Saturday, November 24, 2018

Week 13 Reading (EC): Italian Fairy Tales

I was so busy during Week 13 and then I was in Austin for the holiday week, so this is my first chance to get any class work done for a while! But I really enjoyed reading the stories in the first part of the Italian fairy tales unit; I think I could happily spend a whole semester just reading Italian fairy tales! Here are the notes I added to the story pages, and later this weekend I should write up a Fata Morgana Wikipedia Trail; making that connection was my favorite part of writing up these notes (especially because that story of "Catherine and Her Fate" is one of my favorite fairy tales).

Zelinda and the MonsterThomas Crane selected stories from the different regions of Italy, and this story comes from Tuscany (the region of Italy which includes Florence); specifically, the story come from the town of Montale near Pistoia. The Italian title of the story is Zelinda e il Mostro. As you will see, this is a Beauty-and-the-Beast type of story, and you can see it included in Dan Ashliman's collection of stories of this type: Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 425C.

The Fair Angiola
This story comes from the island of Sicily, and it was collected by one of the pioneer folklorists who studied traditional Sicilian stories, Laura Gonzenbach. You can read more about her life and work at Wikipedia.
This is a Rapunzel type of story, which Dan Ashliman has collected here: Rapunzel and Other Folktales of Type 310.
As you will see in the conclusion of the story, that little dog who loved Angiola turns out to be the real hero of the story, even more than the prince! You will see lots of fairy-tale elements in this part of the story, with talking objects and lots of magic, including magical balls of yarn.

How the Devil Married Three Sisters
This story comes from Venice. It is a variation on the "murdering bridegroom" type of story (like Mister Fox or the Robber Bridegroom or Bluebeard), but in this case the bridegroom is the devil himself.

Sir Fiorante, Magician
This is another story from Tuscany; the Italian title is Sor Fiorante mago. You will see that the opening of the story resembles the Beauty-and-the-Beast type of story, but this time the suitor is a snake. More specifically, this story closely resembles the Greco-Roman fairy tale of Cupid and Psyche in which the heroine must carry out a series of tasks in order to recover her supernatural spouse, who is the Sir Fiorante of the story's title.

Water and Salt
This is another story from Sicily, and its title in the Sicilian language is "L'Acqua e lu Sali." It is a common folktale type, and Dan Ashliman includes this version in his collection: Love Like Salt.
Folktales often have a formulaic ending spoken in the storytelling frame of the story, and you will see an example of that here at the end when the storyteller says: "... and here we are with nothing."

Catherine and Her Fate
This is another one of the Sicilian stories collected by the folklorist Laura Gonzenbach. The word "fate" here is from the Italian word fata which means something like a "fairy" or a "guardian angel." You might know the Italian word fata in the English phrase Fata Morgana.
In this story you will see that it is not only Catherine who must deal with a "Fate" who complicates her life; Catherine's next mistress also has a demanding "Fate" of her own.

The Man, the Serpent, and the Fox
This story comes from the town of Otranto in Apulia, on Italy's eastern coast. You may recognize this as a variation on the famous story that originally comes from India: The Brahmin and the Tiger. You will find a large collection of this type of story here: Ingratitude Is the World's Reward.

The IngratesThis story from Montferrat in northern Italy is a variation on the previous story, but it has a surprising ending. Just like before, the fox is able to trick the snake and thus save the man, but there is a surprise in store for the fox too. The title of the story gives you a clue: The Ingrates, plural.

No comments:

Post a Comment

To minimize spam, comments are restricted to Google accounts only. You can also contact me at or at Twitter: @OnlineCrsLady. Comments on older posts will be moderated.