Monday, December 2, 2013

Eastward of the Sun, and Westward of the Moon

from FAIRY TALES FROM ALL NATIONS by ANTHONY R. MONTALBA with twenty-four illustrations by RICHARD DOYLE

"East of the Sun and West of the Moon" was collected and recorded by the renowned Norwegian folklorists, Peter Christen Asbjornsen and Jorgen Moe. They published it around 1845 in one of their first collections of tales. The tale had been previously popular in Scandinavian countries and then gained popularity in the United Kingdom and United states after the first English translation appeared in FAIRY TALES FROM ALL NATIONS (1949) by ANTHONY R. MONTALBA with twenty-four illustrations by RICHARD DOYLE. The tale of the title was given as "Eastward of the Sun, and Westward of the Moon."

That also makes the above illustration one of the earliest illustrations for the tale by Richard Doyle. Doyle also illustrated Grimms and other fairy imagery for which he is most famous, from what is considered his masterpiece, In Fairyland, a series of Pictures from the Elf World. You will have seen his work previously if you have looked at antique fairy images to any degree. (And he was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's uncle!)

I'm so happy that title has been simplified over the years with other translations. Eastward and westward are perhaps more poetic but they can also be clunky in a fairy tale title already longer than most.

The tale today is perhaps the best known and most loved of all the ATU 425A The Animal as Bridegroom group of tales. The tale has many variants around Europe and is much older than the 1845 publication date, but exact dates for the Norwegian iterations, as always, are elusive.

I think this week I will focus on ATU 425A tales with extra posts on East of the Sun and West of the Moon publications since there are some great ones out there with beautiful illustrations.

And, as always, the tale and many like it appear in Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World.

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