Friday, 24 May 2019

Fairy Tale Friday All-Kinds-Of-Fur (Germany, 1812)


Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.

Since November of 2018 we have been exploring variations on the classic fairy tale Cinderella. For seven months we have looked at the Aarne-Thompson Uther classification 510a which deals with persecuted heroines. This is the most well know variant of the Cinderella style tales. But there is another variation.

ATU classification 510b is entitled unnatural love. This is a subcategory of persecuted heroines where our young and beautiful protagonist is pursued sexually by her own father. She must disguise herself as ugly to ward off unwanted sexual advances and travel far and wide on her own to another kingdom. These disguises often involve the skin or feathers of animals (e.g. Donkeyskin or Thousand Furs).  There the story often merges with the 510a motifs. She sheds her animalistic appearance, goes to a ball and wins the hand of the Prince. 

Pitt.edu says that 510b folktales include the follow the following motifs:
  • ·     A dying woman extracts from her husband the promise that he will remarry only if he can find a woman that fits a certain description.
  •       After a period of mourning, the widower discovers that only his daughter meets the requirements for remarriage set by his deceased wife, and he asks her to marry him.
  •      The daughter, in order to buy time, and in hope of dissuading her father, asks for a number of gifts, but he finds these with little difficulty.
  •      Seeing no other solution to her dilemma, the girl dresses herself in an unusual garb and runs away.
  •      She finds both refuge and abuse in another man's household, where she serves as a maid.
  •      She temporarily escapes from the kitchen where she works and makes a series of appearances at a dress ball.
  •      A prince falls in love with the heroine in her beautiful attire. He discovers that the beautiful woman is none other than his maid, and he marries her.
  •     In some versions of the story, the incest motif that sets the plot into motion is suppressed, with a different conflict being given between father and daughter.
I would also like to add that often the prince is incredibly abusive to her in her rough, disguised form but softens once he knows she is secretly a princess. This makes them both not very likeable—him for being so abusive to his servants and her for forgiving and forgetting quite so easily once she is no longer a servant herself.

So for the next few months, we will be looking at variations of this classic tales with an incest theme.

The story that I chose to look at first is All-Kinds-Of-Fur (or Allerleirauh in German) which roughly translates as Thousand Furs. It was collected by the Brothers Grimm and published in Kinder- und Hausmärchen in 1812. It was republished in a slightly sanitised form in 1819 where the Grimms de-emphasise the abusive nature of their relationship (he throws his boots at her head every night). They also made clearer in later version that her fiancé that is mentioned is not her father. There are some difficulty with pronouns in this one right at the start—it is hard to work out which he we are talking about, her father or her sweetheart.

This version is unusual in that she flees to her fiancé’s kingdom and works in his household as a servant before revealing herself. Most versions the prince is a stranger to her, and she earns his love when she is all cleaned up. I found it interesting that he does not readily recognise her, despite being engaged to her. He sort of does—she looks like his fiancée, but he is never certain until the end. However he does recognise the small golden trinkets that he gave her. I found it quite interesting that he can recognise objects over a person.

You can read it in the original German {HERE}
Allerleirauh by Henry Justice Ford (1892) 02.jpg
by Henry Justice Ford


All-Kinds-of-Fur source
Once upon a time there was a king whose wife was the most beautiful woman in the world, with hair of pure gold. Together they had a daughter, and she was as beautiful as her mother, and she had the same golden hair. The queen became ill, and when she felt that she was about to die, she called the king to her side and asked him not to marry anyone following her death, unless she was just as beautiful as she, and unless her hair was just as golden as hers. The king made this promise, and she died.

For a long time the king was so grieved that he did not think about a second wife, but finally his councillors advised him to marry again. He sent messengers to all the princesses, but none was as beautiful as the deceased queen, and such golden hair could not be found anywhere in the world.

Then one day the king's glance fell on his daughter, and he saw that she looked just like her mother, and that she had the same golden hair. He thought to himself, "You will never find anyone in the world this beautiful. You will have to marry your daughter." And in that instant, he felt such a strong love for her, that he immediately announced his decision to his councillors. They tried to dissuade him, but to no avail.

The princess was horrified at his godless intentions, but because she was clever, she told the king that he should first get her three dresses: one as golden as the sun, one as white as the moon, one that glistened like the stars. Further, he was to get her a coat made from a thousand kinds of fur. Every animal in the kingdom would have to give up a piece of its skin for it.

The king was so fervent in his desires, that he had his huntsmen capture animals from across the entire kingdom. They were skinned, and a coat was made from their pelts. Thus, it did not take long before he brought the princess everything that she had asked for.

The princess said that she would marry him the next day. That night she sought out the presents that she had received from her fiancé: a golden ring, a little golden spinning wheel, and a little golden yarn reel. She put the three dresses into a nutshell, blackened her hands and face with soot, put on the coat of all kinds of fur, and left. She walked the entire night until she came to a great forest. She would be safe there. Because she was tired, she sat down in a hollow tree and fell asleep.

She was still asleep the next day when the king, her fiancé, came to this forest to hunt. His dogs ran up to the tree and sniffed at it. The king sent his huntsmen to see what kind of animal was in the tree. They came back and said that it was a strange animal, the likes of which they had never seen before. It had every kind of fur on its skin, and it was lying there asleep. The king ordered them to capture it and to tie it onto the back of his carriage. As the huntsmen were doing this, they saw that it was a girl. They tied her onto the back of the carriage and rode home with her.

"All-Kinds-of-Fur," they said, "you are good for the kitchen. You can carry water and wood and clean out the ashes." Then they gave her a little stall beneath the steps, where the light of day never shone, and said, "This is where you can live and sleep."

So she had to help the cook in the kitchen. She plucked chickens, tended the fire, gathered vegetables, and did all the dirty work. Because she did very well at all this, the cook was good to her, and in the evening, he often invited her in and gave her something to eat from the leftovers. Before the king went to bed, she had to go upstairs and pull off his boots. When she had pulled them off, he always threw them at her head. Poor All-Kinds-of-Fur lived like this for a long time. Oh, you beautiful maiden, what will become of you?

Once there was a ball at the castle, and All-Kinds-of-Fur thought that she might see her fiancé once again, so she went to the cook and asked him if he would allow her to go upstairs a little and look in at the splendour from the doorway. "Go ahead," said the cook, "but do not stay longer than a half hour. You still have to clean out the ashes tonight."

Then All-Kinds-of-Fur took her little oil lamp and went to her stall where she washed off the soot. Her beauty came forth just like blossoms in the springtime. She took off the fur coat, opened up the nut and took out the dress that glistened like the sun. She put it on and went upstairs. Everyone made room for her and thought that a noble princess had entered the hall. The king immediately invited her to dance, and as he danced with her, he thought how closely this unknown princess resembled his own fiancée. The longer he looked at her, the stronger the resemblance. He was almost certain that this was his fiancée, and at the end of the dance, he was going to ask her. However, when they finished dancing, she bowed, and before the king knew what was happening, she disappeared.

He asked the watchmen, but none of them had seen the princess leave the castle. She had run quickly to her stall, taken off the dress, blackened her hands and face, and put on the fur coat once again. Then she went to the kitchen to clean out the ashes, but the cook said, "Leave them until morning. I want to go upstairs and have a look at the dance. You make some soup for the king, but don't let any hairs fall into it, or there will be nothing more to eat for you."

All-Kinds-of-Fur made some bread soup for the king, then she put the golden ring in it that he had given her. When the ball was over, the king had his bread soup brought to him. It tasted better than any he had ever eaten. When he was finished, he found the ring on the bottom of the bowl. Looking at it carefully, he saw that it was his engagement ring. Astonished, he could not understand how it had gotten there. He summoned the cook, who then became very angry with All-Kinds-of-Fur. "You must have let a hair fall into the soup," he said. "If you did, there will be blows for you."

However, when the cook went upstairs, the king asked him who had made the soup, because it had been better than usual. The king had to confess that it had been All-Kinds-of-Fur. Then the king had her sent up to him. "Who are you?" he asked upon her arrival. "What are you doing in my castle, and where did you get the ring that was lying in the soup?"

She answered, "I am only a poor child whose father and mother are dead. I have nothing, and I am good for nothing more than having boots thrown at my head. And I know nothing about the ring." With that she ran away.

Soon there was another ball. All-Kinds-of-Fur again asked the cook to allow her to go upstairs. The cook gave his permission, but only for a half hour, because by then she would have to be back in the kitchen to make the king's bread soup. All-Kinds-of-Fur went to her stall, washed herself clean, and took out the moon-dress. It was purer and brighter than newly fallen snow. When she arrived upstairs the dance had just begun. The king extended his hand to her, and danced with her, and no longer doubted that this was his fiancée, for no one else in the world had such golden hair. However, the princess immediately slipped out when the dance ended, and the king, in spite of his great effort, could not find her. Further, he had not spoken a single word with her.

She was All-Kinds-of-Fur once again, with blackened hands and face. She took her place in the kitchen and made bread soup for the king, while the cook went upstairs to have a look. When the soup was ready, she put the golden spinning wheel in it. The king ate the soup and thought that it was even better this time. When he found the golden spinning wheel, he was even more astonished, because it had been a present from him to his fiancée some time ago. The cook was summoned again, and then All-Kinds-of-Fur, but once again she answered by saying that she knew nothing about it, and that she was there only to have boots thrown at her head.

For the third time, the king held a ball. He hoped that his fiancée would come again, and he would not let her escape this time. All-Kinds-of-Fur again asked the cook to allow her to go upstairs, but he scolded her, saying, "You are a witch. You are always putting things in the soup. And you can cook better than I can." But because she begged so, and promised to behave herself, he gave her permission to go upstairs for a half hour.

She put on the dress of stars. It glistened like stars in the night. She went upstairs and danced with the king, and he thought that he had never seen her more beautiful. While dancing, he slipped a ring onto her finger. He had ordered that it should be a very long dance. He could not bring himself to speak to her, nor could he keep her from escaping. As soon as the dance ended, she jumped into the crowd and disappeared before he could turn around.

She ran to her stall. Because she had been gone more than a half hour, she quickly took off her dress, and in her rush she failed to blacken herself entirely. One finger remained white. When she returned to the kitchen, the cook had already left. She quickly made some bread soup and put the golden yarn reel into it.

The king found it, just as he had found the ring and the golden spinning wheel, and now he knew for sure that his fiancée was nearby, for no one else could have had these presents. All-Kinds-of-Fur was summoned. Once again, she tried to make an excuse and then run away, but as she ran by, the king noticed a white finger on her hand, and he held her fast. He found the ring that he had slipped onto her finger, and then he ripped off her fur coat. Her golden hair flowed out, and he saw that it was his dearly beloved fiancée. The cook received a generous reward. Then they got married and lived happily until they died.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for another version of All-Kinds-Of-Fur from Greece.

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