One thing I've always loved about fairy tales is that, when an odd being comes to you repeatedly in a dream, it's perfectly ok to listen to them and do whatever they say. It's not at all a sign that you're perhaps going insane, or taking too much [insert whatever might cause people to hallucinate here]. Also people don't often get burned at the stake for witchcraft in fairy tales, which you'd think would happen quite a bit, given the history of people's reaction to magical type happenings.
Random ponderings about the stories (and there are spoilers so beware):
The Twelve Dancing Princesses (one of my favorites)
- That the hero is a "cow-boy" and not a cow herder makes it hard for me not to giggle. Having always had Texans in the family my brain translates cowboy with a certain mental image. Except that everyone calls him Star Gazer, which my brain feels is very 1960s Psychedelia-ish.
- Hero is a cow-boy, yet also feels dismissive of the village girls:
"The fact was he thought them very ugly, with their sun-burnt necks, their great red hands, their coarse petticoats and their wooden shoes. He had heard that somewhere in the world there were girls whose necks were white and whose hands were small, who were always dressed in the finest silks and laces, and were called princesses, and while his companions round the fire saw nothing in the flames but common everyday fancies, he dreamed that he had the happiness to marry a princess."So while he's been out communing with the herd all day - and probably getting a sun-burnt neck - he's somehow learned to become a snob and take up weird concepts of beauty that should be foreign to him. Odd kid.
- How is it that the daughters are Princesses, but their father is a Duke? Must be a localthing.
- Hero, invisible, hides himself under a bed and thus can see nothing of the princesses changing into their ball gowns. ...Uh huh, like I believe that of a boy who's just been granted the power to become invisible. Suspicious:
"Michael could see nothing from his hiding-place, but he could hear everything, and he listened to the princesses laughing and jumping with pleasure."Sorry, I don't believe he could hear them jumping. Moving around maybe, but jumping is awfully specific.
- Something tells me we don't get to hear how these boys ended up at the magic castle:
"When the cock crowed the third time the fiddles stopped, and a delicious supper was served by negro boys..."
- Sending people to the tower: "For this was the way that in old times beautiful princesses got rid of people who knew too much." - from which we learn that princess aren't nice. (Yet another example.)
- Wait, when/how did the cow-boy learn how to dance? It's never mentioned and then suddenly once he's dressed up is able to dance gracefully.
- So this is a scene worth more than one sentence:
" The rest of the princes fell likewise at the knees of the princesses, each of whom chose a husband and raised him to her side.That's 50 guys falling at the feet of 11 women, because hero gets the 12th. That took a lot of sorting out, I'll bet. Hmmm. 50/11 = 4.55, so some of the sisters didn't get an even amount of suitors. (Fairy tales and math problems - why didn't my teachers try that?!)
- Enchanted castle crumbles to the ground, presumably with the "negro boy" pages inside?!?!?! (Definitely do not remember this from the version I read as a kid.)
- Hero's wife, the princess, has him tell her how he discovered the secret, and once he does she has him chop down the laurel trees that helped him. Again, princesses aren't nice.
The Princess Mayblossom
- Multiple nurse deaths
- Lock a girl in a tower and do not be surprised when she falls in love with an ambassador. This is also what happens if ambassadors dress too well.
Soria Moria Castle
- Sitting at home in the fireplace ashes ("grubbing" in them) is actually a way to job hunt, because then sea captains will appear offering jobs.
- This is a first - not only does our hero kill the evil giant troll(s), he stays afterwards to clean up the dead body before moving on to the next killing. Which is really considerate. Seriously, I can't remember another story where the hero stops to clean up.
The Death Of Koshchei The Deathless
- In some stories guardians of girls are insanely picky over whom they are allowed to marry. Meanwhile in this story, the brother allows his sisters to marry birds. Who turn into men. Interesting.
The Black Thief and Knight of the Glen
- I've heard the word henwife but for some reason imagine the scene she's in as the queen having a discussion with a giant chicken.
- A fixed card game!
- Scheherazade strategy!
The Master Thief
- The exclamation "Hutetu" is used here, as in some of the other tales. All I can find out about it is that it's old Norse.
- Odd moments in costuming:
"So he dressed himself up like a bird, and threw a great white sheet over himself; broke off a goose's wings, and set them on his back; and in this attire climbed into a great maple tree which stood in the Priest's garden.And then he tells the priest that he's an angel. Because the Master Thief is that good at practical jokes.
- Dead body theft!
Brother And Sister
- Cruel stepmother is a witch in disguise.
- Beware of talking water.
- Where did this girl get a "golden garter" - no mention that they're royals...
- Don't let someone lock you into a bathroom. Problem is they'll pick a moment when you're weak, like when you've just given birth.
- Witch burned at the stake, so it does happen sometimes.
- Two princes go off in search of the King of the Peacocks and leave their sister, who has been raised in a tower away from the world, to rule the kingdom. (And none of the ministers said "wait, um, stop for a minute and let's think about this" - ????)
- I have now learned that the Kingdom of the Cockchafer is really all about the may beetle. Or may bug, mitchamador, billy witch, or spang beetle. Fairy tales: teaching you about entomology when you least expect it.
- Phoenix feathers are a great thing to stuff mattress with as they will always float upon water. And you never know when that might be helpful.
- I still feel this would have been a better story if we'd just been told where the princess found her green dog.
The Enchanted Pig (oddly not listed in the contents)
- If anyone is ever told "don't go/look into room X" - you know someone will go/look into it. Also there's rarely ever a reason NOT to tell them why they shouldn't check that room out, especially if there's something/someone dangerous inside. (view spoiler)[(Inside this room? A book.) (hide spoiler)]