Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena
double_dear

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Folktales

We had a lot of free time yesterday, so we actually did pull out our folktale books and read a few stories. Aside from our bilingual Japanese folktale book (which we did not read from yesterday), we have A Pride of African Tales and The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese: And Other Tales of the Far North (the colon is there because the "and other tales of the Far North" is a subtitle.

The book of African tales is shorter and less detailed than the Far North tales book, but both of them have ten stories, so we couldn't just each take a book and trade; it would have been unbalanced. So we decided to read them at the same time, which doesn't allow for the most comfortable of reading positions, and that's why we only read a total of three stories. That, and we wanted to watch The Princess Diaries.

Both books had introductions about how stories are waaaay better when told out loud, so I think it would defeat the purpose to retell the stories that we read in text. Maybe if we met in person, but we'd have to reread the stories and learn them better. But both of the books are really great. The African tales were retold by a woman who grew up listening to the stories her father told her, and the Far North tales were retold by a man who visited some Inuit storytellers and did extensive research on their folktales and such. In that sense, I kind of think the African stories book was geared more towards children, while the Far North stories were geared towards everyone, from the perspective of a linguist. But the stories in general were created to entertain audiences of whoever, and they seem like they'd do a pretty good job.

It was kind of interesting reading the stories, because it was like, "There are so many great stories from everywhere! How come we keep retelling all the German ones?" Oh right, because those are the ones that got written down. These other stories come from a tradition of oral storytelling. Actually, I'm pretty sure the Grimm tales started out that way, too, and the Perrault ones (which came first). It really probably is just a matter of when they got written down.

Anyway. I think it's fun to find similarities in stories, and think about where they might have really originated. For example, we read one African tale where they built a tower to get to the moon, which sounded a lot like the Tower of Babel, and (while we didn't read that tale yet) the Far North book has a story about Noah.

Oh, and we read a story that involved puffins and people imitating puffin calls, and we thought, "This story might have a little more depth to it if we knew what puffins really sounded like!" So we got out our Birdsong Bible and turned to the puffins! And the sound it made didn't sound like the sound the guys were making in the story... Either the author of the Far North tales book just had a different idea of how to romanize puffin calls than the authors of the Birdsong Bible, or puffins have multiple calls, and the one in our Birdsong Bible was not the matching one.

Today I'm thankful for learning some great new stories, getting to watch The Princess Diaries, remembering that there are movies out there that point out that being a princess is a real job, getting to listen to our Kingdom Hearts Piano Collections CD, and ordering Tiger & Bunny the Live in time to get it shipped to us on the release date.
Tags: fairy tales
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