Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Basque Beauty and the Beast Tale--With Another Serpent Beast, Too

I shared an ATU 425C: Beauty and the Beast tale with a snake as the beast yesterday--The Prince Who Was Changed into a Snake: A Beauty and the Beast Tale from Cyprus--from Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World and I have another for today. This one is from the French side of the Basque region, collected by Wentworth Webster and published in 1877. The title is quite simply, "Beauty and the Beast," which isn't very helpful is it?

This tale varies in many way from the original tale we know so well. The youngest daughter is neglected by her father who never brings her gifts until the one time he thinks to ask her. She asks for flowers and trouble, of course, ensues.

This is also a rare tale that offers names for the heroine and hero. Here's an excerpt:

The youngest, after some days, said to him, “What is the matter with you, my father, that you are so sad? Has someone done you some hurt?”

He said to her, “When I went to get your nosegay, a voice said to me, ‘I must have one of your daughters, before the year be completed,’ and now I do not know what I must do. It told me that I shall be burned.”

This daughter said to him, “My father, do not be troubled about it. I will go.”

And she sets out immediately in a carriage. She arrives at the castle and goes in, and she hears music and sounds of rejoicing everywhere, and yet she did not see anyone. She finds her chocolate ready (in the morning), and her dinner the same. She goes to bed, and still she does not see anyone. The next morning a voice says to her: “Shut your eyes; I wish to place my head on your knees for a moment.”

“Come, come; I am not afraid.”

There appears then an enormous serpent. Without intending it, the young lady could not help giving a little shudder. An instant after the serpent went away; and the young lady lived very happily, without lacking anything. One day the voice asked her if she did not wish to go home.

She answers, “I am very happy here. I have no longing for it.”

“Yes, if you like, you may go for three days.”

He gives her a ring, and says to her, “If that changes colour, I shall be ill, and if it turns to blood, I shall be in great misery.”

The young lady sets out for her father’s house. Her father was very glad (to see her). Her sisters said to her: “You must be happy there. You are prettier than you were before. With whom do you live there?”

She told them, “With a serpent.” They would not believe her. The three days flew by like a dream, and she forgot her serpent. The fourth day she looked at her ring, and she saw that it was changed. She rubs it with her finger, and it begins to bleed. Seeing that she goes running to her father, and says to him that she is going. She arrives at the castle, and finds everything sad. The music will not play—everything was shut up. She called the serpent (his name was Azor, and hers Fifine). She kept on calling and crying out to him, but Azor appeared nowhere. After having searched the whole house, after having taken off her shoes, she goes to the garden, and there too she cries out. She finds a corner of the earth in the garden quite frozen, and immediately she makes a great fire over this spot, and there Azor comes out, and he says to her:

“You had forgotten me, then. If you had not made this fire, it would have been all up with me.”

The transformation scene is quite different, too. If you are interested, you can read the entire tale on the SurLaLune site, too, without the book. Read it at Beauty and the Beast.

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