June 18: Lentilella

The lentils, after being sorted by magical friends (blogger's conception)

The Brothers Grimm apparently lived in the same house all their lives; I wonder what they made of Cinderella, the last word in sibling-rivalry stories (or is it the first word? Wikipedia says there are versions of this story in Egyptian myths). Maybe they tried to hide their opinion in the service of objectivity, and the evidence of this is the fact that the men come off very badly in this story.

First of all, Cinderella's dad is around the whole time, he's even at the festival where Cinderella makes her splashes. ("Festival" instead of "ball" and "splashes," plural -- the big prince set-piece is a three day, no night deal. Perhaps it's like a State Fair, although there's no mention of fried dough. Maybe it's a lentil festival -- sorting lentils is also a big deal in this story.) He's also there at the big climax:
“This also is not the right one,” said he, “have you no other daughter?” “No,” said the man, “There is still a little stunted kitchen-wench which my late wife left behind her, but she cannot possibly be the bride.”
It's not news, but it's always shocking how rude they were, in the old school. Not that the prince is much better -- when Cinderella runs off the first time she hides in the pigeon house, and the prince and her father decide to chop it down in order to search for her. Real smart.

The other big difference is no Fairy Godmother, instead the magic is related to her mother's grave, which is much more economical storytelling as opposed to bringing in a whole other supernatural entity. Mom is stepping up where Dad won't; one wonders why she died -- foul play, perhaps? There's also less magic -- lentil-sorting (by no means easy, I admit) and dressing her up for the ball:
On the third day, when the parents and sisters had gone away, Cinderella once more went to her mother’s grave and said to the little tree—
“Shiver and quiver, my little tree,

Silver and gold throw down over me.”
And now the bird threw down to her a dress which was more splendid and magnificent than any she had yet had, and the slippers were golden. And when she went to the festival in the dress, no one knew how to speak for astonishment.

Because it wasn't a day dress. Magnificent gowns always look weird in sunshine (a small feature of Los Angeles is seeing people get into limos for awards shoes at two in the afternoon). Also, her magical friends are narc:s
They were, however, obliged to pass the grave, and there, on the hazel-tree, sat the two pigeons and cried,
“Turn and peep, turn and peep,

There’s blood within the shoe,

The shoe it is too small for her,

The true bride waits for you.”
Then he looked at her foot and saw how the blood was streaming from it.
Her stepsister had cut her toe off in order to wear the slipper, a detail I would have loved to see Disney animate. As I believe is typical for the Bros. Grimm, it's a lot more gory than the version we Americans get (we prefer our violence in real life, thank you).

No comments: