Friday, April 21, 2017

Sleep in Fairy Tales


With my son Pearson almost 2 months old now, I have never been more sleep deprived in my life. Sleeping during the day when the baby sleeps, the advice you're usually given, is not as easy as it sounds-especially when you've always had a mild case of insomnia. I always used to think the main character in "Princess and the Pea" was too unrelatable-who wants to be a Princess who's too pampered and sensitive? But when I started to think of the pea as being the thoughts that keep me up at night, or a brain that takes a long time to relax, I now think of it in a whole new light.

Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov

I also find it very ironic that "Sleeping Beauty" begins with the desire for a child and then involves a supernaturally long sleep. By now, the mere thought of getting a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is a longed-for fantasy, so rather than seeming like a curse, the idea of a 100 year's nap sounds wonderful.  Maybe the sleeping princess isn't a way to condition little girls to be passive, but sometimes simply the parents telling a story expressing their own desire for sleep after that beloved baby finally arrives.

Yet, sleep functions very differently in other tales. In Animal Bridegroom stories, such as "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," the heroine disobeys the warning not to look at husband while asleep, and must go on a journey to find him. In many versions, she often then finds him engaged to another woman, where she finds a way to come to him at night but he is in a drugged sleep. Sleep is a source of temptation and an obstacle to be overcome in these instances.

Sleep can also be a dangerous, unguarded time, for heroes and villains. In "Hop o' My Thumb," the titular main character tricks the ogre into killing his sleeping daughters instead of himself and his brothers, and they use the rest of the night to escape. Many protagonists must escape a villain's house during the night, under the cover of darkness-so what is risky for one character is protection for another.

In the "Twelve Dancing Princesses," their lack of sleep part of an ambiguous curse; it's the Prince's avoiding sleep that allows him to find the truth. Same with Hansel and Gretel-they overhear what their parents intend to do to them overnight, and Hansel gathers the pebbles while their parents are sleeping. Later, it's while they sleep in the forest that their parents abandon them, sleep once again functioning as danger.

What other fairy tales are there that feature sleep/lack of sleep?

Illustration-William de Leftwich Dodge, 1899

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Basile's The Seven Doves

The "Wild Swans" tale type, mostly known now through the stories of Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimms, has an older literary precedent in Basile's "The Seven Doves" (1634-6).

Adam of Fairy Tale Fandom had done a post not too long ago on Basile's Tale of Tales and how they are much cruder than fairy tale versions we're usually familiar with, which is certainly true (for example, at one point in this tale a cat doesn't just put out a fire, it pisses on the fire to put it out). But I never really realized how Basile is often very funny, in his specific yet delightful imagery. Some of my favorite examples:

   -The tale opens: "Once upon a time...there was a good woman who gave birth to a son every year so that, when the number reached seven, the boys resembled the flute of Pan with seven holes each a little bigger than the next. As soon as the sons had grown and lost their first set of ears..." (Zipes notes that this implies that children lose sets of ears like they do teeth)

   -"Finally, one morning, when the sun was using his penknife to scratch out the mistakes that the night had made on heaven's papers..."

   -[the heroine] "felt like a plucked quail for the mistake she had made"

   -"...the sea was beating the rocks with the stick of the waves because they did not want to do the Latin homework that had been assigned them"

   -"she arrived at the foot of a killjoy mountain that poked its head through the clouds just to annoy them"

Basile seemed to have an imaginative, almost childlike way in which he viewed the world with humor and personification.

The tale itself begins with the seven brothers demanding that their mother, who is again pregnant (Heaven help her), give birth to a girl this time, or else they will leave. This element of the tale always perplexes me-in the Grimms' "Twelve Brothers," they changed their original plot in which the King threatens to kill his wife is she gives birth to a girl, to the King desiring a daughter and threatening to kill his sons if he doesn't get one. And here we see the brothers themselves determined not to have an eighth boy. I'm not sure what the intention of each author was in each of those strange and sad scenarios, but I'm beginning to wonder, given the extremity of each threat and how different each one is, if maybe this scene could represent the foolishness of putting pressure on a woman to give birth to any gender?

Anyway, the mother does give birth to a girl, but it's the midwife who was distracted and gave the boys the wrong signal, so they left. As the girl grew up, she demanded to go find news of her brother, and went on a journey. She finally found her brothers, who had taken up residence with an ogre who was friendly towards them, but hated women, since a woman had blinded him. So they put her in a room and instructed her to never show herself to the ogre.

Yet, one day, her fire was put out by her cat companion since she didn't share half of a nut that she ate with it (she usually gave it exactly half of all of her food), and she went to ask the ogre for fire. When she realized the ogre was going to harm her, she barricaded herself in her room, and when the brothers returned, they shoved the ogre into a pit, where he died. They scolded their sister for neglecting her instructions, and told her never to gather grass near the spot where the ogre was buried, or else they would be turned into doves.

But of course...one day the sister, Cianna, came across an injured man, and used rosemary from that spot to make him a healing salve. The brothers-turned-doves came and berated her, going on and on about how foolish she had been and how there was no hope for them unless she found the Mother of Time.

So Cianna went on another journey, this time to find the Mother of Time. She came across many creatures who all pointed her in the right direction, if in turn she would ask a favor of the Mother of Time for them-a whale, a mouse, an army of ants, and an oak tree. Eventually she came across the same man she had helped with the rosemary from the ogre's resting place, who gave her final instructions and then decayed away as soon as he told her everything she needed to know.

This time Cianna followed the instructions perfectly, although the Mother of Time tried to deceive her. She received an answer for all of the friends who helped her along her journey as well as the solution for her brothers to regain their human form-they must "make their nest on the column of wealth," which they unintentionally did anyway when they landed on the horn of an ox, since the horn, Basile tells us, is a symbol of plenty.

From there they journeyed backwards. The oak told them to take the gold treasure that was buried underneath him in thanks, but theives took their gold and tied them all up. The other animals all helped rescue the siblings and get them their treasure and to safety.

Although on the surface, the tale seems to have a strong message about Cianna learning to follow instructions, the plot seems to contradict this a bit. And frankly, just reading the tale, there are so many sets of specific instructions she gets, it's almost tiring to read them. If she hadn't showed herself to the ogre the brothers wouldn't have become the lords of his castle (and she would never have been free). And the old man she helped heal with the rosemary was instrumental in freeing her brothers later, although that was helping to solve the problem she created by helping him-but clearly compassion was credited to her as a virtue and not a weakness, both in her desire to help him and then all of the other creatures who repaid them with help. In fact, the story ends: "Thanks to Cianna's goodness, they enjoyed a happy life proving the truth of the old proverb: Good things happen to those who forget the good they've done."


The text of this tale can be found in Jack Zipes' The Great Fairy Tale Tradition. There is an online text at Surlalune although some of the translation is different

Illustrations-Giambattista Basile (from wikipedia); "The Seven Doves," Warwick Goble


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Runaway Pancakes

Sarah Allison at Writing in Margins had referenced the Runaway Pancake family of tales a while back and I realized, other than the classic "you can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man" line, I'm not familiar with these stories at all (although my brother and I did used to love saying the line from Shrek, "Not my buttons! Not my gumdrop buttons!"). I wasn't even sure how the classic tale even ended (a fox caught the Gingerbread boy and ate him). So I went over to the list of Runaway Pancake tales at D. L. Ashliman's site and had myself a virtual pancake brunch (no Saturday morning is complete in the Tales of Faerie Kingdom without pancakes and coffee!).

It seems the story tends to go like this: A pancake escapes its original maker, and as it makes its getaway, encounters lots of other animals who express their desire to eat it. Not surprisingly, the pancake doesn't grant their request and keeps on running. It isn't until an animal, usually a fox (but sometimes a pig), claims that he doesn't want to eat it, that he is able to trick the pancake into getting into its mouth. So it's a strange, depressing tale that seems to encourage deception, unless you look at it as cleverness, depending on if you have sympathy for a talking pancake. It's that strange tension again that exists in the fairy tale world, in which characters have to eat, but even food has the potential for being anthropomorphized and given its own desires. Yet especially in a world where food was more scarce, you might feel less sympathy for a pancake whose sole purpose is to be eaten, as opposed to animal tales (in which a character might be rewarded for compassion for an animal, and yet also eat meat, sometimes of the same animal!) And although most of the breakfast pastries that are consumed, at least on Ashliman's page, are pancakes or loaves of bread, it also makes sense that the American Gingerbread Boy would be seen as sentient, since he is at least modeled after a human.

Some notable exceptions: In the Scottish "Wee Bunnock," the bunnock (small loaf of bread) is caught not because it was tricked, but simply because it became dark and it fell in a fox's hole. And the compassionate "Thick Fat Pancake" from Germany allowed itself to be eaten because it came across three hungry children.

And some slightly less related tales: the English "Dathera Dad" is about a fairy child trapped in a pudding. The Russian "Devil in the Dough-Pan" is a warning about the consequences of failing to bless your food while making it, because otherwise a demon can inhabit it-and if you bless it after the demon is there, he'll be trapped! (Although the woman still lost her loaf, it was the demon who regretted entering the bread in the first place).

Illustrations by Robert Lumley
...is anybody else hungry now?

Monday, April 3, 2017

From the Archives: Juniper Tree Variants

Juniper Tree Variants

The Juniper Tree seems to have a deep appeal to many fairy tale lovers, despite its darker elements. The traditional version is found in the brothers Grimm.

Kay Nielsen

The Rose Tree is an English variant, by Joseph Jacobs, in which the children are gender-reversed -which struck me as odd when the bird gives the brother a present of red shoes. Having the mother hate her daughter seems so predictable in fairy tales, but in Rose Tree some of the elements are especially reminiscent of Snow White.

In "Juniper Tree", the mother has no reason to hate her son other than the fact that he came from her husband's first wife. In "Rose Tree", the hatred comes from jealousy. As the wife combs out the hair of the daughter, she "hated her more for the beauty of her hair." She sends the girl to fetch a comb, then a billet of wood, then " 'I cannot part our hair with a comb, fetch me an axe...now, lay your head down on the billet whilst I part your hair.' Well! She laid down her golden head without fear; and whist! Down came the axe, and it was off. So the mother wiped the axe and laughed."

Later, the mother cooks the heart and liver of the girl, which is reminiscent of Snow White's stepmother's attempted cannibalism-only this evil mother is successful.

As monstrous as this mother is, the mother in the Scottish tale "Pippety Pew" has no reason at all to murder her son-who is her full blooded son, not a stepson-other than to hide the fact that she tasted the stew she made for dinner "till she had tasted it all away, and she didn't know what to do for her husband's dinner. So she called Johnnie, her son, to come and have his hair combed. When she was combing his head, she slew him, and put him into the pot."

Warwick Goble

Then as the father unknowingly eats his son, the scene is more disgusting than the other variants. The father comes across the different body parts, saying, "surely that's Johnnie's foot" and "That's surely my Johnnie's hand" and yet still eats, implying this father is either incredibly stupid to confuse a human foot with a hare's, the explanation given by his wife, or knowingly feasts on his son.

In the Grimms' version, the bird is transformed back into a boy at the end. In neither the Scottish nor English counterparts does the bird ever regain human form. But I personally like the idea that there can still be redemption and hope in ugly situations, despite the fact that things won't magically be the same again-it's almost more comforting in its realism. Which ending do you prefer?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Teas

I'm sure that special Beauty and the Beast themed products are nothing new these days, but knowing I'm really into tea (as well as the fairy tale) my friend sent me this link to the limited edition Twinings tea in honor of the Disney movie:
"English tea company Twinings has debuted special-edition Beauty and the Beast packaging($15 for 4) on some of its herbal tea blends, and it's sure to bring a smile to any Disney-lover's face.
The Lemon and Ginger tea features Emma Watson as Belle in her blue dress, while Belle in her iconic yellow dress adorns the packaging of the Camomile, Honey, and Vanilla flavor. The Pure Peppermint tea features the famous scene of Belle and the Beast dancing. Lastly, the Orange and Cinnamon Spice Tea features our favorite teapot, Mrs. Potts. Luckily for us, the teas will be available in the US in leading grocery stores and specialty stores until December of this year."
The boxes would be fun to collect, but they just put a new graphic on basic teas that already existed. I would have loved to see special blends created in honor of the fairy tale. A rose tea would be an obvious choice; I can imagine a flavored black tea called "Enchanted Castle" and a calming chamomile blend in honor of Mrs. Potts. If you could create a BATB themed tea, what would it be?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fairy Tale Forum and Giveaway!

There's a wonderful new fairy tale community being started over on Facebook by authors Shonna Slayton and Ashlee Willis! It's meant for authors, bloggers, Etsy sellers, or any fairy tale fans in general to discuss and geek out over fairy tales. Be sure to stop by to check out the posts there already, and to enter the giveaway!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Our Little Prince

Announcing our new arrival here in the Tales of Faerie Kingdom!  Our son Pearson entered the world February 23. (Pearson is my mom's maiden name, so he is honoring some of the kings and queens who ruled before him). Everyone is healthy but we're still in recovery mode/figuring out our new responsibilities as parents. I'll return to posting...at some point...but for now trying to rest when I can and savor every moment of him being so small!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Alison Larkin's Fairy Tales of the Fiercer Sex

Fairy tale collections featuring female protagonists have gotten more popular recently in our little world of fairy tale lovers, but those stories sadly still remain elusive among the more general public who still tend to think that fairy tales promote the stereotype of the helpless female waiting around to be rescued by a man.

I was recently notified of a new audiobook release that features 20 tales, narrated by Alison Larkin, all of which feature strong female protagonists! Description for Fairy Tales of the Fiercer Sex:

 These are not stories of helpless females shut up in high towers waiting around for a handsome Prince to rescue them. These are tales of strong, independent, brave, at times irreverent girls and women who take charge of their own lives, go on their own adventures and rescue themselves and the ones they love. 

 The clever serving maids, brilliant princesses and other females in this collection have far more to distinguish them than the fact that they end up happily married to a prince! 

 Title and End music by Emmy award-winning composers Gary Schriener and Curt Sobel. Introduction by Alison Larkin 

1. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen 
2. Molly Whuppie and the Double-faced Giant by Flora Annie Steel 
3. A Pottle of Brains by Joseph Jacobs 
4. Cap O’ Rushes by Joseph Jacobs 
5. Hansel and Grethel by the Brothers Grimm 
6. Mr. Fox by Joseph Jacobs 
7. Clever Grethel by the Brothers Grimm 
8. Kari Woodengown by P.C. Absjornsen 
9. The Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Brothers Grimm 
10. Felicia and the Pot of Pinks by Madame la Comtesse d’Aulnoy 
11. The Iron Stove by Miss Mulock 
12. The Hedley Kow by Joseph Jacobs 
13. The Six Sillies by Monsieur Lemoine 
14. Baba Yaga a Russian folk tale re-told by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano De Blumenthal 
15. The Old Woman in the Woods by the Brothers Grimm 
16. The Idle Spinner by the Brothers Grimm 
17. The Twelve Brothers by the Brothers Grimm 
18. Frederick and Catherine by the Brothers Grimm 
19. Little Red Cap by the Brothers Grimm 
20. Beauty and The Beast by Marie Le Prince de Beaumont
"Snow Queen" illustrations of Gerda's journey by Amy Chipping

There are a few standard fairy tales on the list, but it's good to be reminded that even the fairy tales culture is familiar with often feature clever women who actually do a lot more than sitting around dreaming helplessly of love (even in the cases of the worst offenders for most helpless princesses, you can usually make a case for them not being quite as passive as some have made them out to be anyway). There are also quite a few tales I'm not familiar with at all, so it seems like it would be a good mix for both the casual fairy tale fan as well as many of the readers here who are already familiar with more tales than the average person!

Another cool thing about this collection: Promoting awareness is also translated into action, because for every downloaded audiobook ($20), $5 goes towards helping girls and women in need around the world. That's a cause I would happily support!

Other similarly themed books:


UPDATE: Adam reviewed the audiobook over at Fairy Tale Fandom, check out his review!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Fairy Tale Nursery Ideas


It's February 19, which means two things: 1. It's been 7 years since Tales of Faerie's first post ever! I always like to take a moment to attempt to express my thanks for all the support from readers over the years. Being part of the fairy tale blogging community is amazing and has helped me learn so much!

And this year, this particular date also means we are now only 6 days away from the due date of our little Prince! In fact I'm scheduling this ahead of time so it's even possible I could be a mother by the time this goes live...(!!!!!). (By the way, congratulations to Megan Kearney who also just gave birth to a baby boy!). So, if it gets really quiet around here for a while you can probably assume I'm on maternity leave but I'll eventually come back with a birth announcement.

Tony and I had considered doing a fairy tale themed nursery, but decided to go with a Disneyland theme instead, which can incorporate fairy tales as well as a lot of already easily accessible products. I'm not especially into decorating and our nursery looks nothing like these, but I had fun browsing! It's actually hard to find fairy tale nursery ideas that aren't super girly (even if we were having a girl I'd want something gender neutral that could be used for potential future kids too), and that are actually inspired by fairy tales themselves rather than the general aesthetics of "ornate/vintage", or "woodland creatures/trees". But here were some of my favorites:


.
SWAN CRIB-Pamela Copeman

Not technically for a baby but-WOW








Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Sleeping Prince

In my post on the different ways of Awakening the Sleeping Beauty, reader Nectar Vam shared this fantastic gender swapped version of the tale, The Sleeping Prince. It combines elements of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and even reminded me a little of Beauty and the Beast with the enchanted castle at the end. A bird tells a Princess of a sleeping Prince, who is white and gold and red, and goes on a dangerous journey even though she knew her parents wouldn't approve. She has to go to the lands of the West Wind, East Wind, and North Wind, where mortals should not go, and follow instructions to get past two lions that guard the gates of the castle, and awaits the time when the Prince's spell will be over.

It very much has the feel of a traditional folk tale to me, and although the sleeping prince trope may be much less common, if you look hard enough you can generally find gender swapped versions of any classic fairy tale-especially since this one bears resemblance to the journey of the heroine in "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." But the only sites I could find the tale at had no source cited-Wikipedia has a tale of the same title but it's clearly different (although also fascinating-in this one the heroine must stay awake watching the sleeping Prince for 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days, 3 hours, and 3 half hours. She is persuaded to sleep towards the end and then follows a Goose Girl-type episode of mistaken identity). This site says it's Spanish (thanks, Amy Elize!) but has no further information on collection, editor, date, etc. So I can't promise it's authentic folklore but an interesting tale worth reading and sharing! Any further information on it would be welcome! UPDATE: Sarah Allison has more information on the source in the comments. Thanks, Sarah!

Also-in the past I've done features on roses in fairy tales on Valentine's Day. Interestingly, the key to getting past the lions in this tale is to pick two white roses from outside the North Wind's door, and throw them down before the lions when she gets close enough-something that would require lots bravery, since the lions act threatening until she gets close enough to throw down the roses! And the episode also reveals the great amount of power sometimes associated with roses in fairy tales.

Image sources-1 and 2

Thursday, February 9, 2017

My Beast, by Lorraine Mariner


"When I was a child I worried
that when I got my chance to love a beast
I would not be up to the task.
As he came in for the kiss I'd turn away
or gag on the mane in my mouth
and the fair-haired prince
and the dress that Beauty wore
on the last page in my Ladybird book
would be lost to me forever."

Here's the beginning of Lorraine Mariner's poem, "My Beast." You can read the whole thing here (and also listen to it being read aloud). I love this first section because I tended to have the same thought when I read fairy tales as a child-that I needed to pay attention because somehow I might be put in the same situation and need to use the fairy tales to figure out what I should do.
I also wasn't familiar with the illustrations from the Ladybird book she mentions, so I googled them and here are some of my favorites! 

Mariner goes on to discuss her disillusionment with her expectations of BATB, but then comes to terms with a balance of hope and realism. Many modern poets seem to have a very bleak view of fairy tales and happy endings so I appreciated the overall message. It's a very quick, easy read

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Awakening the Beauty

Everyone's familiar with the episode where the Prince comes and awakens Sleeping Beauty with a kiss; some people might be aware of older versions of the fairy tale that involve rape and childbirth; sensationalized articles and lists love to use those versions to shock people with the "real" and disturbing versions of classic tales.

While many of the older versions are indeed quite dark and disturbing, they don't all involve rape of an unconscious victim, and True Love's Kiss isn't always the solution in later tales. I used Surlalune's Sleeping Beauties Tales From Around the World book to gain a few different examples of how the Princess is actually awakened.

Going back to Norse mythology, the story of Brunhild (from the late late 13th century) is similar to a Sleeping Beauty tale. In it, the bravery of the hero Siegfried allows him to pass through the dangers and get close to Brunhild (although he doesn't actually do anything, the "vile flames fled in shame and dismay before the pure sunbeam flashes from Greyfell's mane"-so the real secret to heroism is apparently having a magical horse). Once there, he gives Brunhild a gentle kiss on the forehead (not even the lips) and softly calls her name, giving us the picture of an absolute gentleman. I find it ironic that this possibly oldest version of the tale is the closest to the Disney in terms of the stereotypical hero riding in on his horse, braving dangers, and saving the day with a kiss. From there we depart from that ideal-

It's the French story of Troylus and Zelladine from Perceforest, from some time in the 13th or 14th century, that we get to some of the horrific parts of the story. We read a description of how Troylus tries to resist temptation around the beautiful sleeping girl, but just can't help following "the tenets of Venus"-at least this version describes his actions as cowardly, and perhaps tries to justify it a little because Troylus "speaks a long discourse begging forgiveness for his grand liberties." Yet nine months later Zelladine gives birth to a son, who grabs her finger in an attempt to suckle, and suckles so hard that he sucks out the sleep thorn that kept her enchanted.

There are other, less well known Medieval stories which involve a maiden under an enchanted sleep. In almost all of them she is taken advantage of. In Pandragus et Libanor, the maiden is in an unnatural sleep, does not wake up during the night in question, but simply wakes up normally the next day. In Brother of Joy and Sister of Pleasure, the "hero" manages to wake the woman he impregnated with the help of a bird who gives a magic herb to the maiden. This is one of the rare stories in which the woman actually gets upset to find she has been taken advantage of (Zelladine also felt devastated upon waking)-most sleeping beauties seem strangely silent, even happy, to find themselves awakened with a strange lover and/or child-although in this story she does eventually grow to love her rapist (There are good reasons these stories aren't so well known today). Lastly, in the adventures of Blandin de Cornoalha the Knight, we find a chivalrous hero who is more like Siegfried-he falls in love but does not appear to succumb to temptation; rather breaks the enchantment through bravery; he learns he must defeat a serpent, obtain a white hawk, and bring the hawk to the side of the maiden.

Basile's Sun, Moon, and Talia (early 1600s) is very similar to "Troylus and Zelladine"-the only difference being that it is twins who suck the flax from her fingernail and not a single baby. It is this version which also introduces the next violent episode, with the attempted cannibalism of the children. In this version it's a little more understandable, though, because it's the Prince's wife that grows furious when she discovers the truth.

From there we move away from raping/nursing babies as the primary cause of awakening. In Perrault's 1697 classic version, the prince finds the princess and kneels at her side (no kiss) just as the 100 years of her curse happen to be ending, so his part in everything is pretty simple. Once the Princess awakes, they simply talk together for four hours, so it's perhaps the best example of love in a Sleeping Beauty tale. The brambles parted to let him through, so while he wasn't quite the brave knight in shining armor, it would have been pretty creepy to continue as the thorns closed again behind him and then again as he walked through the castle where everyone was eerily unconscious, so we'll give him credit for that. The cannibalism episode follows, only now it's the Prince's mother that is an ogress and wants to eat her grandchildren

In the Italian Sun, Pearl, and Anna, the hero simply removes a spindle from the grasp of the sleeping Anna. They have children together (followed by the cannibalistic mother in law again) but at least it's consensual; I find this transition (or lack thereof) to be downright humorous: "'How are you today, Anna?' 'Very well, thank you. And how are you, your majesty?' 'I'm well.' By the end of nine months, the girl was great with child."

There's another very brief, tragic Italian tale called The Son of a King in which the queen mother actually succeeds in cooking and eating her grandchildren and daughter in law (there is no mention of awakening or the princess actually being found asleep in this one, just that she was found in a deserted castle).

In the Grimm's Briar Rose, once again the hedge parts  for our hero (but this time the hedge is filled with corpses from others who attempted to pass before the time was up), and we have a Princess awakened with a kiss for the first time since Siegfried and Brunhild.

The Grimms also have another Sleeping Beauty tale, The Glass Coffin. I thought I had never read it before but it turns out not only had I read it, I wrote a whole post on it 5 years ago. This is why I have a blog...my memory is terrible! Anyway, it's a fascinating tale in which a Princess was cursed to sleep in a glass coffin because she spurned the advances of an evil magician-she had even attempted to shoot him but the bullet bounced off of him! A traveling tailor discovers her, and all he had to do was look at her, and she woke up and instructed him on how to open the coffin and free her. Afterwards, she gave him a "friendly kiss on his lips." This one wins the award for the most active female heroine!

In the Austrian The Enchanted Sleep, although the count's son does kiss the sleeping maiden, it doesn't appear to awaken her right away. He had also the foresight to write her a letter, which she later used to summon him to her, and also prove his innocence and his brothers' treachery (they had actually killed him, but animals he had helped along his journey came and healed him).

The Story of The Prince in Love is from Egypt, but bears similarities to older tales, particularly the cursed flax under the fingernail being what causes the sleep. Here, fortunately, the prince simply finds and removes the flax, and it's only after she wakes up that he spends forty days and nights with her in bed-although no children result from it. The prince is eventually a jerk to her though, so she decides to teach him a lesson-disguises herself with more beauty and causes him to fall in love with her again, but spurns his gifts, and will only marry him if he pretends to be dead and is himself carried around in a coffin. I'm not sure shy she wants to marry a man who thinks he's cheating on her, but it is interesting that he must have his own sort of "enchanted sleep" before they unite.

There's also The Petrified Mansion from India, in which the prince finds a stick of gold and just happens to touch the Princess' head with it, which revives her and the rest of the mansion's inhabitants. The curse was brought on by a stick of silver, so gold was the antidote-and the same gold stick later healed the Prince's parents, who were mourning their missing son.

So rather than bravery, many medieval Princes took advantage of sleeping princesses. Later, most Princes became more respectful of the enchanted women, who seemed more likely to be revived by chance than from getting a magical kiss. Some of the tales make us feel uncomfortable to read today, yet some were pretty feminist, featuring strong and brave women, and men who had self control. What other versions of Sleeping Beauty and methods of awakening are there? (I didn't even touch on Snow White tales here...)

Illustrations-A. H. Watson (first two), Millicent Sowerby (last two)