marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Grandfather Tales

Grandfather Tales: American-English Folk Tales by Richard Chase

A collection of tales from North Carolina and Virginia, retold, wrapped in a frame story of an evening telling tales, with a few other chapters of folkloric elements.  Chase himself took to tell such stories many times before he decided which version to present.  With notes about where he collected them, what tale types, and other things.  Like why he wrestled with putting in "Like Meat Loves Salt".

King Lear, of course, uses the trope "Love Like Salt" with some tweaks. What "Like Meat Loves Salt" does is apparently reimport the play back into the folk tale. The heroine, like "Cap O'Rushes", uses salt rather than nothing, but then she is stuck in a tower and rescued within a paragraph instead of the the usual job and three balls.  The tale follows her father instead, rejected by the other two and gone mad.  His daughter finally brings him back by serving him a meal without salt, which makes him remember.

There are two Cinderella tales.  I was first alerted to this book by a discussion of them. and it said that "Catskins" was of a rather unpleasant Cinderella, which I find overstated; then, my standard is "Cenerentola", in which the "heroine" has two stepmothers, the second one having lured her into murdering the first on the claims she would be better.  Catskins only tricks a man who exploited her into giving her fancy dresses.  (It's one of the "run-away-and-work-in-a-kitchen" variants.)  "Ashpet" is closer to the Cinderella form, though she's a hired girl, not a stepdaughter; she gets her help by being polite to a witch; and she deliberately works off her shoe so as to distract the young man, escaping while he's looking.  Also a very funny scene where the witch does the washing Ashpet was left to do.

There are also variants on a lot of other tales.  "Gallymanders!  Gallymanders!" on the kind and unkind girls, "Mutsmag" on the boy tricks the ogre, though, like "Mollie Whuppie", it's actually a girl; "Whitebear Whittington" on "East of the Sun, West of the Moon".  Also some tales of sillies, some tall tales, and one impressive transplantation of Robin Hood to the United States.

"Sody Sallyraytus" has to be the oddest title -- it's just a dialetical term for baking soda.
Tags: fairy tale reviews

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