Monday, October 30, 2017

Golden phoenix, golden knight (Following folktales around the world 49. - Canada)

Today I continue the blog series titled Following folktales around the world! If you would like to know what the series is all about, you can find the introduction post here. You can find all posts under the Following Folktales label, or you can follow the series on Facebook!

I'd like to note once again that I'll be reading more indigenous folktales in a separate challenge.

The Golden Phoenix
And other French-Canadian fairy tales
Marius Barbeau, Michael Hornyansky
Scholastic Book Services, 1968.

The book containts eight re-told French-Canadian fairy tales from the collections of Marius Barbeau. The stories were all gathered from the oral tradition along the St. Lawrence River, and they all have European origins (even though the Princess of Tomboso, for example, was first collected from the Ojibwe, who probably heard it from traders). Some of the tales resembled the 18th century French literary fairy tales in their imagery and storytelling.


I got this book because it contains one of my favorite fairy tales, the Princess of Tomboso. This tale type (known as Fortunatus) has many variants all over Europe (I even included one in my own book), but for some reason this French-Canadian one is by far my favorite. I especially like that in the end the sneaky princess does not end up marrying the hero that outwits her.
My other favorite from the volume is the tale of the Golden Phoenix, which is a composite of elements from several tale types - it begins with stolen apples (even though the youngest prince has the genius idea of harvesting them before the thief even gets there), then moves on to an underworld journey (during which the prince fights a unicorn, a lion, and a snake), and then goes into a classic hide-and-seek story where a shapeshifting Sultan needs to be found three times, and ends with a Magic Flight. I have never seen these scenes in quite this combination, they fit splendidly together.
Another fun one was the tale of the Sly Thief of Valenciennes, who regularly outwitted a king and avoided being captured... until the king's daughter captured him.


It was interesting to see one long fairy tale split into two sections in the book: Scurvyhead told of a boy's escape from an evil witch's house, while Sir Goldenhair recounted the rest of his adventures, until he got married to a princess. The two together follow the plotline of the Golden-haired Gardener tale type (and both the love of the boy and the princess, and his friendship to his magic horse, were beautifully elaborated). Also a common tale type is the Foundain of Youth, but the French-Canadian variant was a lot kinder to the princess (who, for once, did not get raped in her sleep), and the evil brothers as well.

Where to next?
Reaching Europe at Iceland!

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