Last year I went to Swancon, where I attended a workshop on fairy tales by Juliet Marillier, who writes the most wonderful fairy tale-themed fiction herself. One of the things she told us about was a web site called Sur A Lune Fairy Tales which had all these variations on the folk tales we know and plenty we don’t. Of course, I ended up bookmarking it. It was full of the kind of stuff that would give me writing ideas, and you don’t even need to stick to Grimm or Perrault. For example, I’d written a story inspired by Snow White, and I found out tat there were versions of the story all over, not even only in Europe – some were in Lybia and Mozambique!
This evening I had a browse through the Cinderella stories, which are also pretty international. There was one before Perrault and Grimm, by someone called Basile, and oh, it was nasty! This Cinderella commits murder! She hates her stepmother, so her governess suggests she kills her by dropping a chest lid on her neck, which she does, then talk her Dad into marrying the governess, who then turns out to have six daughters and the rest of it is fairly familiar, with maybe a few small differences.
The French Cinderella, Cendrillon, is a bit passive, but at least she doesn’t kill anyone and her sisters are married to gentlemen of the court, not, like in the German version, cutting off their toes to fit the slipper.
It’s funny, though, how you can start with one thing and find yourself looking up something else. I was reading a blog post onThe History Girls about fleas in history. There was a quote from a fourteenth century book called The Goodman Of Paris, about how to keep your husband happy by making sure you get rid of fleas. I wondered if that was available from Project Gutenberg and instead I found a collection of fairy tales translated from Norse in the 19th century and that had an introduction mentioning the Scottish version of Cinderella. I wondered if that was up on my favourite fairy tale site. It was mentioned, but due to copyright isn’t on line, so I had a look at some others instead and there was an Italian version, Cenerentola, which is the one I mention above. And this comes from a collection that was on the web site in full.
It was fun even back when I had to look up what I wanted in a book, but now it’s even better, because I can go straight to a web site. You never know what you’re going to find out there, if you check out a link.