Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cinderella Tales: The Golden Bull, or, The Crafty Princess

First of all, yesterday's post was edited into oblivion by accident--that's what I get for not writing it in Word first. It was about the Grimms and more thoughts on Perrault. I am sure it was one of the best and most profound posts I have ever written. Not that I can ever prove that to you! Actually, I am sad because I did think a few deeper thoughts than usual, but I will try to recreate for a later post. For now, I'm skipping Grimms and sharing The Golden Bull today. It mostly predates the brothers anyway.

From my book, Cinderella Tales From Around the World:

Another tale, The Golden Bull, or, The Crafty Princess: In Four Parts, an ATU 510B tale, was popular during the 18th and early 19th centuries with numerous chapbook editions published in Great Britain and Scotland as well as in North America. A version of this last tale is not included in this collection, but can be found in internet databases. One edition, dated 1750, has the following extended description:

The Golden Bull; or, The Crafty Princess, in four parts.—1. How a king courted his own daughter for marriage, threatning her with death if she would not consent to be his wife. 2. The lady's craftiness to be convey'd over sea in a golden bull to the prince she loved. 3. How her arrival and love came to be made known to the young prince. 4. How her death was contrived by three ladies in her lover's absence: how she was preserved, and soon after married to the young prince: with other remarkable accidents that happened.
The multiple editions of this tale and their publication dates provide one of the illustrative points on how ATU 510B Donkeyskin and its variants virtually disappeared in English during the latter 19th century. The Victorian era suppressed the incest themes in these tales and then they began to lose momentum in collections, too. The tale is still well known in France, but the average English speaking person on the street would just look at you funny if you asked them about Donkeyskin or any of the other titles with the incest element. "That's not a fairy tale I've ever heard of," they'd say.

But the tale was relatively well-known prior to then, even in North America. The abundance of chapbook editions helps to convey that. It wouldn't be printed and bought so often if it wasn't wanted by the reading public. A simple search of WorldCat, for example, shows many listings with several estimated publication dates as well as various cities of publication around the U.K. and in the U.S. It's around until the early 1800s and then poof, gone! And when they do appear, the marriage demands from the fathers are edited.

No comments:

Post a Comment