney’s feature film. Walt Disney was fond of fairy tales and not shy about reshaping them to suit his needs, turning them into the simple tales he believed that his audience, a generation marked by economic depression and two world wars, wanted.

At the time, no one knew whether audiences would actually sit through an eighty–four minute cartoon, and the film was called "Disney's folly" as he poured more and more time and money into it.

He emphasized the dwarfs (who were not dwarfs but robbers in some versions), giving them names, distinct personalities, and a cozy cottage. The prince’s role was expanded, and he became pivotal to the story. His love for Snow White, demonstrated at the very beginning of the film, becomes the spark that sets off the powder keg of the stepmother's rage.

Only the queen retains some of the real power of the traditional tale. She's a genuinely frightening figure, and far more compelling than Snow White (who was drawn as a blonde at one point), a wide–eyed, childish figure wearing rags.

Although the film was a commercial triumph, and has been beloved by generations of children, critics through the years have protested the sweeping changes Disney Studios made, and continues to make, when retelling such tales. Walt himself responded, "It's just that people now don't want fairy stories the way they were written. They were too rough. In the end they'll probably remember the story the way we film it anyway."

Sad, but true.

Jun 7, 2010

Metagnostic Monday

metagnostic ~ incomprehensible; beyond understanding

Last week really kicked my butt, on so many different levels. If you took all the bad luck I had in May (which, let me tell you, was considerable) and put it into one week, it still wouldn’t even come close to how bad last week was. I’m just grateful that the old week is gone and the new one is here. Let’s hope it will be kinder.

Two things of note:

First, I’d like to apologize to all my blogging friends out there whose blogs I normally comment on faithfully. I read your posts, but wasn’t able to do much (if any) commenting. The way my week was going I almost didn’t get my posts up.

Second, the fabulous Dolly, from Writer Revealed, had me do a guest post on her blog! She’s been running a weekly series called “Why I Write?” and I was honoured when she asked me to take part. If you don’t have her site bookmarked already, you can find it HERE. This is a great series and I advise everyone to have a look. I love seeing what makes other people tick.

Anyone play Mouse Hunt on Facebook? I learned a neat trick. If you leave the site, or even shut down your computer, without exiting out of Facebook, the game will keep running. This is how I’ve managed to make Apprentice level so fast. Even when I’m not using my computer I’m still catching mice. Of course the down side to that is people think I’m logged into Facebook when I’m not. :-)

This Week’s Goals:

Tuesday: Part V of my fairy tale series takes a more in depth look into Snow White and what Disney did to her. ;-)

Wednesday: Will feature a new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure. If you have any preferences, let me know. I’m always willing to do a little research.

Thursday: This week’s Passion for Poetry form is Minute Poetry, and trust me when I say it takes more than a minute to write it!

Friday: Chapter 42 of the Space Opera. What’s this test Nakeisha’s undertaking? And has anyone noticed the wind’s picking up?

Elsewhere in my week:

Tonight there’s a Scribe’s meeting, and since I missed the last two I’m really going to have to make the effort to go tonight. The prompt, if anyone else would like to give it a try, is to write 150 words in an anthropomorphic genre.

Quite frankly, that’s the only thing I’ve got “planned” for this week. As far as I’m concerned, if I get anything else done it’s gravy. I have two short bios to write, one for the anthology my poetry group is putting out and the other for the Scribe’s website. Why is it so hard to write about myself??

I also need to go through my poetry (dare I suggest organizing it again?) to choose poems for the anthology. This time I have three pages to fill. And maybe it’s time I started thinking about what poems I’m going to read for the poetry reading I’m doing in August.

Reading-wise . . . after a fast start I’ve slowed down considerably, but I’m still about half-way there. I’m thinking 52 books for the year was probably right for me after all. Can you believe it’s June already? It seems like just yesterday we were all complaining about the cold.

That’s what’s on my plate for the week, how about yours?

Jun 4, 2010

Cro Cumaisc Etir Casbairnde Ocus Lethrannaigecht

Yes, that's right. I never got this post up yesterday so it's poetry today, serial tomorrow. Sorry!

I like Bob Newman’s definition of this form the best: This is an Irish verse form. The name means "Sorry, the translator can't take your call at the moment".

Irish poetry began with an oral tradition which depended upon rhyme to assist the memory. The ancient Irish poets, filidh (from the verb, to see) were highly respected and thought to have magical powers similar to the Welsh poets.

The Irish patterns depend heavily on alliteration, consonance and assonance, sharing the word cywdydd (harmony of sound) with the Welsh. A defining feature of ancient Irish poetry is, dunadh, beginning and ending the poem with the same syllable, word or line. This brings the poem full circle.

Around the 5th century, Christianity came to Ireland. With its introduction the filidh gave up their "magical" role and became "scholars". The poetry that emerged from the 6th to 12th century is intricately formal, dán díreach ("straight or strict verse"). During this time Ireland became known as an "island of saints and scholars".

The early Church in Ireland was unusually well organized. The Latin influenced system enabled the monks to record and preserve much of the ancient poetry. The Cro Cumaisc Etir Casbairnde Ocus Lethrannaigecht developed from this history and carrying the tradition of the ancient bards into the present.

The form calls for any number of 4-line stanzas rhyming abab. There’s also a strict syllable count, and here’s where my sources disagree. While some claim the syllable count is 7-5-7-5, others claim the count is 5-7-5-7. Being Irish, the lengths of the rhyming words are also specified, in this case as 3, 1, 3, 1. The 3 does not indicate triple rhymes; the requirement is simply that the rhyming words are three syllables long.

The verse form looks like this:

x x x x(x x a)
x x x x b
x x x x (x x a)
x x x x b


x x (x x a)
x x x x x x b
x x (x x a)
x x x x x x b

Cast Out

At the dawn of creation
when the world was new,
grew the tree of temptation –
fruit enough for two.

The serpent, so seductive
with his apple sweet –
this one act so destructive
such a deadly treat.

Should they have asked permission
Before they had a taste?
Theirs, a sin of omission
And a fall from grace.

Tears of grief and frustration,
yet they left the glade.
Faint the hope of salvation
in a promise made.

Life can be so oppressive
in this world of sins,
making man so agressive -
a game no one wins.

Jun 3, 2010

Passion For Poetry

Sorry folks, the week got away from me so the poetry post is going to be delayed until this evening. In the meantime, here's a quiz for your entertainment. Let me know in the comments what kind of poetry form you are. :-)

Short, terse, unfriendly,
Yet sometimes quite emotive;
I am the Haiku.
What Poetry Form Are You?

Jun 2, 2010

Hump Day Hunk

If you want to see the image in a larger size, just click on it. ;-)

Jun 1, 2010

Fairytale Origins - Part IV
Snow-white (Part I)

When someone mentions the name, Snow White, it probably calls to mind a vision of seven dwarfs whistling while they work, and a cartoon princess singing, “Some day my prince will come.” Would it surprise you to know that the original Snow White was considered one of the darkest fairy tales of all?

The earliest known written version was called The Young Slave, published in Italy in 1634 by Giambattista Basile. In this version, a baron's unmarried sister swallows a rose leaf and becomes pregnant. She gives birth in secret and names the baby Lisa. Fairies are summoned to bless the child. The last one stumbles in her haste and utters a curse instead. As a result, Lisa dies at the age of seven while her mother is combing her hair. The grieving mother has the body encased in seven caskets made of crystal, and hides it under lock and key.

On her deathbed, she gives the key to her brother, but makes him promise that he will never open the locked door. More years pass, and the baron marries. One day he is away, so he gives the key to his wife with strict instructions not to use it. Suspicious, she immediately goes to the locked room where she discovers a beautiful young girl who seems to be fast asleep. (Basile explains that Lisa has grown and matured in her enchanted state.) The baroness seizes Lisa by the hair — dislodging the comb and waking her. Thinking she's found her husband's secret mistress, the jealous baroness cuts off Lisa's hair, dresses her in rags, and beats her black and blue.

The baron returns and notices the young woman cowering in the shadows. His wife tells him the girl is a kitchen slave, sent by her aunt. Soon after the baron sets off for a fair, and promises everyone a gift, including the slave. Lisa requests that he bring back a doll, a knife, and a pumice stone.

He returns and gives the slave the items she asked for. Alone by the hearth, Lisa talks to the doll as she sharpens the knife to kill herself. The baron overhears her sad tale, and learns she's his own sister's child. The girl is then restored to beauty, health, wealth, and heritage — while the cruel baroness is cast away, sent back to her parents.
The Young Slave, complete text


In another Italian tale called The Crystal Casket, Snow White is persuaded to introduce her teacher to her widowed father. After the marriage, the teacher treats her stepdaughter cruelly. An eagle helps the girl to escape and hides her in a palace of fairies. The stepmother hires a witch, who takes a basket of poisoned sweetmeats to the girl. She eats one and dies. The fairies revive her. The witch strikes again, disguised as a seamstress with a beautiful dress to sell. When the dress is laced up, the girl falls down dead, and this time the fairies will not revive her. Instead, they place her body in a gem–encrusted casket, rope the casket to the back of a horse, and send it off to the city.

Horse and casket are found by a prince, who falls in love with the beautiful "doll" and takes her home. His mother is appalled but the prince will not be parted from his treasure and locks himself away in a tower with the girl. He’s called away to battle and leaves the “doll” in the care of his mother. His mother ignores the macabre creature — until a letter arrives warning her of the prince's impending return. Quickly she calls for the maids to clean the neglected corpse. They do so, spilling water in their haste, badly staining the maiden's dress. The queen has them remove the dress, thinking to have a replacement made. As soon as they loosen the laces, the maiden returns to life, confused and alarmed.

The queen hears her story with sympathy, dresses the girl in her own royal clothes, and then, oddly, hides the girl behind lock and key when the prince comes home. He immediately asks to see his "wife." The Queen tells him that she had her buried because of the smell. He’s so upset the queen finally relents. The girl is summoned, her story is told, and the two are properly wed.
The Crystal Casket complete text


In a third Italian version of the tale, it's the girl's own mother who wishes her ill — an innkeeper named Bella Venezia who cannot stand a rival in beauty. First she imprisons her child in a lonely hut by the sea; then she seduces a kitchen boy and demands that he murder the girl. The servant abandons the girl in the woods, returning with the eyes and blood of a lamb.

The girl wanders through the forest and soon finds a cave where twelve robbers live. She keeps house for them, who love her and deck her in jewels every night. Her mother eventually gets wind of this, and is more jealous than ever. Disguised as an old peddler woman, she sells her daughter a poisoned hair broach. When the robbers return, they find the girl dead, so they bury her in a hollow tree.

At length, the fair corpse is discovered by a prince, who takes it home and fawns over it. The queen is appalled, but the prince insists upon marrying the beautiful maiden. Her body is bathed and dressed for a wedding. The royal hairdresser is summoned. As the girl's hair is combed, the broach is discovered, removed, and she comes back to life.


In a Scottish version of the story, a trout in a well takes the role of the magical mirror. Each day a queen asks, "Am I not the loveliest woman in the world?" The trout assures the queen that she is. . .until her daughter comes of age, surpassing the mother in beauty. The queen is filled with envy, summons the king, and demands the death of their daughter. He pretends to comply, but sends the girl off to marry a foreign king.

When the queen finds out the princess is still alive she crosses the sea to her daughter's kingdom, and kills her with a poisoned needle. The young king, grieving, locks his beloved's corpse away in a high tower. Eventually he takes another wife, who notes that he always seems sad. She asks him what gift she could give him that would make him happy and he tells her that nothing can bring him joy but his first wife restored to life.

She sends him up to the tower, where he finds his first wife alive and well. The second wife had found her and removed the poisoned needle from her finger. With the couple reunited, the second wife offers s to go away. The king won’t hear of it and the three of them live happily until the queen hears that her daughter has come back to life. She crosses the ocean again to kill her, this time with a poisoned drink. The second wife tricks her into drinking the poison herself, and the young king and his two wives live happily ever after.
Gold-tree and Silver-tree, complete text


The Grimms' version starts with a barren queen who longs for a child. The queen stands sewing by an open window. She pricks her finger. Blood falls on the snow. She makes her wish for a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood of the window-frame. Her wish is granted, but the queen dies as soon as her baby is born.

The king takes for another wife, a woman who could not bear anyone more beautiful than she. She had a looking glass that could tell her if there was anyone who surpassed her in beauty. All was well until Snow-white turned seven, at which point the looking-glass told the queen that her step-daughter was more beautiful.

In a rage, the queen summoned a huntsman to take the child away and kill her. He was to bring back her heart as proof of the deed. The huntsman couldn’t bring himself to kill a child, so he set her loose in the forest and brought the heart of a young boar back, which the queen cooked and ate.

Snow-white wandered in the forest until she found a cottage and the seven dwarfs who lived there. They agreed to let her stay provided she clean, sew, wash, and cook for them. Of course the queen soon realized she’d been tricked, and tried three times to kill Snow-white. Once by lacing her up too tightly in some stay-laces, once with a poisoned comb for her hair, and finally, with a poisoned apple. The dwarfs made a coffin of glass for her and placed it on the mountain.

Eventually a king’s son found the coffin, with Snow-white in it, and persuaded the dwarfs to part with it. As the coffin was being carried to his palace, it was jostled and the piece of poisoned apple fell out of Snow-white’s mouth. The prince was over-joyed to see she was alive, and immediately asked for her hand in marriage.

The queen was beside herself with rage over the fact Snow-white was still alive. However, she was forced to wear red-hot, iron slippers and was made to dance until she dropped down dead.

Snow-white, full text of the Grimm’s version

Next week we’ll explore how Disney changed the story, and some of the recurring themes.