Thursday, 5 April 2012

Fairy Tale Review: 'East of the Sun and West of the Moon'

I'm so far behind in the atozchallenge, that I'm this close to giving up! But whether I make it through to the 26 posts or not, I've decided to complete my review of the 26 fairy tales I'd initially chosen, so here I go with alphabet 'E' for the Norwegian classic East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

A variant of the Beauty and the Beast tale, East of the Sun and West of the Moon is rather more intricate in many ways. Here, the youngest beautiful daughter of a peasant family brings them out of poverty by agreeing to wed a white bear (ie a 'Beast'), who takes the form of a human prince at night. The girl stays up one night to see his face by candlelight, but inadvertently spills three drops of tallow on the Prince's shirt. This incident unexpectedly brings into effect a curse by the Prince's stepmother, a troll - the Prince is now compelled to leave the heroine and return to the troll Queen's castle, a castle that lies east of the sun and west of the moon, where he is to marry a troll princess as arranged by said stepmum. The tragedy is that the stepmother's curse would actually have been lifted after a year of marriage to our heroine if only she hadn't been so impatient to take that midnight peek at her beautiful prince.

What follows is rather different from what we get in Beauty and the Beast. In the Norwegian version, the heroine must travel far and wide to seek the troll Queen's castle, getting there only with the help of three old women and the winds from the four corners of the Earth (East, West, South and North winds). Once she gets there, she rescues her Prince from the trolls and they live happily ever after (hmmmm, that comes up a lot, doesn't it?).

The bits about this fairy tale that I really adored included the powerful imagery relating to the girl's sorrow at having to leave her family to marry the white bear, the depiction of the heroine's courage and determination to seek a castle that no road led to, and the way in which Nature's elements conspired to help her find her love again. Also, it was pretty cool to see the heroine rescue the hero for once, instead of the other way around:)

If you're thinking of getting hold of this particular tale, I would recommend getting the copy that's featured in Maria Tartar's Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, simply because it contains lots of juicy commentary about the historical and cultural contexts of a very richly layered story. I hope you enjoyed this post, and happy reading!:)


Share/Bookmark Subscribe

8 comments:

Teresa Cypher aka T K CypherBuss said...

Wow...wonderful post! I love tales, and that humans have been telling them as long as their has been a way for history to record them having done so. Different cultures...different tales, but so many overlapping lessons taught in them. :-)

eeleenlee said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog- agree with you about writing comedy!

Love fairytales too! They're still, in a sense, a tradition.

Damyanti said...

Don't give up--- just find the letter of the day and write a few lines :)

--Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012
Amlokiblogs

Twitter: @AprilA2Z
#atozchallenge

Damyanti said...

Stopping by again, Isabella. Hope all is well.


--Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

Twitter: @AprilA2Z
#atozchallenge

Isabella Amaris said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone:)

Teresa, that's definitely one of the reasons I love fairytales so much; amazing how connected human cultures are, both historically and just in their humanity:)

eeleenlee, thanks for dropping by:) Yes, I'm glad they're still a tradition! May they always be so:)

Damyanti, thanks so much for popping over:) All is well, just a bit consumed by a WIP and some non-writerly projects. It's a bit of a let down because I was hoping to take be an active participant in the challenge this year. But anyway, maybe I'll bounce back some time next week:) Will pop by to have a look at your latest entry. Cheers:)

Teresa Cypher aka T K CypherBuss said...

Thanks for stopping and visiting, Isabella! I do hope you find some time to write more. This is a fantastic theme. :-)

Francene Stanley said...

I like the title: East of the Sun and West of the Moon better than Beauty and the Beast. Funny. Now you mention it, I've never considered how beauty would feel in her isolation. Good point, we should consider the unusual in our writing. Blog on!

http://francene-wordstitcher.blogspot.com.

Isabella Amaris said...

Thanks, Francene. That's definitely one of the joys of reading fairytales. There are so many powerful variants of the same tale that it allows for different themes/twists to the tale to be drawn from each reading. Cheers:)