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Annotated Fairy Tales: Two Cinderellas

Hey, gang!

Time for yet another installment of Ursula Comments On Peculiar Fairy Tales. This time, since they’re both short, we’re doing two versions of Cinderella. One is Greek and one is from Georgia (Not the one with Atlanta.) They both have some very odd moments, but since neither is very long, it’d be a short commentary of either one on their own.

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“Oh god, make me an ostrich”?

I'm impressed (not necessarily in a good way, mind you) by the prince who decided he would marry only the person who fitted the shoe found in the river - a person he knew nothing about except that they took a size six-and-a-half Shoe Of Awesomeness. She coulda been anybody.

...I'm thinking shoe fetishist who couldn't think of any better way to make sure he got to keep the Awesome Shiny Shoe (and its pair) around. XD

I think the earliest Cinderella type story was from China, and he does decide to marry her immediately on seeing the shoe without ever having seen her. But it kind of makes sense for a culture that considered small feet really, really important to female beauty (even if it still makes the prince rather shallow).

Umm I wonder if "dry throat" is a euphemism for hanging or something like that?

Did they have turkeys in Georgia?

The Georgian tale uses some tropes that remind me of classic Arab folktales. For instance, the opening:

There was and there was not, there was a miserable peasant.

is similar to an Arab storyteller's formulaic opening: "There may or may not have been an X who did Y, but only Allah knows for sure..." which was used because it was sinful to tell lies--such as misleading your audience that a fictional tale really happened.

The devi with the worms in her head reminds me of the ghouls with matted hair in several Arab folktales, who rewarded compassionate and pious young heroes who greeted them in the name of Allah and combed their matted hair which they could not reach themselves. (Arab ghouls are more like djinni than zombies, complete with wish-granting and sage advice, but they do like to eat people. Afterthought--actually, with the hairiness, magical powers, long claws, occasional powers of illusion, they read like Indian rakshasha that got around a bit. )

Edited at 2012-07-31 02:22 am (UTC)

Totally OT, but I found this and thought you'd like it: http://youtu.be/hLL4ZrZeN3s (Video of a baby wombat)

Hi, sort of new person here. I've been reading the annotated fairy tales for a while and enjoying them greatly.

The beginning of Saddleslut seems almost like a ritual sacrifice to me. I vaguely remember something about a cult of women in Ancient Greece who would reroof a temple and anyone who dropped part of the roof was killed and eaten (although considering I can't even *remember* my sources I can't vouch for their accuracy). The fact that they all seem to be Christian later suggests that either I'm imagining the similarities to a sacrifice or the origins of the story were rather thoroughly forgotten though.

Oh, boy, that Greek tale was simply all over the place. I suspect that this particular story involved the storyteller pulling stuff out of his rear end constantly. At least it had a good opener!

The Georgian variation was a lot more interesting. You have a girl with a stomach of iron removing parasites from an old woman's head, clever neighbors who help out for no reason other than to be neighborly, Baba Yaga, and needle-turkeys! Certainly one of the better Cinderella stories I've read.

Enchanted were-peahens are still better than needle-turkeys though, in my opinion.

Edited at 2012-08-01 01:36 am (UTC)

You'd think everyone would recognise Little Rag Girl on account of how her head and hands have got the shiniest spray-tan in the universe. But no, it just doesn't come up again as an identifying feature!

(Just popping back to grumble at Livejournal for marking my previous comment as spam. I swear it's not! It's just got links.)

Actually, the first thing that came to mind was that the phrase "left with a dry throat" was an euphemism for the stepmother being killed.

So many of these stories feel like they've been poorly translated... or rather, that someone Babelfish-ed by using a [Language]-to-English Dictionary.

I tried looking up more about the term "devi," and now I'm hopelessly nerd-sniped. The etymological dictionary I found for the Kartvelian language family, of which Georgian is a member, doesn't turn up any matches for terms like "ogre" and "giant." So it might be a borrowing into Georgian from a nearby Indo-European language, like Farsi, which took the Proto-Indo-European "deva," god, and made it into "daeva," demon. In which case the Georgian devis might also have a demonic aspect to them? But I can't actually find anything definitive on the origin of the term. :(

Although I did discover, in the course of my search, that the Georgian name for Baba Yaga is Ru-kap. So that's a thing.