Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fairy Tales Are Weird - Take This Tale About A Twig

This morning, I was absolutely delighted to read "10 Totally Psychotic Fairy Tales That Hollywood Should Film Next" on io9.

Fairy tales are mad.

Take Basile's "The Myrtle."

A woman desires a child so greatly, she "wouldn't care if it were a branch of myrtle!" She presently gives birth to a twig. She cheerfully plants the twig in a pretty pot and puts it up on the windowsill, watering and pruning it tenderly.

As if that isn't odd enough, a Prince passes by and falls head over heels in love with the twig. He begs and pleads to be given the twig and then scurries away with it to his bedroom where "he hoed and watered it with his own hands." In the middle of the night, he senses something getting into bed with him. It's all soft and lovely. He cosies up to it. However, by morning, his bedmate is gone. This occurs several nights, so, of course, in order to discover who's sharing his bed, he ties the girl's plaits to himself, calls for candles, and discovers that she's both gorgeous and a fairy. They become very happy.

But when the Prince has to go away on a trip, the Prince's spurned "women of vice" come and grab the myrtle, summoning the fairy. Seeing how gorgeous she is, they immediately rip her into little bits and flee. The Prince's servant comes upon the crime scene and hastily tidies up all the blood and flesh and hides it away in the pretty pot, watering it for good measure.

The Prince is devastated to discover he has lost his lover. Fortunately, however, she's regrowing in the pot and seeing him so miserable, she pops right back out and consoles him by telling him she is still alive despite being ripped into little pieces by the women.

The Prince invites the women and the lords of the land to a great feast. He asks them all what punishment would be just for someone who would hurt such an attractive fairy. The women come up with all kinds of colourful responses involving gallows, wheels, pincers and being thrown off cliffs. The Prince puts these punishments into effect and he and the fairy live happily ever after.

(Quotes taken from Nancy Canepa's translation in Giambattista Basile's The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones, 2007: pp 52-60.)

You can't make that stuff up...

Wait.

You can.

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