Monday, November 19, 2007

Variation on folktales - a kiss or body slam?

We just purchased a copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales and I started reading the first one, The Frog King. I expected to read about the story of the princess kissing the frog and him becoming a prince and the two living happily ever after. At least that's how it has been passed on to me through various media. Much to my surprise, assuming that written stories don't change, I read that only after the princess threw the frog against the wall in disgust did he change into a prince. The body slam hardly seems like a gesture of endearment. But, low and behold he changed and they did marry. I thought this would be the end of the story, but instead a new character is introduced after the main event. He is Henry, the prince's longtime aide, who's heart had to be banned three times so it would not break out of sadness (when the prince became a frog). Instead, Henry is so glad, his heart bursts out of joy for his master. The bands break and all three ride off.

The website SurLaLune Fairy Tales has some good annotations describing the reasons behind the variation and significant parts and characters of the story. So, the translator, Edgar Taylor (1823) changes a significant event in the story to suit his taste or perhaps what he thought his audience would enjoy.

In the Wikipedia write-up, the contributor calls the violent act of throwing the frog against the wall, a means to undo shapeshifting.

No comments: