Thursday, 11 October 2007


Sun, Moon, and Talia (1638)

Taken from Nogginworks

Haven't posted much this week. Had I have posted it would have gone something like this...

Knackered. Been planning and teaching and taking Ibuprofen for my costachondritis which still hurts loads.

Although I did have a riding lesson on Monday which was - as ever - great. I rode a horse called Pete who makes me feel like I'm learning to ride all over again because he's so big and has huge movement, so that trying to sit to his trot feels like trying to sit on a pneumatic drill... or something. Hmmm. Also, when he spooks, instead of cat leaping to the side - up and away - he does this kind of cowering thing, so that all of a sudden, you find your arse 6 inches above the saddle. I thought he was falling over because I couldn't see his legs. Strange wee boy!

Today I've been teaching the teachers (which is really quite enjoyable I must say), and we've been looking at Fairy Tales - the history of them, how they've developed and morphed and all that. I find it fascinating that fairy tales were quite gory and sexually explicit, and took great pleasure in reading them Giambattista Basiles's Sun, Moon, and Talia from his collection Il Pentamerone which you can read at Sur la Lune. It's the original 'Sleeping Beauty' (if indeed 'the original' anything exists!). The King has a daughter, and the soothsayers give the bad news about the spinning wheel, and of course she grows up and pricks her finger, and dies... but from there, it all gets a bit, erm, well, heavy. The daughter is laid out in a castle (okay), and the handsome prince comes riding by... except he's a King AND he's married! And she is unconscious. And he climbs through the window and... in the words of Giambattista, "...the King saw her, he
called to her, thinking that she was asleep, but in vain, for she still slept on, however loud he called. So, after admiring her beauty awhile, the King returned home to his kingdom, where for a long time he forgot all that had happened."

But I remembered a version far more explicit. I thought these students are going to think I'm a right pervert here because I've told them that he saw her, fancied a bit of that, and helped himself. I read on...

"Meanwhile, two little twins, one a boy and the other a girl, who looked like two little jewels, wandered, from I know not where, into the palace and found Talia in a trance. At first they were afraid because they tried in vain to awaken her; but, becoming bolder, the girl gently took Talia's finger into her mouth, to bite it and wake her up by this means; and so it happened that the splinter of flax came out. Thereupon she seemed to awake as from a deep sleep; and when she saw those little jewels at her side, she took them to her heart, and loved them more than her life; but she wondered greatly at seeing herself quite alone in the palace with two children, and food and refreshment brought her by unseen hands." (sur la lune)

I thought, that is soooo not what happened! "Wandered in from I know not where"?!!! So I did a quick search online and I found it... the unsanitised version. The whole thing is here but basically... the bit we're interested in reads:

The King has found poor Talia and "He called to her, but she would not wake. As he looked at her, and tried to wake her, she seemed so incredibly lovely to him that he could not help desiring her, and he began to grow hot with lust. He gathered her in his arms and carried her to a bed, where he made love to her. Leaving her on the bed, he left the palace and returned to his own city, where pressing business for a long time made him think no more about the incident."

Aha! The beast! Wonder what Disney would make of this? It continues:

"But Talia, who was not dead, but merely unconscious, had become pregnant, and after nine months she gave birth to twins, as beautiful a boy and girl as ever were born. Kindly fairies attended the birth, and put the babies to suck at their mother’s breast. One day, one of the infants, not being able to find the nipple, began to suck at his mother’s finger. He sucked with such force that he drew out the splinter of flax, and Talia awoke, just as if from a long sleep. When she saw the babies, she did not know what had happened or how they had come to her, but she embraced them with love, and nursed them until they were satisfied. She named the infants Sun and Moon. The kindly fairies continued to attend her, providing her with food and drink, which appeared as if delivered by unseen servants."

Bit of a change from, "And the prince kissed her and she woke up, and they lived happily ever after" isn't it?!!! It gets even worse when the King's wife finds out about his affair with the unconscious woman in the woods, mother of his children, but you can follow the links to read it if you want to!

So. Fairy Tales. Gore. Sex. Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber doesn't seem half as shocking now does it?! Although her take on Red Riding Hood, when the wolf and Red get jiggy with it, might still turn a hair or two!

So that's me. Fairy tales. And after that Little Women and Anne of Green Gables at such a cracking pace it's making my head spin. God knows how the students are coping!

And er... my novel. yes, well. The old PhD. Los estudios mios. It cries to me in the night, my poor novel. It speaks to me in my dreams, (in Spanish cos it's dead clever like that), and it says, "Please write me. I need to be written!" Escribeme, por favor. Necesito ser escrito! Before I forget all that needs to be said, before I lose all these wonderful ideas... and er... have to go back on another research trip.

Oh! Now there's an idea!

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