Earlier this week, Kristin over at Tales of Faerie shared Beauty and the Beast in Greece: Part I and Beauty and the Beast in Greece: Part II in which she discussed the Greek versions of Beauty and the Beast tales that appear in Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World (SurLaLune Fairy Tales).
From her first post:
Sometimes reading through a collection of versions of the same fairy tale may seem daunting, because many times versions are so similar it feels like reading the same story over and over again. Yet I find my Surlalune Fairy Tale Series books invaluable-not only for comparing and contrasting similar tales, but because there are so many unexpected and surprising versions of the tales. These samples from Greece are just a few examples of the different versions of "Beauty and the Beast" that will provide interest to even those who are familiar with most standard European versions. (Many of these are closer to "Cupid and Psyche" than BATB: there may not be a rose, and the husband may not be beastly at all, but supernatural-the classification is technically "Search for the Lost Husband" and not "Animal Bridegroom").
It has been over two years since I read most of those tales and she made me want to reread my own book. Believe me, when you read over 200 versions of a tale for consideration in a book like Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World, most of them blend together. Then there's the issue that I've been working on other collections since--soon there will be two new releases, so stay tuned!--so my brain is overly full with some wonderful fairy tales.
But reading Kristin's great summaries and discussions of "Donkeyskin" (no, not that one!) and "The Lord of the Underearth" and "The Sleeping Prince" and "The Sugar Man" and "The Enchanted Head" reminded me of how much I LOVED working on that collection of variants of my favorite fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. It was so rich with variations and interesting quirks and I fell in love with so many tales that we elected for smaller type size just to make room for more. There was a debate of a second volume, too. The variations are so vast that there is much less repetition than you anticipate over the 188 tales included.
And it's no surprise that the Greek versions of the tale are some of the most interesting. There tends to be more murders, more odd things ingested, and overall more strangeness in Greek variants of many tale types. Forget the Grimms, the Greeks are really grim.
So thanks, Kristin, for the walk down my memory lane. And for reminding me of just how unexpected tales like "The Lord of the Underearth" are. Eating rotting feet, gender cross dressing, a beauty and a beast are only a few things to be found in those pages. Then there's the plethora of disembodied heads in folklore. There's some in Beauty and the Beast tales as Kristin points out in her post, but even more in Kind and Unkind Girls tales. Did you know it's rude to point out to someone that their head is missing or unattached? Important fairy tale etiquette folks! But more about that in weeks to come!