Thursday, January 24, 2013

Early Cinderella: Doralice in Italy

More of you weren't excited about Pernette yesterday? Oh well. I entertained John with her story as my enthusiasm for her was reawakened at least. Love that tale. But time for another one today...

From my book, Cinderella Tales From Around the World:

Le piacevoli notti, most often translated as The Facetious Nights or The Pleasant Nights, by Giovanni Francesco Straparola, was first published in two parts in 1550 and 1553. Little is known about Straparola—most likely not his real surname—but he is often called the “father (or godfather) of the literary fairy tale” since his Le piacevoli notti contains several tales that are precursors to later literary fairy tales. This is open to debate but nevertheless his work is an important click on any timeline of fairy tale history, for whoever the author and whatever his sources and methods, Le piacevoli notti gathers tales presented under the conceit that they were shared at a thirteen day festival in Venice, similar to the framing conceit of many collections around this era from The Decameron to The Canterbury Tales. They range widely in subject and style with many ribald and extremely violent elements. It has rarely been translated into English with one of the earliest English translators, W. G. Waters, translating some parts into French instead of English to protect the sensibilities of his readers.

The fourth tale of the first night is not titled, none of the tales are, but is familiarly known as either “Doralice,” “Tebaldo,” or “Doralice and Tebaldo.” Doralice, the heroine, has an incestuous father and the tale is considered an ATU 510B tale. It can also be further categorized as the less common ATU 510B* The Princess in the Chest. Waters’ translation of the tale appears in this collection under the title of Doralice and was fortunately considered tame enough to be rendered completely into English. Another excellent translation, “Doralice and Her Incestuous Father, Tebaldo,” with extensive commentary and resources can be found in The Pleasant Nights, Volume 1 by Giovan Francesco Straparola edited by Donald Beecher (2012). Beecher includes an overview of the possible inspirations for Doralice, as well as the tales that followed it, many of which are included in the present collection.

While we're here, I can rave about the Don Beecher volumes mentioned above: The Pleasant Nights: Volume 1 (Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library - The Pleasant Nights) and The Pleasant Nights: Volume 2 (Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library - The Pleasant Nights). They were my SurLaLune splurge last year and I don't regret the purchase at all. (They're academically priced, alas!)

The translation in these is based upon Waters (which you can find on SurLaLune) but updated and corrected. And the notes! Lovely, lovely notes and commentary on the tales. Worth the price of admission. I am consulting this regularly during my research. I only wish I had had these years ago.


  1. That is one heck of a violent story--especially when Telbaldo visits his daughter in disguise for revenge. I do love the romantic way the king discovers Doralice though.

    Since you're posting the unusual Cinderella tales in your book, might I suggest Klein Else? I just finished reading that one last night and it's really unusual. It's one half Rumpelstiltskin, one half Donkeyskin and has a rare unhappy ending that I did not see coming.

  2. Thank you for posting this! I'd heard about this story, but could NEVER find anything on it online! Of course, that would be because the source from which I'd heard it misspelled the name as "Dorolis" rather than Doralis.