Entertainment today, I guess – after Milton and Cicero, the hard-working self-improver needs some release. Whoops – no, it’s that “Jacob Grimm, elder of the famous Grimm brothers,” was born on this date in 1785.) So – Grimm’s Fairy Tales! (Vol. 17 pp. 83-90). How tempting it is to see if they have one of the unsantized super-bloody ones…but it’s about a magic fish, or more precisely, “The Fisherman And His Wife."
A fisherman apparently catches a Flounder (I like the capital letter, so reminiscent of the German), which turns out not to be a Flounder, but an enchanted prince. Why he’s not an Enchanted Prince is beyond me, but there you are.
He lets the flounder (sorry, Flounder) go and then this part’s like a Raymond or something:
“Husband,” said the woman, “have you caught nothing to-day?” “No,” said the man, “I did catch a Flounder, who said he was an enchanted prince, so I let him go again.” “Did you not wish for anything first.” said the woman. “No,” said the man; “what should I wish for?” “Ah,” said the woman, “it is surely hard to have to live always in this dirty hovel; you might have wished for a small cottage for us. Go back and call him. Tell him we want to have a small cottage, he will certainly give us that.” “Ah,” said the man, “why should I go there again?” “Why,” said the woman, “you did catch him, and you let him go again; he is sure to do it. Go at once.” The man still did not quite like to go, but did not like to oppose his wife, and went to the sea.So she gets her cottage. Then that isn’t enough (wives, right? C'mon, I'm holding my hand up here for a high-five, don't leave me hanging) so she gets him to get her a castle, then to be King, then Emperor, then Pope. The sea gets rougher and rougher each time so we know there's some bad German juju going on. And the husband is more reluctant each time, but he goes, although there’s no scene where the husband discusses his reluctance with the smartass brother or anything, so in this respect it’s not like a Raymond.
Then, finally, when she is Pope (and I like the old-fashioned idea that the Pope is the last word in earthly glory) she decides that she also wants to be as God is, and the husband says,
“Alas, wife,” said the man, falling on his knees before her, “the Flounder cannot do that; he can make an emperor and a pope; I beseech you, go on as you are, and be Pope.” Then she fell into a rage, and her hair flew wildly about her head, and she cried, “I will not endure this, I’ll not bear it any longer; wilt thou go?” Then he put on his trousers and ran away like a madman. But outside a great storm was raging, and blowing so hard that he could scarcely keep his feet; houses and trees toppled over, the mountains trembled, rocks rolled into the sea, the sky was pitch black, and it thundered and lightened, and the sea came in with black waves as high as church-towers and mountains, and all with crests of white foam at the top. Then he cried, but could not hear his own words,Burnt! I think this couple needs counseling.
“Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Come, I pray thee, here to me;
For my wife, good Ilsabil,
Wills not as I’d have her will.”
“Well, what does she want, then?” said the Flounder. “Alas,” said he, “she wants to be like unto God.” “Go to her, and you will find her back again in the dirty hovel.” And there they are living still at this very time.