Much of this month will be devoted to Bluebeard as my newest title--Bluebeard Tales From Around the World--becomes available. I have so much material and background to share but my brain is filled with the upcoming collections. The lag time between my book editing and publication time is very short compared to most authors so I have gained much sympathy with them in their own book promotions and interviews. Most likely they are already one or two projects ahead in their brains and looking back is much harder than it appears.
As trite as it sounds, your favorite project is always the one you are currently working on since you pretty much have to be in love with it to get the work accomplished. Yes, when they are all done, there will be favorites and Bluebeard will be one of mine as well as Sleeping Beauties: Sleeping Beauty and Snow White Tales From Around the World. I know Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella which I have been working on for a long time will also be among my personal favorites, but I am enjoying them all.
I started out this book with the intention to just collect some tales, translate some more, and publish a book similar in scope to Sleeping Beauties. I had been working on the Cinderella collection for several months and suffered a semi-serious illness* with a long term recovery over the winter which fried my brain even more. I was having problems concentrating after my body was abused and this blog managed to carry on but not much else in my folkloric side of life. Cinderella, understandably considering its scope, was overwhelming me so I set it aside to work on what seemed to be a more manageable project: Bluebeard. It was simpler than Cinderella in many ways, but also more complicated.
As I read and researched Bluebeard variants rather exhaustively, I finally began to feel like my brain had returned to its pre-illness fighting stance and fell in love with the project. I found 88 tales to share, 20 of which I translated, as well as ballads. I could have stopped there. That was plenty for a book, but my research took me in many directions and I realized just how pervasive Bluebeard was in past centuries, more than I had realized. These days the average person on the street thinks the character is a legendary pirate, not a serial killer from a fairy tale. I was told as much when I read references to him many years ago and asked the grown-ups for explanations. They didn't have them. It's rather stunning how much Bluebeard has disappeared actually.
One of the most influential genres for Bluebeard was the theatre. Countless plays, operas, operettas, burlesques, etc. were produced especially in the 19th century. Then there were the short stories, poems and picture books/penny books of the tale. I didn't touch the last but it was tempting. The others I had to include to some extent. So I carefully edited and formatted six plays for the collection. I will discuss those in more detail in a future entry, but they are fascinating.
And really a great thesis is just awaiting an interested scholar. There is a wealth of material to choose from when it comes to Bluebeard. I had to limit myself to 822 pages and squeezed much room out of the space. I will be sharing some of those other great sources this month, too.
*No, nothing too horrible, just a severe case of Salmonella poisoning of all things. Not enough to complain about, but it wasn't diagnosed immediately and resulted in weeks of fevers and even more months of messed up digestion and other issues. It was the worst illness with the worst recovery problems so far of my adult life. And I'll stop there since this blog really isn't about my health issues. There are reasons these outbreaks hit the news. They can be very serious, even if you aren't a young child or elderly.