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Fairy Map of Succession


Parental Injunctions


Lake of

Fabulando Storytelling

Sixty-seven Fairy Tales

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 Italian language 1. Fairy Map of Succession
Fairy Map of the Succession

Die Ablösung des heranwachsenden Individuums von der Autorität der Eltern ist eine der notwendigsten, aber auch schmerzlichsten Leistungen der Entwicklung. Es ist durchaus notwendig, daß sie sich vollziehe, und man darf annehmen, jeder normal gewordene Mensch habe sie in einem gewissen Maß zustande gebracht. Ja, der Fortschritt der Gesellschaft beruht überhaupt auf dieser Gegensätzlichkeit der beiden Generationen. (S. Freud, Der Familienroman der Neurotiker) The liberation of an individual, as he grows up, from the authority of his parents is one of the most necessary though one of the most painful results brought about by the course of his development. It is quite essential that that liberation should occur and it may be presumed that it has been to some extent achieved by everyone who has reached a normal state. Indeed, the whole progress of society rests upon the opposition between successive generations. (Sigmund Freud, Family Romances)


For, as the leaves, such is the race of man.
The wind shakes down the leaves, the budding grove
Soon teems with others, and in spring they grow.
So pass mankind. One generation meets
Its destined period, and a new succeeds.
(Homer, Iliad, VI, vv. 146-149)

[T]hough they both [Cervantes and Shakespeare] use tropes that originate in folk tale, myth and fable, they refuse to moralise, and in this above all else they are more modern than many who followed them. They do not tell us what to think or feel, but they show us how to do so. (Salman Rushdie, Languages of Truth)

When the mirror told her that Snow-White was more beautiful than her, the queen mother ...became pale with envy, and from that hour on, she hated Snow-White. She could then only think about killing her, about getting back her supremacy, but in the end she had to die, while dancing at the wedding of Snow-White and her prince.
When in the woodcutter’s house there was nothing but a breadcrust, the mother convinced her husband to abandon their children in the woods. But the wild animals did not devour Hänsel and Gretel, who defeated the voracious witch. They happily went home ...however, the mother had died  (...die Mutter aber war gestorben).
In every fairy-tale there is a conflict between old and new generations, and in the fairy tales filicide is the crime par excellence. It is often attempted, but never realized. 
Parental characters or actants are biological or adoptive parents, rich or poor, but also witches or fairies, ogres or magicians, merchants, kings or queens. Filial characters or actants are children subjected to their parents' will, and the tale is the vicissitude of their redemption. Going away is not enough: the main actants have to accomplish their imposed task, which is usually impossible; and their escape from a parental prison is full of risks, often mortal.

We call injunction the constraint imposed by parental actants on their children, who must act in order to survive and live on. If the tale goes on towards a happy ending, the main actants get their autonomy and a fecund love. The happy ending realizes everybody's aim: to ascend to the throne means getting rid of the parent's power. Becoming a free subject and marrying happily, means to meet a lover who is unrelated to one's own origin. This union is also fruitful.  
The drama of succession is intertwined in everyday life. We speak of generational conflicts and we forget that births and deaths occur seamlessly, making it impossible to distinguish between generations. This myth has its truth in the conflict between parents and children that exists from the Greek tragedy to our days, and it is not fading.
The last kind of myth pertaining to this conflict tells of how the old generations wasted the Earth's resources, making life difficult for the young generations. They acted like Hänsel and Gretel’s parents. Let us hope that the new generation can find a good solution.

Between tragedy and everyday life, the fairy-tales offer a free area, where all can enter without any licence; be they scholars or illiterates, Eastern or Western people, citizens of the south and of the north of the world, children, grown-ups and old people. All of them have the same competence and the same right to listen to and tell a fairy-tale. Fairy-tales present an extreme risk: succumbing before growing up. But they also represent a chance to escape a mortal danger and reach a happy ending. This happy ending is not realistic, it is simply true.  Let us think, for example, of the relief - at least of the spontaeous smile - that Snow-White gives us when she opens her eyes and sees - together with us - her enamoured prince and the happy seven dwarves. We can also imagine Cinderella finally dancing with her Prince Charming, while the stepsisters and all the guests move to the background to give them room in the palace.

If the shapes of the generational conflict are countless, why does Fabulando give ten of them? Our wish is not to build up any kind of catalogue, or to fix a new kind of classification. We only arranged ten moulds, to place the Sixty-seven fairy tales of our collection. We are simply offering a map, The Fairy Map of Succession.
It is only a fantasy map, a kind of topographic map. Its graphic elements come from a sixteenth-century geographic Map of Corsica, and its layout draws from two other maps. The first suggestion comes from the seventeenth-century French Carte de Tendre, that gives a topographic and allegorical representation of the different stages of the life of lovers. The second suggestion comes from the Carte du sens (Map of Sense), drawn by the mathematician René Thom in 1991. Here we do not want to explain or settle anything, we are simply drawing a map which allows us to move across the wide and complex world of fairy tales, which is difficult to explore. Fairy-tales can form a set which is homologous to human experience taken as a set. They developed through the unceasing exchange between peoples, writers and oral storytellers. Their narrative structure is one of the most powerful ones among the different kind of stories; it often spills into other genres, camouflaging itself without any effort. It is impossible to fix it, but we can offer a device to sail through it: a map. Whoever wishes to travel with us across the immense and boundless land of fairy-tales, may start with the Fairy Map of Succession.
When we look at the map of a city, our attention goes to a detail, a place that we already visited or heard of, or a place that we simply desire to know. In the map of a country our attention may focus on an image, or a name, and this may happen with our Fairy Map. Click after click, touch after touch, we can travel as we like, for some minutes or for a long time. Wherever we may find ourselves - reading an e-book, looking at a map of a fairy tale, of a quadrant or of an injunction, we can go back to the Fairy Map of Succession, which is the starting-point, or to this page, Fairinfo.

Let us now look together at the Fairy Map of Succession. 

Map of Succession

In the lower part, we see the sea that represents the maternal side, because the south includes half of the fairy tales of the map which feature an injunction coming from the maternal actant. The north half of the map, with the mountains that represent the side of the father, includes fairy tales which start with a paternal injunction. If the main actant is a female, the tales are in the west side of the map, whilst the fairy tales are in the east side if their main actant is a male. The symbol of the female filial actant is the moon; that of the filial male actant is the sun.
We have then four quadrants, delimited by four rivers converging at the centre of the map, into the Lake of Generation. The fecundity that allows the succession of generations requires the encounter and the skin to skin contact both between parents and children and between female and male actants. Life goes on through the succession of the generations.

The Map presents ten symbols of Parental Injunctions, which may be only in one quadrant, in two, in three, or in all quadrants. Under every symbol of the injunctions, there is the title of a fairy tale that is the head of the list for that injunction in that quadrant. With a click or a touch on each symbol or title, we open the Map of the fairy tale.

Let us now look at a Map of the fairy tale. If for example, on the Fairy Map of Succession, we choose with a click or a touch in the southeast quadrant the Peak of the Impossible Task - Frog, Frog - we open the following Map of the tale. At the center of this map there is an image of the fairy tale.


By clicking or touching this image, we get the e-book of the tale.
In every Map of the Fairy Tale there is a little brown fairy linking to the Fairinfo section related to that tale or issue. Fairinfo gives information concerning the structure of Fabulando - like this one - and notes about every fairy tale.
By clicking or touching the upper left section, we get the Map of the Injunction of this fairy tale (the Peak of the Impossible Task). From this Map of the Injunction we can get the maps of all the fairy tales collected under this injunction.

Under the section of the injunction, we see the Northeast Quadrant, to which our fairy tale Frog, Frog belongs. By clicking or touching this image, we get the Map of the Quadrant. From this map we can get the maps of all the fairy tales belonging to the northeast quadrant.

The lower left section leads to the Fabulando Fairy Tours, which are itineraries we offer to visit the fairy tales of  Fabulando.
Looking at the same map, we can see two captions that are available in every map of Fabulando; one of them links to the Fairy Map of Succession, the second to the page of the Authors.

Every tale is told with an e-book, and some tales are told also through other digital media: e-kamishibai - a digital version of the Japanese paper theater or kamishibai - movie and history of the fairy tale.

                            The Frog Prince

The map of The Frog Prince, for example, includes all the kinds of storytelling included in Fabulando. We can get them clicking or touching the relevant captions. (AG & CC)

Italian language2. Actants

is the technical term used in the field of storytelling studies to define a character who acts in a fairy tale.
With an eye to our theoretical starting points, i.e. Russian Formalism, in particular Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale (1928), and French Structuralism, we define only four types of actants.
The key to understanding the arrangement of the Sixty-seven tales of our collection in the fairy map lies in the idea of succession. Each and every fairy tale tells of how a young descendant can become an adult. Being an adult means becoming autonomous and generative, able to untie one's parental bond, typical of childhood, and open oneself up to bonding with the other. From this perspective, we see our four types of actants, female and male filial actants and female and male parental actants.

The fairy tale always tells the story of a filial actant, because it tells how it is possible to grow up. Growth is not limited to childhood and adolescence, as it is always possible; whenever we learn something we feel more adult, regardless of our age.  The main actant is a young one, playing a filial role with the old or young actants that he/she meets during his/her journey. This is an experience of human growth. The reader and the listener may be seven or seventy years old, but they will regardless all identify with the young.
At the beginning of the tale, the main filial actants interacts with parental actants. They may be their parents, or characters that play a parental role because they are old or powerful, like fairies, ogres, witches, magicians, beggars etc. Each kind of relation between the filial main actant and the parental actant gives origin to a particular kind of tale. See in this Fairinfo the Injunction, to read something more about this subject.

We would now like to point out the difference between fairy tales with a female main actant and fairy tales with a male main actant, examining two tales starting with the same injunction, acted by the same parental actant, Sleeping Beauty in the Wood and Pig King. These tales begin with the injunction Sailing Ship of the Black Curse, and the curse comes from a female parental actant. The female main actant of the first tale is the world-famous princess who falls into a death-like sleep, the male main actant of the second tale is a prince that is a pig from birth. The events of these tales are quite different, as are the paths of these main actants. The first difference lies in the effect produced on the protagonists by the maternal actant.

Changing injunction and parental actant, we now examine two fairy tales belonging to The Fortress of Solitude: Sweet Diamond Pie and The Raven. Betta, female main actant of the first tale, and Milluccio, male main actant of the second one, do not want to marry anybody. Betta decides to make herself a man with sugar, almonds and rosewater, while Milluccio falls in love with an ideal woman that cannot be found. The beautiful husband of Betta soon leaves her for a foreign queen, and the tale tells of Betta's long journey to find him. In the tale The Raven, the younger brother of King Milluccio leaves to find his brother's ideal bride, and finds her at the mid-point of the tale. These two actants have to face many hard trials to get their happy ending.
In the Fairy Map of Succession we see the tales with female main actants on the western half, while on the eastern half we find the tales with male main actants.
Some stories represent an exception, e.g. Hänsel and Gretel and The Green Beaubird. These stories start with Gibbet of the Death Sentence, which is a dreadful injunction, particularly dangerous here because female and male parental actants deliver a death sentence. The young male and female actants must therefore act to escape death. Hänsel and Gretel wind up together in the clutches of the witch and they defeat her together. In The Green Beaubird three twins, two boys and one girl, are abandoned together and together they travel and gain the magical objects they need to get the happy ending for themselves and their royal parents. (CC)

Italian language 3. Parental Injunctions

Forest of the Exile
Mash of the
Peak of the Impossible Task
Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment
Fork of the Possible Task Forest of the Exile
Marsh of the Dereliction

Tower of the
                          Segregation Sailing Ship of the
                          Curse Gibbet of the Death
                          Warrant Fortress of the
                          Solitude Castle of the Forced Love
Tower of the Segregation
Sailing Ship of the Black Curse
Gibbet of the Death Sentence
Fortress of Solitude
Castle of the Forced Love

Italian languageIntroduction

An injunction is a final order, a hindrance that someone, who has the power to do it, imposes on another, who cannot escape. We defined “parental” the injunctions of the fairy tales given in Fabulando, to say that the parental actants impose them on the filial actants, as a task, an exile, or a sentence. The injunction begins the fairy tale and entails a reaction of the main actants, who have to move themselves. So, they begin their journey, which is often lengthy and sprinkled with mortal dangers, towards the happy ending.
When her step-mother orders beautiful Caterina (The Mammone Cat) to go and see the dangerous fairies and ask them a sieve, she imposes on her an Impossible Task, namely to survive the encounter with magic powerful figures. Then the girl must go, and facing the danger her own nature emerges. This gives her the chance to grow up.
When his father turns Nardiello out of the house (The Cockroach, the Mouse and the Cricket), he imposes on and exiles him. The main actant has to live a destitute life, far from family protection. Nonetheless, travelling alone with his little magic animals, he can meet the princess Milla, care her from melancholy and marry her.
The injunctions of Fabulando that distinguish fairy tales are ten, and they are represented by a symbol. They all find their own place in the Fairy Map of Succession. Four of them figure in all quadrants: the Forest of the Exile, the Marsh of the Dereliction, the Peak of the Impossible Task and the Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment. One of them figure in three quadrants: the Fork of the Possible Task. Three injunctions are in two quadrants: the Fortress of Solitude, the Sailing Ship of the Black Curse, and the Gibbet of the Death Sentence. Two of them eventually figure only in one quadrant: the Tower of the Segregation and the Castle of the Forced Love.
Each injunction includes more fairy tales. To the north of the Fairy Map of Succession we positioned the injunctions imposed by the father figure, to the south those imposed by the mother figure. Below each symbol there are two captions, the first gives the name of the injunction, the second gives the title of the fairy tale that we chose to represent that injunction in that quadrant.
By a click or a touch on the symbol, you open the map of that fairy tale, and then you can focus on that tale or go on exploring the fairy tales starting with that injunction, by a click or a touch on its own symbol, which is in the lower left of each Map of the Fairy Tale. The Maps of the Injunctions include in their turn the division in quadrants of their own fairy tales, so that you can see at a glance the distribution of the fairy tales of the Gibbet of the Death Sentence, of the Forest of the Exile, of the Sailing Ship of the Black Curse, etc.

Crossing injunctions and quadrants you get a tool to travel in Fabulando without getting lost: everywhere you can know where you are according to the main map, the Fairy Map of Succession. Moreover, you always get clear symbols recalling the meanings of the path you are following. If you choose the path of a single injunction, you can explore its feminine and masculine articulation; if you try the area of a quadrant, walking through its different injunctions, you can see how many questions come from a female or male main actant, facing a male or female parental actant. 

As well as everyday life, fairy-tale world gives countless ties and connections, and the risk to get lost in stories is very high, leading to the painful feeling of going around without any sense. Facing the injunction of our Impossible Commitment to give life to Fabulando, we tried to enable you to walk along fairy tale’s sensible paths getting your position wherever you find yourself, just following your love for fairy tales. We welcome you, be your level of knowledge of this subject high or low.

If then you happen to get lost, there is no harm: wherever you are, look at the icon of the Fairy Map of Succession, click or touch it to get back the starting point and try a new way. (CC)

Italian languagePeak of the Impossible Task
Map of the Injunction

This injunction is in four quadrants, since the parental male actant may impose an impossible task both to a male and a female descendant, as may also the maternal figure. When a fairy tale begins with the Peak of the Impossible Task, the main actants head for their imposed goal. The story tells of how they are able to accomplish the feat, even if it is impossible, because they cannot give it up. The main actants always complete their task, and then they live happily forever after, nearly always marrying a regal partner and ascending to the throne.  While the Fork of the Possible Task leads the main actant to failure, even to death, the Peak of the Impossible Task leads to a happy succession. If life were a task, it would surely be an impossible task. The main actants, who take responsibility for the task imposed by parental actants, address risks, overcome obstacles and fulfill their task. These actants always have their happy ending, like the actants of the fairy tales that begin with the injunction of the Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment, wich differs from the fairy tales of the Peak in undertaking their task, because there is no parental actant imposing anything on them.

The fairy tale Mammone Cat tells of a stepmother who sends the beautiful Caterina to the fairies hoping that they will make her ugly. Caterina, weeping, sets out alone, and along the way she meets an old ragamuffin. She tells him her story and listens to him, who teaches her how to behave with the fairies. These are not the kind of instructions given by the parental actant in the tales of the Fork of the Possible Task. They make possible a kind of initiation, leaving Caterina free to act on them.

In Solver of Riddles, Solve this Riddle, a marquis promises to grant freedom to a prisoner if someone will ask him a riddle that he cannot solve. The main female actant wins the test and her father is pardoned. The enigma concerns the  ambiguity of language, its polysemy. This marquis, like Turandot, understands that there are riddles that he cannot solve, while he had previously been sure of being able to master them without any limit.

Three princes are tasked by their father king with finding the water that can cure his blindness (The Marmotta Queen). In another fairy tale a king gives his three princes the task of finding a wife by rolling three golden balls (Frog, Frog). In the first tale, the elder brothers interrupt their journey without finding the magic water for their father, while Andreino, the youngest prince, fulfills his task. The slander of his envious brothers endangers his life, but they cannot overcome him in the end. In Frog, Frog, the elder brothers get two beautiful girls, but Nicolino, the youngest one, finds only a frog in the ditch where his golden ball fell. Without doubting his task, he is sad but ready to marry a frog, when the animal turns herself into a princess. The youngest brother fulfils his impossible task and finally ascends to the throne together with his beautiful wife.

The Dying Fairy's Will gives us the chance to see that two fairy tales beginning with different injunctions can have the same plot. In this tale, starting with the Peak of the Impossible Task, a son promises his dying fairy mother to give his three sisters in marriage to the first three passers-by. He grudgingly executes her will, then an old hag bewitches him, so that he must find Bella Margarita. In the tale Three Animal Kings, beginning with the injunction of the Labyrint of the Impossible Commitment, the prince chooses to leave to find his sister, who had been abducted by three animal kings, while his parents try to hold him back. Well, his journey is nearly the same as that of the main actant of the other tale, and leads all the young actants to the same happy ending. The three bewitched husbands of the main actant’s sisters turn back into handsome kings and the main male actant overcomes the ogre who had imprisoned Bella Margarita and marries her. Four young couples come back to their four kingdoms, where their parents were mourning the loss of their heirs, so that the young princes and princesses ascend to their respective thrones and live happily ever after. (AG)

Italian languageLabyrinth of the Impossible Commitment
Map of the Injunction

The injunction Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment may give rise to fairy tales with motifs corresponding to the tales whose injunction is the Peak of the Impossible Task. In Fabulando’s collection, we see this by comparing The Three Animal Kings, belonging to this injunction, to The Dying Fairy's Will, which starts with the injunction of the Peak of the Impossible Task. In these two tales, three sisters go faraway with their animal husbands, who are bewitched kings, and their brother looks for them. He sets out on a long journey, at the end of which he finds his sisters, a beautiful wife for himself and the salvation for his brothers-in-law, who can turn back into human kings. The main actant of The Three Animal Kings takes up by himself the commitment to set off and find his three sisters, while the main actant of The Dying Fairy's Will carries out the last will of his mother. Then an old witch curses him so that he has to begin his journey.
Both these injunctions entail an impossible task, and all the fairy tales with this beginning have a happy ending. We could say that living is an impossible task, as are educating, governing, and psychoanalysis. Leaving out the latter, which is our job, the former two are impossible tasks that cannot however be renounced, regardless of whether they are undertaken voluntarily or not. Without them no human community or single subject exist. If we think of the impossible task or commitment like achieving the fertility required by the succession of the generations, we see that the subjects - fairy-tale actants - must leave their house, ready to face any risk and obstacle to reach their goal. Whoever avoids this task or commitment, constrains his/her life, following the illusion of mastering the processes of ageing and dying, and turns down the chance to give life to something new.
The three sisters of the main male actant of The Three Animal Kings live in a separate world. Their only brother recovers them and their three cursed animal kings, together with a princess who is held prisoner by a dragon. Once they are free, they can all return to their respective realms. The happy ending here means that succession can flow again in four realms that had been left without their heirs.

In the fairy tale The Seven Little Pigeons, there is the same separation between male and female descendants, but here it is a daughter who sets off to look for her seven lost brothers, and goes on a wonderful but hard journey. After many vicissitudes, the sister comes back home together with her brothers, and they bring home riches just as like Hänsel e Gretel did.

The main actants of Violet and The Golden Eagle do not follow any injunction but their desire, and they act with the determination of any actant who chooses an impossible commitment. Violet fills the gap between herself and the king’s son, who had tried to capture her. Arrighetto, main actant of The Golden Eagle, son of the emperor of the Magna (Germany), falls in love with the daughter of his father' main enemy, the King of Raona (Aragon). After a realistic European war between the two enemies and all their allies, peace finally comes, and the kings bless the union of their male and female descendants.

The folktale Smithy Menico begins with the impossible wish par excellence, which a poor but cunning smith can express and fulfil thanks to three magic gifts. The donor here is Jesus, with St. Peter as his assistant, who grants Smithy Menico three wishes. The main actant does not ask for wealth or other goods, but for something that will give him the power to cheat Death and the Devil.
In the Greek myth, the cunning god Prometheus takes humanity beyond its limits by stealing a spark from the gods, to endow men with fire. Smithy Menico is a smith, a little human heir of the Smith-God Hephaestus, who forged weapons and jewels, and he reminds us of the Latin saying unusquisque faber fortunae suae est (each man forges his own fortune). Smithy Menico cheats Death and the Devil thanks to his cunning and his three supernatural magic gifts. Finally he furtively gets a little place in Paradise, where he might even be able to force all the Blessed to dance by his magic violin. (AG)

Italian languageFork of the Possible Task
Map of the Injunction

This injunction include three fairy tales of our collection, Dauntless Little John, Thus Ended the Idiot and Red Riding Hood. The third tale is better known in a version that ends happily, while ours, by Perrault, is the first version ever published, which ends with the wolf successfully devouring the main actant and her granny.
The task of Little John looks easy, because the main actant is dauntless and looks able to overcome every hurdle; his life looks easy because nobody engages him with a task. Red Riding Hood and the Idiot have an ordinary simple task to complete; the girl has to visit her grandmother and bring her something to eat, the poor  Idiot has to go to the miller with some wheat and come back with the flour. These are possible task, if we liken it to other fairy tale's tasks; let us remember, for example, Snow White, who has to survive to her killer mother. We could think also of the main actant in the tale The Seven Little Pigeons, who has to reach the House of Time, becouse only Time knows the secret to turn back her seven pigeon brothers into human beings.
It is a paradox that the possible tasks drive the main actants to death, while the impossible tasks drive them to the happy ending. Looking at this injunction, we think of a parent's current bent. Parents and teachers often try to hide away death, pain and serious illness, as if they could protect children from the hard reality. They do not protect children, but their own narcissism, which refuses this tragic experience. Children know very soon the existence of death, illness and pain, if they cannot speak about it with their parents, they are going to think that their knowledge is illicit, as if they were heretics in their church-family. Children can othewise think that their parents are so afraid that it is better not to speak with them about these tragic issues. Children will however be lonely in their experience of the tragic side of life, while it is necessary to understand it and know its risks. An elaboration is needed, and it is possible only if these issues take place in the field of education, by a speech or a fairy tale that can tie them with others issues.

A fork represents the injunction of the Possible Task, because the main actants here think to have an easy and right way to complete their task as if they should not think by themselves. They never complete the task, because the only way to try a free path is missing the task assigned by their parents. If the parents think to be able to protect their children forever, they give them only the chance to break their law or to miss their task. When children grow up, they need to understand their own desire; if they have no desire but their parent's one, they cannot choose their own path. Moreover, they do not know the risk and they do not learn how to deal with it. In these fairy tales, this set drives to an unhappy ending.
In the popular version of Red Riding Hood, she and her grandmother live again thanks to the hunter, a paternal actant who has a knife and a gun, able to get food from the wood. This later happy end means the restoration of the initial situation, a kind of second birth realised by the hunter father. (AG)

Italian languageForest of the Exile
Map of the Injunction

In the tale Flower and Flowerstem the stepmother, who has just an ugly daughter, hates her beautiful stepchildren. Fiore is generous with some fairies that endow her with two gifts, when she would speak, flowers will come out of her mouth and when she would comb her hair, golden pearls will drop. Fiore’s magical beauty threatens her ugly sister and her old stepmother, who turns her and her brother out of the house. Their exile puts to an end when the king wants to marry Fiore, but her ugly stepsister takes her place, in a similar way to what happens in The Mammone Cat. Fairy tales usually tell that blossoming life does not stop itself, so that the deceits of the old mother and of the ugly sister are defeated.

The other three fairy tales beginning with this injunction have male main actants and a happy ending, as well as Flower and Flowerstem. The maternal actant exiles the female main actant because of her beauty, as well as maternal actants sentence Snow White to death and segregate Cinderella. Parental actants force the male main actants of our three tales of the Forest of the Exile because of their ineptitude. His father chases away and delegitimizes little John because he is looking for fear and the goose bump instead of learning a trade (Little John and the Shudder). The Cockroach, the Mouse and the Cricket tells how the father of Nardiello tries to teach him to become a merchant, but Nardiello wastes huge amounts of money so that he has finally to run away to escape his father beating him to death. The mother and the sisters of Dumbtony, in The Tale of the Ogre, are very poor, while he is a stupid layabout; when his exasperated mother beats him to death, he runs away. Dumbtony does not understand ambiguity in language, as well as the main character in Così finì il Tonto, nevertheless he may get chance to learn from his experience.

Looking at these three fairy tales of the Forest of the Exile, we can state a kind of rule, each time parents throw out their son, this youth can find his way to grow up and get a happy ending. Another kind of rule says that if the main male actant in a fairy tale is unable to provide for himself and damages his family, he must move away from his origin to grow up and survive, and even get a happy ending. The ineptitude of the main male actant means a failure of his education, however the tale does not tell anything about this failure's reasons. It only tells that the parents acknowledge it and stop looking for a remedy, allowing their son to leave or forcing him to go through the world, so that he may learn from his experience what he could not learn from them. The bond between parents and sons - or daughters - is so strong that without continuance solutions they become so hardly attached to each other that they risk to falling into a tragic area. The death of the main actants in the fairy tales beginning with the injunction Fork of the Possible Task represents this tragic area.

Anothe kind of tale, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, tells of the youngest son who had claimed his share to leave his father's house (Luca, 15, 11-32). His father divided his property between his children and let him go, without both asking him for any explanation and giving him any advice. The minor son squandered his riches and became a servant who suffered even hunger. Then he decided to go back to his father to ask him to welcome him as one of his servants, but his father, as soon as he saw him, took him into his arms and had a celebration for him. Even on this occasion, the father did not ask him or tell any explanation.

Educating is one of the three task that Freud defined impossible; nevertheless, it is impossible to stop doing it. The father of the parable, even quite different from the parents of the three male actants of the Forest of the Exile, behaves as a parent who knows that becoming adult entails a tremendous freedom that no educator can master. If parents take too much care of their ideal image, their narcissism prevents them from accepting their own limits. If they can bear the narcissistic wound that every son or daughter can inflict on their parents, they get the chance to grow together with their descendents. Thinking again of the parable we quoted, if the father is God, it tells that not even the Creator can save a man against his will. To try to do better than Father God is a dangerous madness, often masqued by unlimited love, both by believers and non-believers. (AG)

Italian languageMarsh of the Dereliction
Map of the Injunction

Let us introduce this injunction recalling a feeling that we all know, in a sad day and in a period our life, when nothing in our past looks fruitful, and all our resources seem unuseful for the future. Nobody really loved us, and our love, if we ever loved something or somebody, gave nothing anybody. The Marsh of the Dereliction reminds to this perception of ours, and fairy tales display it, telling of main actants who are so poor that their same survival is uncertain. Like contemporary underprivileged or illegal immigrants, these actants miss their parents and they may even be lost in a forest (The Lost Doll). Among the main actants of this section, just Madmatt has a mother, but he is ugly, foolish, and quite unable to earn his living.

As soon as the dereliction is told, these stories tell that into this stage there is however something that looks unuseful, like a cat, a doll or a speaking fish. But it can help the derelict actants to leave their mash and find a way to become even a king or a queen. The perception of our dereliction is common, but the way that these actants choose to follow their wish for a doll, or to listen to a cat or a fish, is not easy. To get their beloved doll, the main female actants of The Lost Doll and Pooavola Doll give up everything, and faithfully following their desire, they make possible their story and their happy ending. Madmatt and the future Marquis de Carabas (Puss in Boots and Master Cat or Puss in Boots) are hungry, and they would fill them up with their inherited cat or the fish they finally caught. Nevertheless, they listen to them, even if it looks impossible that those animals could change their fate. Hope and desire go together, as well as despair and lack of desire; and these stories tell how the first pair can work. Nevertheless, it is almost impossible to give up the satisfaction of an urgent need of ours, which commands us by the tyranny of our symptoms, because following our desire means being ready to risk everything. The feeling of our terrible dereliction can stop our desire even from whispering something, because the dereliction is quite certain, while desire is lacking of any guarantee.

Let us now remember that fairy tales do not tell that following our desire we leave the mash and become queens and kings; they just tell that following it, listening to the faint voice that invites us to do it, is the only way to make it possible. The border between a childish certainty and a grown-up uncertainty presents itself every day, but we seldom acknowledge it. (AG)

Italian languageTower of the Segregation
Map of the Injunction

Walt Disney introduced a tower (of the Segregation) into his version of Cinderella (US 1950), to increase the isolation of its beloved main female actant and the oppressiveness of her stepmother. Another tower, with just a little window, has characterized the tale of Parsley since its first version (Basile, 1634-1636).
The adolescent daughter normally feels herself and her own movements hindered by her mother; then she thinks that her mother is unfair or slow-witted, while during her childhood she loved and admired her. Her wish to go out, possibly without limits, grows together with the prohibitions introduced by her mother, who is now a rival. It depends on the haste of the daughter, who wants to enjoy the advantages that she imagines as a prerogative of the grown-up woman. To feel oneself Cinderella or Parsley is a common experience, not only during our adolescence, and these stories tell about this experience by simple means that should not deceive us. The art of storytelling here veils a rich meaning and a tragic conflict. The girl would to grow up quickly, putting her mother aside. Nevertheless the same girl is afraid of her mother’s retaliation, triggered by her own pretensions. Why her mother, now an old woman, does not give her way?
On the mother’s side, we see that she has to acknowledge that her daughter does not belong to her any more, that she is a woman already able to kindle an erotic desire, though very young and inexperienced. To acknowledge that being a true woman is no more her exclusive privilege, is so difficult for a mother that usually she is unable to do it.
There is the tower where the ogress shuts up Parsley, and the tower where, following Disney, the stepmother confines Cinderella, not to let anybody find her. Nevertheless, no tower or prison can stop this type of stories, that always end with the female main actant rejoicing together with her royal husband. Every fairy tale where a magic actant takes possession of a human girl, ends in the happiest way possible for the main actant. We then suggest to look at the injunction Tower of the Segregation as a constraint entailing the release of the main actant. Growing up entails a constraint that works as an injunction that the subject, the main actant, suffers; then, when she feels that this constraint is impeding her growth, there appears a means through which to be released.

Each injunction we chose to order our fairy tales in the Fairy Map of Succession, may be thought of as a constraint (French: contraint). Fabulando follows a model for growing up that would be impossible without a constraint. The constraint of metrics and a fixed rhyme scheme is the narrow way through which poetry and poems come, as well as the tower's only little window is the passage for Parsley to set off and for her prince to come in. In the last wonderful version of Cinderella directed by Kennet Branagh (US 2015) the song of the prisoner comes out from the highest little window of the tower, and her king does not need to find her any more. (AG)

Italian languageSailing Ship of the Black Curse
Map of the Injunction

In the east and west sea of the Map of Succession, the Sailing Ship of the Black Curse sails, missing from the paternal north quadrants of the map, as well as the Gibbet of the Death Sentence. The maternal quadrants is the sole agent for the most cruel injunctions, as if the mothers would be more dangerous than fathers for their growing children. It seems that fairy tales confirm the millennial tradition that looks at the woman as diaboli janua (devil’s door) and legis prima desertrix (law’s first deserter), from Eve with the snake. The women’s inferiority would depend on their being deriving from the man, while the man derived from God. Nevertheless, it is told that God created the world by his word, but He took something from Mother Earth to create Adam.

This male priority entailed the generative power, because up to the 18th century scientist told that the homuncula lived in the sperm, whose name is in fact semen, while the woman had to nourish and grow the new creature (see also: Storytelling and Science). Nevertheless, the woman can become a superior creature if she lives just for her husband and children; like the Madonna, who has no stain of sin and has never leaded a man into temptation. There are more churches dedicated to the Madonna than to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Let us give a look to the Paleolithic Venus figurines, the first representations of human beings. Their bodies’ parts linked with sex and procreation are emphasized and realistic – breast, womb, buttocks and thighs –, while their face has no features and their forearms are missing, as well as and the lower part of their legs. From these feminine bodies the Paleolithic sculptors removed facial expression - therefore the speech -, feet - the autonomous movement - hands - the independent ability to relate. The woman should then stop and receive, like earth from the sewer. Che la piasa, che la tasa e che la staga in casa (Be she pleasant, be she silent, and stay she at home) still says a saying from the Veneto.

The Sailing Ship of the Black Curse and the Gibbet of the Death Sentence are only on the south quadrants of the map because they concern the feminine as earth. Males can penetrate it and reap its fruits, without knowing its mysterious deepness. The mythic image of women since the Old Stone Age veils and unveils the unknown, and it's right and duty of men to stop and to fear this odd mystery. Therefore, women hold the threatening unknown, darkness and death. So the menstrual blood can be a taboo, and many women are still veiled and segregated.

If women hold the extreme evil, they could consequently act it with dreadful effects. This mythic truth is still told by some ecology movements; Mother Earth will sentence humankind to death, because men outraged and poisoned her with their overbearing civilization. If this story were one of our fairy tales, we would place it in the southeast quadrant, and it should belongs to the injunction of the Sailing Ship of the Black Curse o to the Gibbet of the Death Sentence, together with the story of Avatar (James Cameron, US 2009). Let us now mention something about the ending of this film that has told its story all over the world. Jake Sully, the male main actant, saves himself turning into a Na’vi, a thin blue creature that might be more fine and good than the guilty man. The Earth, which is our only realm, is dying, and on Pandora just two male human beings survive. The chain of human generations stops forever in this almost unhappy dystopian ending.

The archaic feminine of the vindictive Mother Earth is still in force, but it does not belong to the female actants more than to the male ones. In fact, the fairy-tale curse and the warrant coming from the parental female actant hit both sons and daughters. The actants undergo these injunctions to free themselves from the power of this archaic mother and reach the field of speech. This difficult movement is a precondition to grow up. We then think of the Sailing Ship of the Black Curse and the Gibbet of the Death Sentence, as to paradoxical expressions, telling by hints something whose features are inexpressible. It has no words or expressions, like the Paleolithic Venus figurines, and the stories telling the drama of a subject who is imprisoned in this field are easily misunderstood. We should remember that they stage by words something escaping from the speech, like a psychosomatic illness. Many years after her delivery, it happensa that a mother has not have completely delivered her child, as if she would still keep parts of her children’s body - and mind. These female and male young actants - these sons and daughters - cannot really grow, since a part of them is still in her dumb womb.The stories beginning with the Sailing Ship of the Black Curse tell something about this condition.

The queen of Pig King becomes pregnant thanks to three fairies, which make her beautiful and inviolable, but they decide that this perfect queen will give birth to a pig baby. Life can flow even through her magic pregnancy and her acceptance of her animal baby. The Pig King turns into a handsome human youth thank to a wife who tenderly loves him as a pig too. Nevertheless, he forbids her to tell his parents that he is a man by night. His metamorphosis becomes irreversible after the birth of a human baby, when finally his royal parents learn of the human nature of their son. So, life flows again in the realm, now free from the strictness of the ideal.

In Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, the curse comes from an old fairy, who takes her revenge because the father king had forgot her. She has the same power of Athropos, the Greek Moira who cut the thread of the human life; nevertheless in the fairy tale it is always possible to mitigate such a sentence. The newborn princess will not die, but sleep for a century, together with all the dwellers of the castle. In the Greek mythology a human being betraying an oath was condemned to death. And if a god or a goddess did the same, they had to spend a long time sleeping like Beauty in the wood. Zeus appointed for Styx, goddess of the underground freezing river, the great oath of the gods. We remember this ancient myth because it brings us back to our fairy tales, since Styx means shudder, the unheimliche feeling that Dauntless Little John ignored, while another Little John missed and looked for it (Little John and the Shudder).

Another fairy tale in this section is a gorgeous Sicilian story, Misfortune. The curse of the female main actant depends on the nature of her Fate, a popular sister of the mythic Moirai or Norns, Latin Parcae. Her mother queen asks her daughter Misfortune to set off, in order to take her curse away from their house. European fairy tales have many precedents in the ancient literature, and they probably have had a long oral transmission, but their certain birth occurred in the 16th century, when Giovan Francesco Straparola published some fairy tales among the novellas of his collection, The Facetious Nights. The modernity of fairy tales entails actants that represent modern subjects, individually acting, able to become free from parental authorities, to face their injunctions and follow the law of their desire to get their own aims. This Sicilian fairy tale gives us one of the best images of this chance, when Sfurtuna meets Gna Francisca (gna means signora, madam), who is the washerwoman of the king. Since when she had left her house, Sfurtuna was followed and damaged by her Fate, which leaves her now in peace, to wash, dry, mend, iron and starch the king’s clothes together with Gnà Francisca. The king is very pleased and gives more money to his washerwoman, who buys garments and rouges for Sfurtuna and her Fate, and ingredients to prepare some cakes. Then she sends Fortuna to offer these cakes to her Fate, who first refuses them, being an unpleasant ugly ragamuffin. Sfurtuna gives her some cakes and as soon as she can approach her, then grabs her, washes, combs her and dresses her with new clothes. Then Sfortuna’s bad Fate turns into a good Fate, and finally the main actant becomes a queen.
The water of the river where Sfurtuna and her master wash the king’s clothes is a feminine element, and their feminine work may represent the receptive attitude to manage dirty or threatening things, to turn them back into clean and comfortable ones.

My patients suffering from anorexic and/or bulimic diseases find significative and fruitful some motifs belonging to the fairy tales that begin with the injunction of the Sailing Ship of the Black Curse and the Gibbet of the Death Sentence. If we had no word or story to tie something imprisoned in a no-name place, we could never hope to take care of this kind of diseases. We have nothing but words, stories, and the psychoanalytic theories - Wittgenstein defined psychoanalysis a powerful mythology. Nevertheless, something favourable happens, if we remember that our instruments, words and stories, are false or fabulous hooks and baits, by which we can fish some true fish (I paraphrase here Freud [Constructions in Analysis SE 23, p. 262] who quoted Shakespeare: Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth - Hamlet, Act II Scene I, v. 61]). Neither a submarine nor a Delian diver could see the carps and the aquatic monsters in their element; moreover, we can only hypothesize the existence of this inaccessible reality, the unconscious, being unable to demonstrate it. Then it has not a stuff more real than dreams and stories, where fairies and fates dwell.

Nobody could organize a journey to go there, but we can imagine that journey, and in our mind we can, so to say, nourish, clean and dress again our fate. This would not be a real journey, but there is no movement without hope, and the thought and emotions move themselves by fantasy and imagination. This movement can move a new desire an open a walled up door, and the invisible journey has visible effects. (AG)

Italian languageGibbet of the Death Sentence
Map of the Injunction

The injunction of the Gibbet of the Death Sentence means a hard conflict depending on the ambivalence that belongs to every important relation. The mother/daughter bond is the most vital as well as the most dangerous one. Without this hand-to-hand hug, life cannot flow, but life cannot go on if mother and daughter do not untie themselves.

To be born, to live, to die: three immortal sisters managed the thread of human life in ancient Greek mythology; the first drew the thread of life, the second spun it, and the third cut it. Their Greek name is Moirai, Latins called them Parcae. Not even Zeus could change the destiny spun and cut by Fates, and from the Latin word fatum, plural fata, comes the Italian fata, French fée, English fairy (from Old French faerie). Our fate is not in the hands of Zeus or in the hands of our parents. While we are running away, we can meet a helper fairy, or an old woman, or a house with seven little beds. Beyond the family world, that is the matrix of our life, there is a world where we enter taking a risk, to find a shelter, to receive a magic hazelnut. Life is greater than the laces that tie and imprison us to our story; the knots may be untied, even if they are tight and tangled. If Snow White made it, we too can hope to overcome our hindrances. (AG)

Italian languageFortress of Solitude
Map of the Injunction

In the injunction Castle of the Forced Love the bond between father and daughter is so strong that there is a threatening or disgusting husband. In the tales of the Fortress of Solitude the parental actants may be lacking, not even mentioned – The Raven and The White Ricotta –, there is just a paternal actant who fruitlessly proposes to get married to his only daughter – Sweet Diamond Pie -, or his only son. So begins also the fairy tale The Three Citrons, written by Basile in 1734-36, who became a comedy by Carlo Gozzi in 1761, an opera by Sergej Prokofiev in 1919. 

The most famous tale beginning with this injunction is Turandot, written in Paris in 1710 by Pétis de La Croix, an orientalist scholar. He knew from Persian Literature the story of the beautiful princess who cuts off the head of her suitors who try her test and fail. Turandot is the last work of Giacomo Puccini, who died in 1924 before completing his Turandot, and the opera's first performance was held in 1926. Like in the fairy tale of Pétis de La Croix, Puccini's Turandot is set in an fabulous China, and in 1998 they staged this opera in the Forbidden City of Peking, as if the frosty princess had finally came back home. Fairy tales give birth to other fairy tales, nourishing imagination and dreams.

In the tale of Sweet Diamond Pie, the daughter of a merchant decides to make a husband to her taste and asks her father to bring her half a hundredweight of Palermo sugar, four or six bottles of scented water, spices and gems. She makes her creature, loves her ideal man and asks gods to give him life, remembering what happened to the Greek sculptor Pygmalion with his statue of Galatea. With the approval of her astonished father, she marries her Sweet Diamond Pie, but a queen steals him and she has to set off to find him again. Her journey to get back her lost beloved has its prototype in the pilgrimage of Psyche abandoned by Amor in the tale of Apuleius, and recurs in the popular versions of Pig King (see also: Il Re Porco e Amore e Psiche, website Adalinda Gasparini, Psicoanalisi e favole).

The Raven, like The White Ricotta that is one of its popular versions, is a cruel and bloody fascinating fairy tale. The main male actant is a king that reigns without any limit to his passion for haunting, so that he neglects his affairs of state. Refusing to marry, he stops the alternation of generations, but then he falls in love with an ideal wife, imagined by him when he sees three colours togethre: the red blood of a dead raven, the black of its feathers and the white of a marble stone. There is a odd reference to death in the white marble, as well as in the red and black of the raven. The younger brother of the king sets off to find this ideal bride, but this search causes his own death.
The main desire of the king is a girl whose colours refer to death. The only bride he wants has something dead in herself, so that the king longs for both life and death, for the flow of generations and their stop. In fact, the wife has a necromancer father in The Raven, while her parents in The White Ricotta are a two terrible dragons. The younger brother finds this wife, but he sacrifices his own life to protect the king. The happy ending here does not come before many losses, including the petrifying of the younger brother and the killing of the king’s two babies. The king who looks both for life and its refusal causes death for his brother and others.

The Grimm Brothers knew well The Tale of Tales by Basile, and the colours of the female main actant of this tale could have given them the colours of Snow White, who has to lie as a dead. Among the most famous fairy-tales female characters, she is the only princess characterized by black hair, and her colours come from her mother’s wish. The queen would a baby as white as snow, as black as the black ebony wood of her window and as red as her blood, which fell into the snow when she pricked her finger with a needle. As well as the main actants of The Raven, the mother queen of Snow White gives life to her daughter and then she tries to kill her.

There are interesting differences between The Raven and The White Ricotta, when the king knows that his younger brother has sacrificed his life to make him happy. In The Raven the king loves the statue of his brother more than his babies, and kills them causing a fatal pain to his wife. Her necromancer father then comes like a deus ex machina to turn that tragic conclusion into a happy ending. In the popular Calabrian tale the king hears her wife’s dragon parents - who now turned into two pigeons - talking of the mean to give back life to his brother, giving his babies just a temporary death.

This cruel fairy tale presents a king who stopping the flow of generations in the fortress of his solitude, staring at an ideal image, which is then linked to death, while his younger brother lives only to satisfy him. The desire of a new life raids this ideal’s mirror, the same fatal mirror of water that caught Narcissus. The story tells that a very long journey, an abnegation that sacrifices all one’s goods, even life, can cure the main male actant of his attraction for a dead and alive object, like a statue, a fancy or a mirror.

Italian languageCastle of the Forced Love
Map of the Injunction

The Castle of the Forced Love, as well as the Tower of the Segregation, appears in our Map only in one quadrant. We see it in the Northwest Quadrant, since the fairy tales we chose have a main female actant, who has to live together with a monster in order to save her father's life.

With the same injunction starts the type Donkey Skin, whose most famous version was written by Perrault. This story tells of a widower king who promised his dying wife not to marry any woman but beautiful like her. The king sees that his daughter is the only woman right for him, and wants to marry her. But the princess runs away covered with an animal skin, which like a second skin hides her beauty. At the end, she will happily marry a foreign prince. In Fabulando there is also The She-Bear by Basile, which is the first version of this fairy tale, and a folk version, The Tacconelle of Woody Maria. (For the type Donkey Skin, see also two Italian dialectal versions, O dente d'oo, from Liguria, and Maria Intaulata, from Sardinia, website Adalinda Gasparini, Psicoanalisi e favole).

To this injunction belong popular tales of the type Cordelia, which tell of a king who, like Shakespeare’s King Lear, asks his three daughters to say how much they love him. This type is represented in Fabulando by Rot-Eyes. The actant of this tale is banished by her father because he does not accepts her answer, like King Lear. Cordelia said that she loved her father Lear, but she knew that she will love also the man who will marry her, while her elder sisters had declared a total love for their father. It is interesting to understand how the tragedy and the fairy tale, having the same beginning, have so different endings. (About these tales, see: Marian Roalf Emily Cox, Three Hundred and Forty-five Versions of Cinderella, Catskin and Cap O' Rushes, London 1893; see also Adalinda Gasparini, La Luna nella cenere. Analisi del sogno di Cenerentola, Pelle d’Asino, Cordelia, 1999)

In the type of Beauty and the Beast, which is the most popular tale of its type, the main female actant is ready to give her life to save her father. Beauty's father picked a rose for her in the garden of the Beast, who can spare his life just if one of his daughters will come and take her father’s place. The filial actant is ready to die for the parental actant, inverting the natural flow of life. Then the main female actant stops her life, and the tale goes on with the meeting with the monster. The Beast replaces her idealized father and treats Beauty like a queen, melancholically accepting that she cannot love and marry him. An impossible relation between beauty and  ugliness follows the ideal relation between father and daughter. Beauty saves her bond with her father accepting to be the prisoner of a repulsive being, while the Beast tries to win Beauty’s love to get free from the curse that made of him a monstrous being. The main actant of this fairy tale is Beauty, since her father acts the injunction, while the Beast lives alone in his castle because of a duress that had happened before the beginning of the tale. When turnsthe Beast finally  into a beautiful prince, he reveals that he refused to marry a powerful woman, that is to say a maternal actant, who cursed him; just a girl ready to marry him in spite of his animal shape can save him.

In the fairy tale Frog, Frog we see a beautiful princess who finally reveals to the incredulous prince Nicolino that she was just the frog that he thought to marry,

Yes, here I am, you have to know that I was under a spell, and I ought to be a frog as long as I could find a boy who would marry me without knowing my beauty.

In Fabulando collection there is a fourth type, an animal - here a frog - helps the main female actant and asks her to eat from her little plate and sleep on her pillow: The Frog Prince. Here the king father orders his daughter to keep her promise, when the princess does not open the door to the poor little animal. About this princess we only know that she loves to play with her golden ball, and that she will not having a frog near her. Her father king then forces her to fulfil her promise, leaving the frog coming on her pillow. Just when she kisses the slimy frog, in spite of his animal shape, she breaks the spell that condemned him to that animal shape. The prince finally tells that his curse came from a female character, then we note that he had to live into water, which traditionally is, together with earth, a female element.
In the injunction of the Castle of the Forced Love the paternal actant is a father who tries to tie his daughter forever to himself, or a father who willy-nilly causes the union of his daughter with an odd or an invisible lover. Amor is invisible in the Latin tale Amor et Psyche by Apuleius, that could be the prototype of the this kind of fairy tales (see also: Amor et Psyche, Fabella, website Adalinda Gasparini, Psicoanalisi e favole)

To idealize the loved one might look as a form of great love and devotion, which however implies the incestuous bond with the parent loved and mythicized in childhood. Only the gradual acceptance of the troubling extraneousness of the other, unravels the injunction of the Castle of the Forced Love. It makes no difference if the story tells of a father who requires to marry his daughter (type Donkey Skin) or of a daughter who would die to save her father’s life. Children do not choose parents, it is a kind of forced love that is necessary to grow up; girls and boys normally love and idealize them in childhood, while maturity requires that children work the loss of this ideal. To become adult means to give up the ideal parents, together with the daughter’s and the son’s image of perfect creatures, being the ideal partners of that ideal lover.

The incest taboo marks a boundary between parents and descendants, so that we can understand that time flows irreversibly, to make possible the separation between generations and their alternation, with the fertility that renews life. The female and male filial actants need to gain experience of their mutual desire, risking loosing each other. The Beast is afraid that Beauty will not come back to him, but he lets her go, while Beauty is afraid that the Beast died for her fault, and to save him accepts to marry him in spite of his ugliness.

In the fairy tales of the type Donkey Skin the experience of loss and desire happens during three celebrations, when the princess flees the ball to hide herself under her animal skin, increasing the love of the prince. As well as Cinderella loses her glass shoe, Donkey Skin leaves little clues to the lovesick prince, who finally will finds her. (AG)

Italian language4. Quadrants

Southwest Quadrant
Northwest Quadrant
Northeast Quadrant
Southeast Quadrant
Northwestsoutheast Quadrant

Italian languageIntroduction

That which is in opposition
is in concert
and from things that differ
comes the most beautiful harmony

(Heraclitus, DK 8)

To navigate Fairy-tale Land you need clear devices, so as to follow your path without getting lost. This fascinating land is made up of numberless stories and characters connecting to each other in conventional or strange ways, giving rise to fairy tales you already know, to other tales you never heard of, and to other ones telling of a character or a motif you already heard of, whose developments might nevertheless surprise you.
We thought of a first, simple, clear and well-known device to help you to find your position. We could not find anything better than the cardinal points, which always show the way for travellers by land and by sea. North, south, east, and west: you can identify them by looking at the position of the sun related to the horizon.

Nevertheless, in Fabulando there are other references. The perspective of a fairy tale coincides with the perspective of its main character, its main actant (let us think, for example, of Snow White, of Cinderella, of the youth who is going to become the Marquis of Carabas with his helper Pussy Cat). The tale tells the story of its main actant and his/her journey to achieve adult autonomy. At the story’s beginning, each main actant faces a parental actant and his/her injunction, which is his/her main reference. The matter changes if the parental actant is a female or male character, because facing a mother rather than a father figure entails different commitments and leads to different paths. Moreover, there is a crucial difference if the main actant is a girl or a boy: in the fairy tale genders are well defined, and the path of a girl never coincides with a boy’s one. The generative meeting entails here these opposite polarities.
The watershed in our Fairy Map of Succession is the gender of the main and parental actants: female/male defines the polarity of the young actants, motherly/fatherly defines the polarity of the parental actants. We then have four poles, corresponding to the cardinal points. Polarity is our fundamental key, echoing the  sun/moon opposition, allegory of the male/female couple; in many languages the word sun is masculine while moon is feminine, the opposite applies in other languages; what we always find is their opposition.

We placed the paternal injunctions north just as we chose the mountains to represent the father figure. The maternal injunctions found their place in the south, and the sea is a universal symbol of the mother. We put westward the fairy tales whose main actant is a female. We can start from the stories of the feminine, the most numerous among fairy tales. The tales whose main actant is a male one went east, where the sun, masculine in Italian, rises.
We thus got four quadrants in which to organize our fairy tales. Nonetheless, some of them would not find an easy fit, e.g. Hänsel and Gretel and the versions of The Green Beaubird, because their injunction comes from both parents and there are female and male actants. Therefore, we had to design for them the impossible South-north-east-west Quadrant.

These five quadrants, together with our ten injunctions, are the devices you can use to find your bearings within Fabulando and its Fairy Map of Succession. Every fairy tale has its own map, with its quadrant in the upper left, and with a click or touch, you can open the map of that quadrant with all its fairy tales, linked in turn to their own maps. But can you see other possible paths? We made up Fabulando to invite you to go on scouting and meeting new characters and stories. (CC)

Italian languageSouthwest Quadrant
Map of the Quadrant

In this quadrant we see fairy tales with a main female actant who sets off down her path and begins her tale responding to a necessity, an order, a constraint, or a death sentence enacted by a maternal figure.

In this quadrant, there is just one fairy tale in which the maternal figure does not impose anything on her daughter, and it is the tale of The Seven Little Pigeons. In this tale, the main actant leaves of her own free will, to find a remedy for the lack of the maternal figure that consists of her mother and of her mother's absent-minded midwife.

In every other tale of this quadrant, the main actant undergoes an oppression of different degrees. They start with the segregated Cinderella and Parsley, oppressed by a stepmother or by an ogress, and they end with the curse and death sentence that condemn Sleeping Beauty and Snow White to a comatose sleep. Between these degrees we find the possible and dangerous task imposed by her mother on Red Riding Hood, the exile imposed on Flower and Flowerstem by their stepmother, the impossible task imposed on the main actant by the mother in the tale The Mammone Cat, the dereliction of Pooavola Doll, imposed on her daughters by their poor mother, who upon dying leaves them only a small box filled with tow. We want to observe that we find the Tower of the Segregation only in this quadrant, while the Sailing Ship of the Black Curse and the Gibbet of the Death Sentence are found only in the southern part of the map. We see then that only a female main actant may undergo a segregation imposed only by a maternal figure, and we see that a female or male main actant may undergo a black curse or a death sentence only coming from a maternal figure. The worst persecution, which can imprison or kill the descendant, belongs to this quadrant or to the southeast quadrant, and this means that the worst threat comes from the maternal figure. If we were now to deduce from all this that mothers are more dangerous than fathers, we would miss the meaning of fairy tales; we prefer to see that the relation with the mother is highly dangerous remembering that through this relation every human being obtains life and nourishment, the first food that is foundation and pattern for every future nourishment.

The female main actants in the southwest quadrant are beautiful, good and innocent, even if they kill their first stepmother, like the seventeenth-century Cat Cinderella. If it is told that the good mother died, we know that the daughter has lost her good donor mother. The perfect goodness is only on the side of the daughter, representing an ideal Ego, and to this perfect daughter corresponds an evil mother who can even kill her daughter and eat her heart. These fairy tales represent a psychological conflict, and our identification with the beautiful innocent main actant protects us from anxiety and allows our destructive unconscious drives to emerge. These themes concern any mother-daughter relation in everyday life.

Using the key of succession, we suggest that there is a common constant in this conflict, that may take numberless shapes in fairy tales. In common life it takes many shapes too, as many as there are mothers and daughters who live through it. These fairy tales tell of a mother who does not want to be overwhelmed by her daughter, a mother who does not want to grow old, to see her beauty fading, her power decreasing, and her death approaching. This mother tries to do something to stop time. On the opposite side, there is a daughter who tries to do something to speed up time, like the little girl who wants to take for herself her mother’s clothes, her jewels, her place near her father and her power to give life. These are immortal indomitable desires that do not need any permission to come into play. Nevertheless, it is through their opposition that life flows. The young actant wins because time works for her victory, not because she is better than her mother, even if it is important to believe this, so important that fairy tales always tell of a beautiful innocent daughter. We could not face life, so hard and full of risks, without a confidence in ourselves, thinking to be better than we really are.

Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night,
Who have never been happy or good.
(W. H. Auden, September, 1, 1939)

The fairy tales of the southwest quadrant always tell that a time has to pass, a time without time, or an incredibly long time, maybe a century, so long is the expectance of Sleeping Beauty. Time always wins, and life flows scoffing at our human delusion to slow it down or speed it up. Beauty and innocence are made to blossom like flowers, following their season. Fairy tales pretend to mimic the rhythm of life. (AG)

Italian languageNorthwest Quadrant
Map of the Quadrant

In the northwest quadrant the moon of the main female actant lights the Paternal Mountains, and here we find very close daughters and fathers, be they king, merchants or villains, and fairy tales that flow from this relation. The fairy tale that explicitly refers to the incest, is Perrault's Donkey Skin (Peau d'âne). In Italian dialectal collections we find The Tacconelle of Woody Maria, in Molise, and the Ligurian O dente d'oo (available in the website Adalinda Gasparini, Psicoanalisi e favole). In the 16th century collection by Straparola we find Doralice, the prototype of Donkey Skin, the female main actant of which has to run away from her incestuous father. In the 17th century collection Tale of Tales by Giambattista Basile we find two fairy tales of this type, The She-Bear and Penta the Handless The incestuous king of this last story would marry his sister. In Perrault's tale and in many following popular Italian version the main female actant imposes on her father to provide her with wonderful dresses that give her the brightness of the sun and the grace and beauty of the sea. Her father always gives her what she asked, making her nearly a goddess of nature. Not to marry her father, the daughter must then run away, covered with the skin of an animal. The animal in Perrault's version is a donkey, in the English tradition it is a cat, in other version we can find a wood-dress, or the skin of a dead woman, who died hundred years old. Together with the wonderful gowns, which the daughter secretly keeps, the repulsive skin veils and unveils the incestuous love.

This clearly incestuous fairy tale shows the character of the northwest quadrant, a father who imposes himself on his daughter, and a daughter who cannot do her life because she is bound to her father. The first love of every girl is her father, and if she does not stop keeping him as her ideal lover, she will not be able to love a human being, who can never correspond to an ideal image.

There are then fairy tales characterized by a metaphorical incest, like Rot-Eyes and Beauty and the Beast. In this stories a father loves his daughter so much that he risks his life to pick a rose for her; the daughter loves him so much that she is ready to offer her life to save her father. The love ideal is so strong that the transformation and the happy ending come just after a long closeness with the opposite of the ideal, the Beast.

In the Calabrian Provençal tale Solver of Riddles, Solve this Riddle, the incest concerns the nourishment that a daughter gives her prisoner father. This incest gives the riddle par excellence, and since the solver marquis is not able to solve it, the main female actant gets freedom for her father.

In The Lost Doll the main female actant is the beloved daughter of a king who suddenly dies. She loses her father and the doll that she always kept near herself, and her happy ending cannot come if she does not find out her doll. This doll means here the ideal image of the princess, a part of her identity that she needs to grow up. A prince has found the lost doll, and fell in love with this ideal image; the princess find her lost doll with him, and they get happily married.

In the tale of Sweet Diamond Pie the main female actant loves so much her ideal partner that she does not leave her father's house. Then she gets from her merchant father the ingredients to make a man of her taste.

In the tale of Violet the main actant demands to be an ideal for her prince, and escaping all his attacks she arouses his desire. She leads a courteous cunning game that however would not be enough to get a happy ending. As well as in every fairy tale of this quadrant, the ideal needs to confront itself with its opposite, that here is an ogre. This clumsy ingenuous creature adopts the cunning beautiful Violet, and this combination of opposites is the ingredient that every fairy tale in this quadrant needs to reach an happy ending. (AG)

Italian languageNortheast Quadrant
Map of the Quadrant

The sun of the main male actant floodlights the Paternal Mountains, and the parent injunctions drive to long journeys the protagonists in the fairy tales inscribed on this quadrant.

We could start with the two Little John, both lacking intention to learn a trade to live. Dauntless Little John has no parent: the injunction of his tale is the lack of paternal law. He lives here or there as if everything would be simple, without any desire, so that he can spend a whole night in a cursed castle, because nothing frightens him. But he then dies at the first sight of his own shadow, or of his own bottom. The other little John too is never afraid (Little John and the Shudder), but he misses fear, and he has a father who throws him out of the house, because little John does not learn anything. The feeling of a lack is necessary to learn from experience, and it leads the main actant to an ending quite different from Dauntless Little John.
In the ancient fairy tale The Raven and in The White Ricotta - which is one of its popular variants - the young king has no parent and his paternal injunction is implicit: he is opposed against the father who left him his throne, because he reigns without any interest to marry and leave his throne to an heir.  Through a sudden image, this king falls in love with an ideal woman, who links life - red blood - and death - white marble. The tale disentangles step by step, risk after risk, this mixture of death and life that would block the alternation of generations. This tale is so harsh that it could be enough to teach how fairy tales are not at all reassuring stories for children.

Main male actants like Madmatt or the poor lad who owns just a cat (Master Cat or Puss in Boots), may find a male magic helper, who gives them what they are missing. Here we see a father who cannot issue his son with a concrete inheritance, but the main actant experiences a magic or supernatural helper who endows him with magic gifts; at the end, he marries a princess and becomes heir to the throne.

The father turns out of his house the main actant of the tale The Cockroach, the Mouse and the Cricket, as well as the father in the tale Little John and the Shudder. The main actant starts without any father's protection and this forces him to count just on his resources and on the helpers he may meet. On this way, these actants can grow up and get a happy ending through amazing and risky adventures. This is one of the best stories of the Tale of Tales by Basile, and it is hilarious.

The Golden Eagle is the most ancient tale of our collection, and it may be seen more as a chivalry tale than a fairy tale. The main actant, Arrighetto, heir to the German Empire,conquers Lena, or Elena, in spite of her father, the King of Aragon. He enters in her room hiding into a big golden eagle, as well as the Greeks entered in Troy hiding in the wooden horse. Then his paternal antagonist is the King of Aragon, and the rape of Lena causes a war that involves all the European peoples.

Jesus, the highest paternal authority, endows the faber of the Friulian tale Smithy Menico of the means to cheat Death and Devil. This male main actant might be a little fairy-tale brother of the mythic Prometheus, since his desire is not to save his soul, but to play tricks on supernatural beings.

We finally see in this quadrant two fairy tales with an explicit paternal injunction, The Marmotta Queen and Frog, Frog. In these tales, the king father imposes an impossible task on his sons, in order to choose his successor. The main male actant finally gets the throne because he tried this impossible task. In the first tale he finds the water to cure his king father of blindness, in the second one he has to find his wife in a ditch were only a frog lives.

In the fairy tales, the main actants having an impossible task or choosing an impossible commitment always get a happy ending. Just a superficial look fails to appreciate the realistic truth told by fairy tales: life is an impossible task that we cannot give up, unless we stop it together with ourselves. Life flows with us through the succession of the generations. (AG)

Italian languageSoutheast Quadrant
Map of the Quadrant

The sun of the main male actant here rises from the sea or goes down into the sea. The protagonist of the Umbrian tale Thus Ended the Idiot drowns into the Maternal Sea because he does not know the complexity of language and the responsibility of the subject using it. He cannot grow up because his mother, knowing his simple-mindedness, teaches him what to say, as if he would never run into unforeseen circumstances. This dumb actant repeats other's words and he cannot learn anything during his journey.

Little Chickpea tells of a woman, consumed with the lack of children, who gets so many children from her pot of chickpeas that she kills them. Just one of these very little sons survives, and he hides himself and comes out just when he gets from his mother the promise that she will not kill him. This fairy tale tells that the mother's desire is not enough to live. Little Chickpea becomes his father's assistant, he disappears into the belly of a cow and he comes out of it thanks to his father. Then he can live happily ever after with his parents.

A male main actant goes to look for his three sisters who disappeared in a far world, because they had to marry three animals (The Three Animal Kings) or three passers-by (The Dying Fairy's Will). In the first tale, the main actant chooses by himself to set off to remedy this lack of the female element, in the second tale an old woman by a spell forces him to start the same research. To recover the lost female side means repairing his mother's loss and this entails many vicissitudes that drive to a happy ending.

In The Enchanted Doe, the queen becomes pregnant thanks to a magic fish that is so powerful that even the queen's damsel becomes pregnant. Two boys are born like two peas in a pod, and they grow up loving each other more than two brothers. The queen hates the son of her damsel and she tries to kill him. Then this youth leaves and conquers a princess, but an ogre catches him. The prince then sets up and goes to free him. These two brothers get their happy ending helping each other to nullify the mother's deadly power.

In this quadrant, we find the first ancient version of Master Cat or Puss in Boots (Puss in Boots), where a dying mother leaves her younger child just a she-cat. The poor lad follows the advices of his animal helper and finally he surpasses his elder brothers, who got from the mother enough to make a normal living.

The injunction of the Sailing Ship of the Black Curse is only in the south quadrants of our map, like a mortgage that the main actants get from birth. It can come from their's mother or a curse, in any case coming from a maternal figure.
The main male actant in the fairy tale Pig King has an animal body, and he turns into a handsome prince just when his wife loves him enough to take care with tenderness of him when he is a dirty pig. In a 19th Florentine version the Pig's wife has to go and look for him so long to worn out seven pair of iron shoes and seven iron sticks, and to fill up seven flasks with her tears (Re porco, version collected by Vittorio Imbriani).

In this quadrant there is also the first story of Basile's collection, The Tale of the Ogre. Here the maternal injunction is explicit like the paternal one of the fairy tale The Cockroach, the Mouse and the Cricket. In the first story a father chases away a loafer idiot son, in the second a mother does the same, and these parents beat their sons so harshly that they run away not to die under their father or mother's blows. In The Tale of the Ogre, we find with the main actant an ugly ogre who is a good master, making the idiot boy able to give a rich dowry to his sisters and live happily and wealthy together with his mother. This tale is an ancient splendid version of the popular European fairy tales Table-Be-Set, Gold-Donkey, and Cudgel-out-of-the-Sack. The story tells how the actant can  grow up starting from a very bad condition, if he sets off and has the time - and the chance - to learn from his experience.

The sun of the main male actants does not end in the Maternal Sea if they can separate from her; this comes true only when they meet a male helper, be he a brother (The Enchanted Doe),  three brothers-in-law (The Three Animal Kings and The Dying Fairy's Will), or even a master ogre (The Tale of the Ogre). (AG)

Italian languageNorthwestsoutheast Quadrant
Map of the Quadrant

Travelling through the boundless land of Fairy Tales, we decided to draw a map to enable you to travel using our map, choosing the most clear and less strict coordinates, symbols and signs we could draw. We then assigned our Sixty-seven fairy tales to the four quadrants of our map, so that you - choosing our map - can travel by it and visit these tales, enjoying their beauty, finding out their origin, catching sight of the countries, the writers and the illustrators who handed down them to us. We enjoy their inheritance, together with the wealth of the numberless storytellers, men and women that all over the world told these fairy tales and did not pass on their name.
Then, as soon as we thought to have ordered our collection with the Fairy Map of Succession, some other fairy tales came that we thought to be able to place in one of our quadrant, but they moved upwards and downwards, going eastwards and westwards.

To keep the coherence of our map we should have put these tales aside and forget them, since they do not stop in any quadrant. Nevertheless, we love too much this potent, soft and democratic storytelling genre to prefer our map to their inhexaustible polysemy. Then we added an impossible fifth quadrant, and once more we understood  that the exception proves the rule and gives evidence to this genre's strength: no outline can include all fairy tales.

The fairy tale that made us draw the northsoutheastwestern quadrant is one of the most popular in the world, Hänsel e Gretel. Starting from its title, this fairy tale has two equally persecuted main actants, male and female, which are equally active to react against the danger, to be overwhelmed by hunger, that is at first is the hunger of their mother, then of their father, then of an old witch. Their witch lives in a house made of the cookies and the sweets that children gladly eat, but the witch nourishes them to eat them as soon as they become tasty. This fairy tale starts with the injunction of the Gibbet of the Death Sentence, coming from their mother who realizes it together with their father. They abandon their children in the forest, where the wild animals will devour them. Here we have a maternal and paternal death sentence, against their son and daughter. The children save themselves together, instead of dying together, and they defeat the witch, who is a supernatural devouring maternal figure. The parent's hunger and the famine in this story entail the elimination of the new generation, because the old generation chooses to stop time sacrificing the youngs.

Then, when we drew the impossible fifth quadrant, with its Maternal Sea and Paternal Mountains, with the sun and moon representing the male and female main actants, we were thinking also of one of our favourite fairy tales, that we had first excluded from our collection because we were not able to decide where to place it in our Fairy Map of Succession. It is The Green Beaubird - this is our translation of the Italian Augel Belverde -, a fairy tale spread all over Europe, whose first printed version was written by Giovan Francesco Straparola in 16th century. It has interesting analogies with the novella of Griselda by Giovanni Boccaccio, the hundredth ending tale of Decameron. Francesco Petrarca translated it in Latin (De insigni obedientia et fide uxoris), and Geoffrey Chaucer retold it in Canterbury Tales (The Clerk's tale). There is no magic in Boccaccio's novella, but the two main characters are so extreme in their way of acting that they might be someway enchanted.

In The Green Beaubird the persecutor is a maternal figure, the mother of the king who married the main female actant, convincing the king to punish his innocent wife. Moreover, the mother queen sentences to death the three beautiful magic children of the young queen. Nevertheless, the three twins survive, and grow up to go and look for their parents. They all have to face up to impossible tasks and they risk to die to get magical objects that belong to the alchemy tradition. The three twins have magical gifts, like golden hair and a star on their forehead.
The maternal black curses of the southern quadrants give the main actants an animal body or a death sleep. In The Green Beaubird  there is a maternal gift, a blessing that protects the children, making them wonderful and rich, and this activates the envy of the mother queen, who cannot tolerate to be surpassed.

Like nearly every fairy tale, The Green Beaubird tells how the old generation tries to eliminate the new one, as if this could stop its decline. The magic beauty of the three children remembers the beauty of every child for its parents and grandparents, because on one side we would not like to die, on the other side we know that only the new generation can inherit and save our hope for a better future. Each fairy tale tells in a different way how succession may be a tragic game and how life tends to flow getting round obstacles or dissolving them into thin air. We could simply make friends with time, learning to await and to seize the moment to act. (AG)

Italian language5. Lake of Generation

In the Lake of Generation located in the centre of our map, the waters of four rivers mix together. These four rivers separate and join our map's four quadrants. Since the Paternal Mountains are in the north, the river that separates and joins northwest and northeast quadrants originates from the mountains and flows into the lake, of which it is a tributary. An outflowing river flows from the Lake into the Maternal Sea separating and joining the southwest and the southeast quadrants.
The two rivers that separate and join the south quadrants can be considered as flowing out of the Lake. In this case their meaning they express is that the new generation comes from the blend of the parental waters. However, they could be also considered to be tributaries of the Lake, representing female and male actants coming from different places and bringing their water to the Lake of Generation. At the same time they change from descendants or children into parents.
The Lake of Generation is in any case the centre of the Fairy Map of Succession, with its tributary and emissary four rivers. This means that succession is the core and heart of all our tales. 
The centre of the map thus represents the triple generative meeting among the four types of actants; the first one unites in marriage male and female parental actants, the second one unites parents and children, the third one unites in a new marriage male and female actants and restores life.

Time marks these meetings with a double movement that intertwines a direct irreversible motion with a circular cyclical motion. The irreversible nature of time requires the growth of the descendant, towards generative maturity, and it also requires the ageing of the parent. Death, if it is not untimely, comes first to the parent, while the son and the daughter ascend to the throne of life. The cyclical nature of time leads the youths to the place of their parents, so that they inherit and preserve their throne, to leave it to their children when in their turn they will abdicate from it or die.
Following the irreversible movement of time, of the years that follow each other and never come back, our story starts with our birth, out of nothing, leads us to the highest power of maturity, which goes on for some years, and then we die, going back to nothing. We renew our parent's life following the cyclical movement of time, with its weeks bringing the same seven days, and its months and seasons that come back every year with their feasts. Also our parents renewed their parent's life, following a chain that started once upon a time, a long time ago, a chain that never broke, to get to us. We are a ring in this chain and we receive life from the rings before ours, as well as we give life to the rings after ours. If our personal story belongs to this chain, it cannot be voided by nothingness, but our individual life, untied from past and future generations, is always threatened by a lack of sense. 

The masculine and the feminine are universally represented by the sun and the moon, as well as by earth and sky, and they make up a couple of opposites that attract each other. Their intertwining is constant and it ties them together  without confusing them, indicating the fertility of their braid. Our calendar consists of months, that depend on the regular rhythm of sun, which over the course of one year covers the circle of the zodiac, and it depends also on weeks, which last for a phase of the moon.
These two motions of time could be seen as two moods of our being. One of these moods shapes and protects our perception of ourselves as distinctive unrepeatable beings, living in a time and in a space that have the same limits of our physical existence. The other mood corresponds to the cyclical motion of time and takes place between others and us. It belongs neither only to us nor only to others, but is a means between them and us and leads us to the common life. The single ring that we are gains value from its bonds with other rings, and our present is made up of the heritage that we receive from the past and the heritage that we leave for the future. 
We cannot reach an equilibrium if we do not acknowledge our bond with the past. First of all, with our parents, who gave birth to us. Parents look powerful to their children, they look like the kings, queens, fairies and ogres of fairy tales, who are both givers and persecutors. Then we have to acknowledge the gift of life coming from our ancestors and from the cultures that preceded us and gave birth to our own, in which we are living and speaking. At the same time, we have to acknowledge our bond with the future generations and gain experience from it, first of all by looking to our children who gaze at us as if we were beautiful and rich, like the main actants in fairy tales. We also need to take on a responsibility for the future, without which our hopes and projects do not have space to blossom. But we cannot work successfully if we expect to immediately reap the benefits of what we do.
The beauty of the future generations is like the happy ending of fairy tales: it is told of, but we cannot be there to prove it. That bit of joy which we taste when happiness comes into the tale should be enough for us, even if we are all grown up and disenchanted.
Nobody knows if beyond the happy ending the tale’s characters will really live forever together in peace and prosperity. Nevertheless, if we were to lose even that bit of joy, if we do not smile when Cinderella finally dances and flies with her Prince Charming, we would miss a vital thing, the lightness of our desire.

There is only one woman who teaches philosophy in the Dialogues by Plato. She comes onto the stage in the Symposium, the dialogue about Love/Eros.
Diotima, this woman, tells Socrates the story of the birth of Eros and teaches him how he was wrong about Eros. The philosopher tells his table companions of what he learnt, because speaking of this topic they were making his same mistake. They thought that Love/Eros was beautiful and good because they were thinking of the one who is loved.  But to love means to have desire and longing for something above everything else, for something or somebody that we do not have, another being that our desire renders perfectly beautiful and good. This beauty belongs to the main actants of fairy tales and it exists in reality: it belongs to children in their parents' eyes and to parents in their little children's eyes, as well as to lovers in each others' eyes.
The beauty of a child's mother or father becomes a fading illusion when he or she grows up, as well as the beauty of the beloved looks like a blunder or a fraud when love is gone. However, parents love their children forever, with joy when they understand each other and when they exchange gifts with each other, and then with sorrow when there are clashes and misunderstandings. When we are children, we return this love with our whole being. But as soon as we reach maturity, we break the mirror of our ideal parent into pieces, in order to look far away from our origin and find something or somebody who might build up a new mirror for our new ideal of beauty. A commitment, a job, a lover, a child, may come to us to reflect our ideal image, because somehow we always need to think that we are, or we were or will be again good and beautiful, like Cinderella and Prince Charming. 
If this disenchantment does not come, if the mirror and the reflection does not break in pieces, life does not flow, because we are motionless, like Narcissus and his image. Nevertheless, this disenchantment is hard, because every transformation means a loss, and because the cyclical motion of time brings new flowers and fruits every year, but the flowers and the fruits of this particular season wither, rot and disappear forever.
All we know is that our permanence through new generations and our fleeting presence as unrepeatable subjects intertwine, and we can live in this fact and acknowledge a sense in it or not. It is however, the way life flows, because life makes use out of the death of the old generation which makes way for the new one, so that the vigour and the beauty of children, of youths, renew life while parents become old.
This is the first or the last sense of life, a mystery to be veiled more than to be unveiled. The succession of the new generation needs those three encounters, between parents through their union, then between parents and their children, and finally between different youths, who through their union reach the place of their parents. This tale has been told in one thousand tales and one. Religions and ideologies teach how to deal with it. But no tale about this logos of life could ever overcome what Diotima taught Socrates, because her tale was in love with life's truth and able to stand off against what eludes the mastery of our thought.

This procreation is the union of man and woman, and is a divine thing; for conception and generation are an immortal principle in the mortal creature …
But why of generation?' 'Because to the mortal creature, generation is a sort of eternity and immortality,' she replied; 'and if, as has been already admitted, love is of the everlasting possession of the good, all men will necessarily desire immortality together with good: Wherefore love is of immortality.
What is the cause, Socrates, of love, and the attendant desire? See you not how all animals, birds, as well as beasts, in their desire of procreation, are in agony when they take the infection of love, which begins with the desire of union; whereto is added the care of offspring, on whose behalf the weakest are ready to battle against the strongest even to the uttermost, and to die for them, and will let themselves be tormented with hunger or suffer anything in order to maintain their young. Man may be supposed to act thus from reason; but why should animals have these passionate feelings? Can you tell me why?

For here again, and on the same principle too, the mortal nature is seeking as far as is possible to be everlasting and immortal: and this is only to be attained by generation, because generation always leaves behind a new existence in the place of the old. Nay even in the life of the same individual there is succession and not absolute unity: a man is called the same, and yet in the short interval which elapses between youth and age, and in which every animal is said to have life and identity, he is undergoing a perpetual process of loss and reparation—hair, flesh, bones, blood, and the whole body are always changing. Which is true not only of the body, but also of the soul, whose habits, tempers, opinions, desires, pleasures, pains, fears, never remain the same in any one of us, but are always coming and going; and equally true of knowledge, and what is still more surprising to us mortals, not only do the sciences in general spring up and decay, so that in respect of them we are never the same; but each of them individually experiences a like change. For what is implied in the word "recollection," but the departure of knowledge, which is ever being forgotten, and is renewed and preserved by recollection, and appears to be the same although in reality new, according to that law of succession by which all mortal things are preserved, not absolutely the same, but by substitution, the old worn-out mortality leaving another new and similar existence behind—unlike the divine, which is always the same and not another? And in this way, Socrates, the mortal body, or mortal anything, partakes of immortality; but the immortal in another way. Marvel not then at the love which all men have of their offspring; for that universal love and interest is for the sake of immortality.
(Symposium) (AG)

Italian language6. Fabulando Storytelling



Fairy tales per for YouTube


Cat Cinderella app-tale

History of the fairy tale

Finding a fairy tale on the web is very easy. We open a search engine website, then we
 write the title, Cinderella for example, and we get a list of a hundred or a thousand links. We never explore them all; we stop at the first three or four web-pages. There we find indications for some sites containing a famous version of the tale, usually simplified, often complete with illustrations or glittering movies. Then we find links for films, movies and live action, and for theater performances. We can find out – if we do not already know it - that Rossini composed an opera, La Cenerentola, up to now represented in many opera seasons. But we probably do not know anything about Cat Cinderella, the first amazing version of this tale, published in Naples in the 17th century. In Fabulando there are other beautiful fairy tales that Disney never retold, Little Chickpea, Frog, Frog, Dauntless Little John, The White Ricotta, The Green Beaubird, belonging to the Italian and European folk heritage.It is ulikely to find these at the top of a web search, unless we look for them specifically. This would require prior knowledge of the existence of this heritage. Nevertheless, these tales are freely available on the web, but it is nearly impossible to find them if we are not already expert on this subject.
Well, one of the main principles guiding our project to build Fabulando, as well as our choice of different narrative means, is to provide easy access to numberless fairy tales available online in many versions. There are countless collections of ancient and classical tales, written in local dialects or in national languages, which remain unknown.

There is another principle guiding our work. We love the beautiful old books of fairy tales, we enjoy their charm, page after page, image after image, surprise after surprise, and we believe that it is possible to get this pleasure also by digital means, like our Fabulando e-books. (CC)

Italian language6.1 E-book

tells all the Sixty-seven tales of its collection - in an e-book, a digital book that however has the colours and the rustling of a paper book, and the finest illustrations of the great artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries. We made original headletters for the e-books of our collection from their wonderful children’s books.

We told almost every fairy tale in two e-books, including the tale in the original language and the facing translation in the languages we chose, Italian, that is our mother tongue, and English, which is now the international language. We drew the original language versions from the major collections available online; the Italian dialectal fairy tales come from 19th and early 20th century collections, the ancient fairy tales come from 14th, 16th and 17th century Italian collections, the European tales come from the collections written by Charles Perrault, the Grimm Brothers, and others.

The e-books of these four sections bear the following titles on their covers:

1. People of Wonders. Italian Dialectal Fairy Tales
2. The World’s First Fairy Tales. Published in Italy from  the 16th to  the 17th century
3. Europa in fabula. The World's Most Beloved Fairy Tales
4. Migrant Stories. Tales without Borders

The e-books have an end page with the sources of original language and translated versions, of illustrations and headletters and of the ancient geographic maps; there is then a link on this page to get the general Bibliography of Fabulando, with the links to fairy tale collections available online.

We transcribed the Italian dialectal fairy-tales and the English, German or French ones from the quoted sources (see the final page Fonti/Sources in every e-book, and the Fairybiblio, Bibliography of Fabulando) keeping the punctuation marks of the original edition. The punctuation variety is a mirror of the variety of the verbal, narrative and symbolic language of the fairy-tales. (CC)

Italian language6.2 E-kamishibai

E-kamishibai is the word we use in Fabulando drawing on the word e-book. Just  as e-book means ‘digital book’, e-kamishibai means ‘digital kamishibai’.
Kamishibai means in Japanese ‘paper drama’. It spread throughout Japan in the period between the World Wars, when the kamishibaya, who were storytellers, went along the streets of the towns by a bicycle, equipped with a little wood theatre. The kamishibaya told his tales scrolling through this little theatre a set of illustrations. Everybody could stop and listen to the tale, but the kamishibaya reserved the first rows of seats to children who bought the kamishibaya's candies before the show. Brightly coloured illustrations slid in the little theatre and greatly impressed the public. It was a real picture storytelling, animated by the kamishibaya's voice and gestures. The kamishibai was very popular: when TV came to Japan they called it denki kamishibai, ‘electric kamishibai’.

In Fabulando many illustrations come from the work of Walter Crane (1845-1915) who retold through images many popular fairy tales. We imitated the Japanese kamishibai and adapted it to the digital media, reworking these illustrations to get a wider set of images. Everybody can slide with a touch or a click to tell the fairy tale as he/she likes, just like a real kamishibaya.

We have an e-kamishibai for these fairy tales: Beauty and the Beast, Little Brier Rose, Cat Cinderella (by the Authors of Fabulando), Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Master Cat or Puss in Boots, Puss in Boots, Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and The Frog Prince. (CC)

6.3 Fairy tales for YouTube

Jack and the Beanstalk
Little Brier Rose (ASAP coming)

Red Riding Hood

Italian language6.4 Movies

We retold Puss in Boots and The Frog Prince also through movies that we realized reworking illustrations of Walter Crane that enchanted us with their beauty, their expressive power and their intelligence. The original images are five for The Frog Prince, seven for Puss in Boots. Following our respect for Crane’s work, we disassembled and re-assembled his images, to build a movie covering the whole story of these two fairy tales. We inserted some captions to make the tales understandable, following the finesse, the humour and the rhythm that are typical of folk tales, then we wrote our captions in rhymes. We made their font inspired by the captions of a very famous silent movie, The Thief of Bagdad (US, 1924). Our movies have original soundtracks composed by Federico Riondino who played theme variations of O che bel castello (popular nursery song), I’ te vurria vasà (Eduardo di Capua, 1900), Te voglio bene assaje (1839 c.a.), together with Ugo Nativi and Lorenzo Nardi.

We would like to say something else about Puss in Boots. Walter Crane illustrated the most famous version of this tale, Master Cat or Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault. We inserted this tale, well known throughout the world, among our European fairy tales, but we chose to rework the first version of Puss in Boots published in the world (La Gatta, available on the website Adalinda Gasparini, Psicoanalisi e favole). It belongs to the 16th century collection The Facetious Nights by Giovan Francesco Straparola, and it tells of a madam cat. So, Fabulando offers Puss in Boots and Master Cat or Puss in Boots, with the same illustrations. Nevertheless, we chose to realize our movie starting from the first charming version, which is less known. (CC)

Puss in Boots
The Frog Prince

Italian language6.5 Cat Cinderella App-tale

The version of Cinderella told by the Authors has a special place in Fabulando. Besides an e-book and an e-kamishibai, the map of this fairy tale gives access to an iPad app that we realized disassembling and re-assembling the illustrations by Arthur Rackham and retelling the story from the versions by Giambattista Basile (1634-36), by Charles Perrault (1697), by Walt Disney (1950) and by the folk Florentine version La Cenerentola (Imbriani, 1877). Our app is entirely devoted to Cinderella, and every page consists of a written text, a little movie and a narrating voice. There is also an original soundtrack.

The app is freely available, with Italian, English, Modern Greek and Latin text. About our Greek and Latin translations: we wanted to pay tribute to our classical culture, that upheld across the millennia its generative flow in thought and narrative, up to contemporary storytelling

(To download this app go to the Map of the Tale; other news about it are also available). (CC)

Italian language6.6 History of the fairy  tale

There are two little e-books in Fabulando where the Frog himself (The Frog Prince) and the Cat herself (Puss in Boots) tell the key points of the story of their tales.
Every fairy tale has an interesting history that could highlight its links with other tales and other cultural forms, like literature and cinema. We chose the stories of these two tales for their great storytellers (the Grimm Brothers and Charles Perrault respectively) and for the charm of the histories of these stories.
The history of Puss in Boots arouses curiosity because of its gender changes. In nearly one and a half century, a she-cat, inherited by the main actant from his mother, becomes a she-cat inherited from the father, and then a he-cat that the protagonist inherits from his father. In the e-book we try to understand why the last version prevailed, becoming the tale that everybody knows.
On the other side, The Frog Prince, in the version by the Grimm Brothers, shows its deep bonds with medieval literature.

We asked the Frog and the Cat to speak in person, to say something about a wide spread of interesting matters that are usually enclosed in specialised fields. Our dear animals tell their little history with mild amusing words. Unable to deepen every topic, they briefly show all the salient events of their fairy tale's centuries-old history.  (CC)

Story Puss in Boots
The Frog Prince

Italian language8. Sixty-six fairy tales

Vetta del compito
of the Impossible Task
The Mammone Cat
Solver of Riddles, Solve my 
Frog, Frog
The Marmotta Queen
The Dying Fairy's Will

Veliero della
                                          maledizione Sailing Ship
of the Black Curse

Brier Rose
Pig King
Sleeping Beauty in the Wood
Sun, Moon and Talia

Patibolo della condanna a
of the Death Sentence

Hänsel and Gretel
Little Chickpea
Snow White and the Seven

The Crystal Casket
The Enchanted Doe

Sweet Diamond Pie
The Three Citrons
The Princess of Hairy Valley

The Raven

The White Ricotta
Torre della segregazione
of the Segregation
Cat Cinderella (By the Authors
     of Fabulando)
Cat Cinderella (First Published
    Version, 17th century)
Surya Bai

                                          del compito possibile
of the Possible Task

Thus Ended the Idiot
Dauntless Little John
Red Riding Hood
The Ridiculous Wishes

Bosco dell'esilio
of the Exile

Flower and Flowerstem
The Cockroach, the Mouse and
   the Cricket

Little John and the Shudder
Penta the Handless
The Duck with Golden Eggs
The Tale of the Ogre

Castello dell'amore
of the Forced Love

Beauty and the Beast
Belindu the Monster
Donkey Skin

The Tacconelle of Woody Maria

The King of Spinningwheel
The Frog Prince
The She-Bear

                                          dei derelitti
of the Dereliction

Jack and the Beanstalk
Humà, the Lucky Bird
The Lost Doll
The Goose
Master Cat or Puss in Boots
Pooavola Doll
Puss in Boots
The Golden Goose
The Youth and the Lamp
Labirinto dell'impegno
Labyrinth of the
Impossible Commitment

The Seven Little Pigeons
The Golden Eagle
Smithy Menico
Master Bëninhë
The Three Animal Kings
Romany Violet
Catarina the Wise

The Sing-Song of Sibyl Sarah
L'Oiseau Bulbul Hezar
The Daughters of the Wild
    Cabbages' Gatherer

Princess Belle Étoile
The Green Beaubird


Italian languageIntroduction

We chose the Sixty-seven fairy tales of our collection following two intertwined lines, researching both the pleasure of storytelling charged with meaning and a philological strictness.
Our choice of ancient and first versions does not however depend on a mere wish for correctness. An example of our reasoning is given by this story. We put forward this scarcely known version of Snow White, published by the Grimm Brothers, not because it is the best one, but because it is little known and yet very meaningful. It shows the heart of this tale's subject matter more than other versions. The core of Snow White is the crucial hand-to-hand fight between mother and daughter that we called injunction of the Gibbet of the Death Sentence.
We chose our fairy tales classifying them both according to our ten injunctions, and facing the immense heritage of storytelling, especially in Europe.
We chose Cinderella because this tale has been with us since the start of our research, and because it is one of the most famous fairy tales. Similarly, we chose to include in Fabulando most other very popular fairy tales. Then we went back to the first fairy tales published in the world, which are Italian, and to the countless versions told in the Italian dialects. And so the Fabulando collection of fairy tales has three subdivisions.
There is a first thread linking the tales depending on their injunction and quadrant. There is a second thread that links the tales depending on the section they belong to. These two threads remind us that we could look at fairy tales from many angles: each of them has its value and none of them could encompass all fairy tales.

1. People of Wonders. Italian Dialectal Fairy Tales
In this section there are some tales told in many Italian dialects and three tales from Italian territories with linguistic minorities (Catalan of Alghero, Sardinia; Calabrian Occitan or Guardiolo, spoken in Guardia Piemontese (Calabria); and Tabarchino, that owes its name to Tabarca, an Algerian town where a Ligurian colony lived, which was then transferred to  a little island off the southwest coast of Sardinia).
This section includes the tales Belindu the Monster, in Alghero Catalan, Little Chick-Pea  in Tabarchino, Thus Ended the Idiot in Umbrian-Latial, Flower and Flowerstem in the dialect of the Abruzzi and Marche, The Mammone Cat and The Marmotta Queen in Montalese dialect (Tuscany), The Dying Fairy's Will in Ciociaria (Lazio) dialect, Solver of Riddles, Solve this Riddle in Calabrian Occitan, The Lost Doll in Piedmontese, The White Ricotta in Calabrian, The Crystal Casket in Senese (Tuscany), Smithy Menico in the dialect of Friuli, Frog, Frog in Romanesco, Sfurtuna in Sicilian and Dauntless Little John in the Italian version by Italo Calvino.
We realized the Italian Dialectal e-books putting the dialectal storytelling beside the national Italian - or the English language - to propose some fairy tales coming from different Italian regions, but mainly to give through Fabulando the opportunity to taste and enjoy the vividness and the tenderness of Italian popular fairy tales. All the dialectal tales are translated in Italian, except Frog, Frog, in Romanesco, The Mammone Cat and The Crystal Casket (both in Tuscan dialects) because Italians, or those who know our language, understand them. Even if The Marmotta Queen is equally understandable, it has a parallel text in Italian by Italo Calvino. Our aim was to give in Fabulando a clear example of the linguistic and stylistic work carried out by the Italian writer on traditional Italian tales for his collection Fiabe italiane (1956) (Italian Folktales).
Our collection includes another fairy tale by Calvino, Dauntless Little John, which can be compared with another tale featuring Little John, Little John and the Shudder, common all over Europe as well as the version chosen and rewritten by Calvino. The two little Johns are equally dauntless, and they deal with similar adventures, but their tales go in quite different directions. Their tales are in the northeast quadrant, but Dauntless Little John starts with the Fork of the Possible Task, while Little John and the Shudder starts with the Forest of the Exile. Italo Calvino introduces the first tale of his collection, Dauntless Little John, without pointing out the difference between this and the other version. Calvino likes the imperturbable main character, who in his view shows a calm firmness dealing with the unknown. But Calvino does not see the link between this lack of fear and the final death of Little John. (To read other dialectal Italian fairy tales, see Fiabe italiane dialettali e alloglotte, website Adalinda Gasparini, Psicoanalisi e favole).
To see an annotated bibliography of the sources used by Italo Calvino for his Italian Folktales, with biographical notes about the collectors, see Percorsi di pensiero, by Claudia Chellini.
At the present time, some of the dialectal Italian tales in Fabulando (those here quoted with Italian titles)  have no English translation,  we apologize.

2. The World’s First Fairy Tales. Published in Italy from  the 16th to  the 17th century
The second section of our collection is Source of Wonders. Ancient Italian Fairy Tales from 16th to the 17th century. Here we have collected the first fairy tales published in the world, which  come mainly from The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories by Giambattista Basile (1634-36), where we find very famous tales (besides Cinderella, there is also Parsley, today better known as Rapunzel, the title that the Grimm Brothers gave it), and other little known tales that belong to the narrative heritage told in Italian dialects and in other European languages. Fabulando includes: The Seven Little Pigeons, The Three Animal Kings, The Raven, The Enchanted Doe, The Tale of the Ogre, Cat Cinderella, The Cockroach, The Mouse and the Cricket, Sweet Diamond Pie, Madmatt, Parsley and Violet. Basile includes in his collection also a version of Puss in Boots (the second to be published after Straparola). The protagonist of this version is still a she-cat, which will become a male cat in Perrault's version. Fabulando does not include Basile's version, but our Puss in Boots tells something about it in her story of her tale (Puss Tells her Story).
A century before The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories, Giovan Francesco Straparola published The Facetious Nights (1550-1553), a collection of novellas, which included some fairy tales that spread throughout Europe. This section of Fabulando presents three fairy tales by Straparola, Pooavola Doll, ancient version of The Golden Goose by the Grimm Brothers, L'Augel Belverde, an ancient version of Princess Belle-Etoille, and Pig King, an ancient version of Prince Marcassin, by Mme d'Aulnoy.

3. Europa in fabula. The World's Most Beloved Fairy Tales.
The most well-known and retold fairy tales are collected in this section. We chose these tales taking into account both their rich meaning and their philological value. The most beloved fairy tales in the world are the tales today recurrent in contemporary storytelling, particularly in films and television series. We decided to choose for our collection the versions written by the great European writers of this genre, first of all Charles Perrault and the Grimm Brothers. Their tales are intense and meaningful, and they were usually watered down by later storytellers.
In this section we have included Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the first version published by the Grimm Brothers in 1812, where the enemy is Snow White's mother, who will become her step-mother from the Grimm Brothers' second version of the tale onwards. We have also included Red Riding Hood, which in Perrault's version has no happy ending, because no hunter comes to save the girl and her grand-mother. We selected Little John and the Shudder, Hänsel and Gretel and The Frog Prince by the Grimm Brothers and Sleeping Beauty in the Wood by Charles Perrault. The latter tale continues after Beauty's awakening, as she is persecuted by her mother-in-law, the old queen. Charles Perrault retold the tale Sun, Moon and Talia by Giambattista Basile, which does not end with the prince finding Sleeping Beauty. Finally we included Master Cat or Puss in Boots by Perrault and Beauty and the Beast by Madame de Beaumont.
This section of our collection includes two very popular fairy tales that were retold from their most ancient versions, Cat Cinderella and Puss in Boots.
Our Cat Cinderella comes from the app-tale we put together from the versions by Giambattista Basile (the first version ever published, present in Fabulando, Cat Cinderella), from Charles Perrault, from Walt Disney and from other Italian popular versions, like La Cenerentola, collected in Florence (Imbriani, 1877). Our version follows also the Cinderella told by images by Arthur Rackham, one of his masterpieces.
We retold Puss in Boots from the tale written by Giovan Francesco Straparola (The Facetious Nights) which tells the story of Costantino Fortunato who inherits from his mother a she-cat who, thanks to her cunning, makes him beautiful and rich. Then we used Perrault's version, and the wonderfun illustrations by Walter Crane. This is the best known version of this tale.
Our e-book Little John and the Shudder includes the original version by the Grimm Brothers, and the Italian translation by Antonio Gramsci from The Prison Notebooks (1929-1932).

4. Migrant Stories. Tales without Borders
This section includes The Golden Eagle, a forteenth-century novella belonging to The Pecorone by Ser Giovanni, which is not a proper fairy tale but presents a narrative rythm and interesting motifs that evoke a fairy tale. Nevertheless, we chose this tale also for another reason. The Golden Eagle tells of an ancient battle where all the rising European nations are drawn up, proudly raising their coloured standards, with the neighing of the horses and the sound of the fifes and drums all around, which made it seem as if the world were full of thunder and lightning. The two opposing armies are fiercely fighting when the Pope forces them to make peace under threat of excommunication. Then the son and the daughter of the German Emperor marry the daughter and the son of the King of Aragon, to live happily forever after. May Europe be conscious and proud of its variegated banners and tales.
Fairy tales and stories are formed and transformed through a continuous face-to-face between peoples and cultures, through the violence of wars as well as through mutual enrichment in times of peace. Whoever annexes a corpus of fairy tales, or even a single story, to a particular language or culture, and  thinks that he has managed to appropriate it entirely, is wrong. Since the 19th century, many scholars have written about their migrations, between East and West, as well as between folk and educated storytellers. This Fabulando collection encompasses both very popular stories and less famous ones, to show the beauty which flows through all of them.
They may be very far from each other in space and time, but they also show amazing connections.  Fairy tales do not depend on any religion, nationality or ideology; nevertheless, they can easily wear the habits and customs of every people and can speak every language or dialect.  We would offer these Migrant Stories of ours as a small antidote to any form of racism. (CC)

Italian languageThe Mammone Cat
Peak of the Impossible Task
Southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

The core meaning of this fairy tale is made up of the three attempts to hinder the main actant,  Bella Caterina, and cause her ruination:
- Caterina's ugly mother and sister vex her in the hope of making her ugly; but she becomes even more beautiful;
- they send her to the fairies hoping that they would disfigure her with their scratching; instead, she gets rich gifts from them, and a star on her forehead;
 - they lock her into a vat and the ugly sister pretends to be Caterina so as to marry the king's son; but Caterina marries the prince instead, and he eliminates her rivals.

When Caterina must leave her house and enter the forest to go to the house of the fairies, she is scared, and weeps: the fairies might be enemies, even more dangerous than her mother and sister.
The feeling of a mother who unjustly obstructs one's own growth is a common experience, like the longing for a mother who could totally accept and understand us. A married woman often looks at her mother-in-law as to a evil rival, while her mother is her helper. When a female main actant meets ambivalent magical characters, she has to deal with her own equally ambivalent perception of her maternal representation. Through this experience of her inconscious ambivalence she finds herself at risk, but she can also get precious gifts.
Along the way, Caterina meets a poor old man, who asks her to look at his itchy head.Caterina stops and meets hos request. She kindly says that she sees on his head gold and pearls instead of lice. The old man is a paternal helper, who  lives near the forest, which is the realm of mother nature, and he knows something precious about the fairies of that realm. He gives Caterina valuable instructions about helping the kittens who live in the house of the fairies, about choosing poor ornaments instead of precious jewels, and about climbing gently up their crystal ladder. This is the way to appease the destructive side of the fairies and of the Mammone Cat. In folk fairy tales magic actants may be both harmful and helpful, it depends on the approach of the actant who meets them. (Gherardo Nerucci collected this tale in 1880 from an oral  storyteller).

In one charming episode of this tale the kittens go and tell the Mammone Cat how Caterina helped them. Doing housework represents in fairy tales taking care of the beings who live in a given place, cleaning up the house and providing nourishment. Here the story tells something about the feminine talent to make a house liveable and keep it that way, and in the first place one's own house/body, where physic and psychic fecundity dwell. In fairy tales the talent to stage a space for living beings, to nourish and clean, to rest and restore them, belongs to the female main actant as expression of her being grown-up. The ugly sister is not able to do the same, because she does not feel fear or pain when she is going to the fairies; she underestimates the trial, and does not listen to the poor old man. She beats the kittens instead of helping them, she breaks the crystal ladders and she asks for precious things instead of being pleased with humble gifts. While Caterina gets a star on her forehead, she gets a donkey's tail.

Caterina's shining beauty following her visit to the fairies attracts the king's son, who asks for her hand in marriage. The evil ugly mother and sister try to take for themselves what belongs to Caterina, and close her in a big barrel. The ugly sister is dressed as the bride, veiled to hide her face and tail, and led to the prince. He is about to take her with him to his palace, when he hears the kittens meow:

Meow mew, listen to the cats,
Meow mew, Beauty is in the barrel,
Meow mew, the ugly in the coach sat!

This happens also in the Grimm Brothers' Cinderella, Ashenputtel, when the prince is about to take a stepsister as his bride. Cinderella's little helpers, the doves, sing,

There they go, there they go!
There is blood on her shoe;
The shoe is too small,
Not the right bride at all!

The Mammone Cat, a popular character in Tuscan folk fairy tales, has a male name, but its sound is reminiscent of th word mamma; the name might then refer to Mammon, one of the devil's names, or even to the Arabic maimon, which means lucky, favourable. Caterina acted in the right way in the feminine realm, getting the best from the fairies. Instead of her missing father, two different helpers come to her aid: the lousy old man and the Mammone Cat with his meowing and singing kittens.
The king's son listens to the kittens as well as Caterina had listened to the old man, and he eliminates Caterina's rivals, who find themselves in the same barrel in which they had imprisoned her. The death of the ugly evil mother and sister means the final eradication of the envy that they represent.

There is something magic in a kitten, and in the tenderness we give to a pet and receive from it in our everyday life, a tenderness which may even soothe a hardship. A pet is a creature near to nature, to Mother Nature, and taking care of it we can to some extent take care of our wounded maternal side. Waiting for the time when our pain can speak, coming out of the silence of repression, when our bond with Mother Nature will find its word, the voice of a kitten may relieve our sorrow: meow mew... meow mew... (AG)

 Italian languageSolver of Riddles, Solve this Riddle
Peak of the Impossible Task
Northwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

Idem praedicatum de pietate Perus existimetur, quae patrem suum Mycona consimili fortuna adfectum parique custodiae traditum iam ultimae senectutis velut infantem pectori suo admotum aluit. Haerent ac stupent hominum oculi, cum huius facti pictam imaginem vident, casusque antiqui condicionem praesentis spectaculi admiratione renovant, in illis mutis membrorum liniamentis viva ac spirantia corpora intueri credentes. Quod necesse est animo quoque evenire, aliquanto efficaciore pictura litterarum vetera pro recentibus admonito recordari. Let the same be considered as predicated concerning the piety of Pero, whose father Myco was in a like sorry plight and equally under prison guard. A man in extreme old age, she put him like a baby to her breast and fed him. Men’s eyes are riveted in amazement when they see the painting of this act and renew the features of the long bygone incident in astonishment at the spectacle now before them, believing that in those silent outlines of limbs they see living and breathing bodies. This must needs happen to the mind also, admonished to remember things long past as though they were recent by painting, which is considerably more effective than literary memorials.
(Valerius Maximus, Factorum et dictorum memorabilium libri novem, 5.4.ext.1; http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/valmax5.html, 26/07/15; accessed 26/07/15) (Valerius Maximus, Memorable Doings and sayings. Edited and translated by D. R. Shackleton Bailey. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England: Harvard University Press 2000. pp. 501-503)

Roman Charity is the story of Pero, daughter of Myco, who secretely breastfeeds her father who has been incarcerated and sentenced to death by starvation. A jailer finds her out, but her action moves the prison officers. She thus wins the release of her father. The daughter breastfeeding her father is the subject of a Pompeian fresco (Pompei, Micon e Pero), and later many other artists painted this scene, like Peter Paul Rubens and Caravaggio. In The Seven Works of Mercy Caravaggio painted Pero breastfeeding Myco, representing two of the Seven Works of Mercy: Feeding the Hungry and Visiting Prisoners.

In Solver of Riddles, Solve this Riddle the main female actant, like the ancient Roman Pero, breastfeeds her own incarcerated father and wins his release. While the Roman story stresses the daughter's charity, the Occitan tale stresses a traditional motif, linking the riddle, the oedipal situation and the irreducible ambiguity of language, a motif which here dominates the theme of breast feeding (mother/daughter) and suckling (child/father). Let us remember that Oedipus answered the riddle of the Sphinx concerning the succession of generations. Man is the simple solution, but Man's passage through his different ages is not a simple process. The hero will tragically learn this. 
In the core of Fabulando, something apparently simple - a fairy tale - and something very complex - the Greek tragedy - turn into each other, entailing birth-growth and ageing-death, to permit and hinder the transfering of inheritance.
The riddle-solving Marquis of this tale of ours, believes in his own intelligence, but he crashes into the ambiguity of language when he faces the main female actant.

Solver of riddles, son of a prince and great lord, solve my riddle:
he used to be my father, now he is my child;
and my child is married to my mother
(e-book, p. 9)

After the release is won by the female actant, another prisoner comes to ask the Marquis a different riddle, similar to other riddles, which recur with little variations throughout many popular tales:

He shot what he saw and killed what he did not see, he ate both born and unborn flesh, cooked with old words, and he drank water that was neither in the sky nor on the ground (ibid., p. 13).

The marquis tries to understand, but he cannot, and so he releases the prisoner and stops promising his subjects to release a prisoner everytime he cannot solve a riddle. The power-bearer here pays less dearly than Oedipus for the disclosure of the limits of his intelligence.
Let us remember another tale, where a father-king who took his daughter as his wife wards off her suitors by imposing on them a riddle which both conceals and reveals its own solution. It is told in the Latin novel History Apollonii Regis Tyri (5th century AD), the Old English vernacular translation of which, Apollonius of Tyre (11th century), is known as the first English novel.
Later, Shakespeare told the same story in Pericles, Prince of Tyre (see also: History Apollonii Regis Tyri, website Adalinda Gasparini, Psicoanalisi e favole).
Let us read the riddle as it is presented by Shakespeare:

I am no viper, yet I feed
On mother's flesh which did me breed.
I sought a husband, in which labour
I found that kindness in a father:
He's father, son, and husband mild;
I mother, wife, and yet his child.
How they may be, and yet in two,
As you will live, resolve it you.
(Act 1, Sc. 1, 64-71)

Our seemingly simple tale invites us to think about a subject with powerful roots. It survives in a little community of speakers whose story is at the same time fascinating, adventurous and tragic. In the 13th century, Waldesian Occitan communities fled from the Piedmont because of religious persecution. They migrated to a number of Calabrian villages: the name of the village where this tale was collected is Guardia Piemontese (previously called La Gardia, andGuardia dei Valdi). The Waldesians lived there in peace for about three centuries, alongside the local Catholic communities, until they joined the Protestant Reformation, as did the Piedmont Waldesian communities. In 1561 a Catholic cardinal, who would become Pope Pius V, called for a crusade against the Calabrian Waldesians and slaughtered men, women and children. The few survivors were forced to convert to Catholicism, and they could only speak their "Guardiolo" dialect among themselves, inside their houses. Catholic friars were sent to keep them under close surveillance, and for centuries nobody remembered that there were people who spoke Occitan in Southern Italy, not even the other Waldesian communities. In the final years of the 19th century, somebody 'discovered' those few people who still spoke a language which originated from the ancient Langue d'Oc, even though it was very heavily influenced by the Calabrian dialect.

The cultural policy of the Italian state, especially during Fascism, was aimed at the elimination of dialects in order to spread the use of the national language. Nevertheless, nowadays we are finally witnessing a resurgence of interest in this particular dialect, which resonates with our contemporary passion for any species at risk of extinction. Does not this story of the Calabrian Waldesian Occitan community remind us of the incredible oppression suffered by many main actants in fairy tales? It could put together three injunctions: Tower of the Segregation, Sailing Ship of the Black Curse, and  Gibbet of the Death Sentence. (AG)

Italian languageFrog, Frog
Peak of the Impossible Task
Northeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

A king has three sons whom he wishes to marry off. He gives each son a golden ball to throw; wherever their ball will land, there they will have to find their bride. The Grimm Brothers wrote The three feathers, a tale that tells of a king who tests his three sons in order to choose his successor; this king blows three feathers in the air so as to indicate to the princes the direction of their research. In a Russian folktale the prince Ivan is looking for Campestre Bianco.  He comes across an old man in a dark forest, and asks him for help. The old man calls onto a myriad of birds, but they do not know anything. Then the old man says: "Come now! Take this little ball of thread, throw it and lead your horse in the direction of the rolling ball" (Afanasjev, p. 208). In fairy tales these odd methods always lead to a happy ending for the main actant who follows them. This is a truth that we can experience ourselves, because to follow a desire means to try to complete an impossible task; we must go on even when reason and wisdom would stop us. It is not a matter of magic, we simply have to acknowledge that the geometry of life is not simple at all; sometimes the sense appears like a sudden grace, and we are able to solve a problem just when we are thinking of giving it up.

Which is the right method to find a wife or a husband? The method of the king is not reasonable, but then again nobody could really answer this question. We suggest that the fairy tale's random method may significate the real unpredictability entailed in every marriage.
The golden balls lead the elder sons to two fine wives.  By contrast the ball belonging to Nicolino, the youngest brother, falls into a ditch. Nicolino wonders who to call, and half-mockingly calls out to a frog, and the frog answers, "Who is calling me?", "Nicolino who reluctantly loves you". "If you do not love me", replies the frog, "you will love me when you see how beautiful I am".  The king has no objection about these three wives. He proposes three tasks, and the girl who will complete them better than the others will be queen. The succession is the explicit issue in this tale, and it is an impossible task for Nicolino, who cannot guess how a frog could ever spin, cook or raise a puppy. Nevertheless his frog does the best work, and so he gets the throne. The day of the wedding comes, and everybody laughs at Nicolino who going to the palace with a frog for a bride. The shame-filled Nicolino is waiting for the frog, who is getting dressed. But out of the dressing room comes a beautiful girl.  Nicolino tells her that he was looking for a frog. "I am the frog!", anwers the beauty, and explains to the incredulous Nicolino that her curse ended because he accepted to marry her before knowing her hidden beauty.

This frog is a fairy tale sister of the Frog Prince; on one side they look harmless and slimy, but on the other they are fairy creatures, since they can speak and complete impossible tasks for the prince or the princess who will marry them.
In fairy tales the main actant is almost always the youngest brothers or sisters: they are despised for their looks or persecuted for their beauty; they invite the listener and the reader of their tale to listen to her/his own humble hidden side, which might enrich her/his life. We are not thinking of a certain symbolic meaning, we are merely suggesting to look at the relation between nice and noble actants and vile and wretched actants. Fairy tales wave different threads, they link creatures very far from each other, they ask the actant to walk, to work, to suffer without renouncing her/his task, commitment and desire.

It is however interesting to think of the traditional symbolic meaning of the frog; it is an metamorphic amphibious animal, capable of remembering the endless movement of life. Frogs also refer to fertility. The magic in fairy tales might refer simply to the way in which life does not flow according to our command. If we follow our own desire,we are able to go on even without precisely controlling our movements, even when we have no more certainties than the princes following a ball of thread, a feather or a golden ball. A hovering feather does not give a clear direction, but it moves itself in the air, like birds and angels. The rolling balls are golden, or they hold together a very long thread; the vagueness of their rolling movement depends on their spherical shape and they are spheres like the sun and the moon. (AG; edited with the assistance of DG)

  Italian languageThe Marmotta Queen
Peak of the Impossible Task
northeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

The title of this tale is dedicated to its female actant, endowed with a strong determination and a sumptuous palace. But the main actant of The Marmotta Queen is Little Andrew, the youngest child of the King of Spain. Unlike his brothers, he fulfils the task of finding the medicine to heal his father from blindness. This is an impossible task, since one has to go and find some magic water from the Isle of Tears, the cursed realm of the Marmotta Queen. This island is very far away, beyond an ocean infested by dreadful huge white bears. Therefore, the injunction of this tale is the Peak of the Impossible Task and we find it in the northeast quadrant, since the father imposes this task on the male main actant.
Italo Calvino, introducing his Italian Folktales, defines The Marmotta Queen as,

…the most Ariosto-like tale to come from the mouth of a man of the people. The story is an uncertain byproduct of the sixteenth-century epic, not in this plot (which in its broad outline is reminiscent of a well-known folktale) not in his fancyful geography (which also dates back to the ballads of chivalry) but in its manner of narrating, of creating magic through the wealth of descriptions of gardens and palaces (much more complete and literary in the original text than in my own highly abridged reconstruction, where I sought to avoid any appreciable divergence from the general tone of the present book. (Calvino 1980, p. xxiv)

Calvino’s retelling of The Marmotta Queen is thus a highly abridged reconstruction, in comparison with the original text. Following the guidelines of the Fabulando project, namely pleasure of storytelling and philological rigour, we offer side by side Calvino’s tale and the Tuscan one, collected by Gherardo Nerucci in the 19th century (see the e-book of The Marmotta Queen). The different lengths of the two versions show how Calvino cuts out many parts of the original tale. The reader can thus see that the language of the Tuscan tale gets its liveliness both from the concreteness of popular expression and from the register of the phantastical. This mixture moves the audience's feelings, while the language of Calvino’s version is plain, scarcely modulated, missing broad descriptions and curious details.  When Italo Calvino published his Italian Folktales
in 1956, he realized an important cultural operation: he spread the Italian dialectal fairy-tale heritage throughout Italy. Before this work, the Italian fairy tales were only published in dialectal collections, which were – and are – little known, because the researchers wrote them down in many dialects. The dialects are now spoken by the oldest generations, while the younger ones use them less and less. To retell them in the national language made the knowledge of the Italian tales accessible to all readers, both Italian and foreign, who could more easily translate Calvino’s versions than the dialects ones.

Nevertheless, we would say that he made a stylistic choice whose direction runs opposite to the one of the great
19th century collectors, from which Calvino, expressing his admiration for them, drew his fairy tales. Over a century ago, these scholars tried to highlight the linguistic and cultural contribution of every Italian region, linking texts collected in different and distant places, showing amazing ties between various narrative forms, writing down the oral language and annotating its linguistic peculiarity. Calvino chose to retell these stories in only one language, the same for all fairy tales. We do not mean his choice of Italian language instead of Italian dialects. Rather, we are noticing that what he himself defines as the general tone of the present book is couched in terms of a register that annuls the differences between the narrative structures and linguistic tones that characterize the various fairy tales told in various dialects.
Considering this variety as the heart of the Italian cultural treasure, we put in our e-books side by side the original text of the Italian dialectal tales and our English translation, aiming to maintain the peculiarity of every tale. The readers who are able to read the original version, and those curious enough to try, will enjoy it. And anyway, the English translation opens a door to relish the varied narrative and linguistic world of the fairy tale.

 Italian languageThe Dying Fairy's Will
Peak of the Impossible Task
southeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

This tale from Ciociaria begins with the death of a fairy, which is a rather rare event in wonderland. Before dying she dictates her last will to her son. He should marry his three sisters to the first three men he would see passing by the house, and then he too should get married. The main male actant of this tale offers his sisters to three humble characters who take them away; they soon reveal themselves to their brides as a pig, a pigeon and a skeleton respectively. The lwill of his fairy mother seems absurd and ill omened to her son; he is not happy to have given his sisters to those strange men, and he becomes quite unhappy when an old woman puts a curse on him. He cannot get any rest until he finds Margarita bella. This is an impossible task, like the commitment of the main male actant of The Three Animal Kings, because the protagonist has no indications on how to find Margarita Bella and his three sisters.
There is va lot at stake, since our main actant must also free his three brothers-in-law from their curses so as to make possible the return of his three sisters from their isolation, and free Margarita Bella from the ogre who has imprisoned her and eventually to free himself from the spell that prevents him from resting. In this fairy tale there are many magic elements, and the fairy's son, as well as his three brothers-in-law, has to deal with them, if he is to dissolve so many curses. At the end the ogre disappears, the three odd husbands transform themselves into three princes, the will of the fairy is carried out, and the curses are ended.
The ogre imposes three tasks on the protagonist. Let us concentrate on the third one. The ogre permits him to spend the night with Margarita bella but he will devour the two lovers if he will not find a newborn male baby the following morning. The new couple will defeat the ogre only by proving their exceptional fertility. Their helper is the skeleton brother-in-law, who brings them a beautiful male baby before dawn.
The realm of the magic characters is a supernatural world that echoes the world of nocturnal dreams, of delirium and of the underworld. It has something to do with our life, it stops us in our tracks, urging us to grow up, to become human, free from our parental injunctions, and thus finally fruitful in our own right.

The injunction of this tale is the Peak of the Impossible Task, that recurs several times and is in the southeast quadrant, since the first task comes from the fairy mother of the main male actant. (AG)

  Italian languageThe Seven Little Pigeons
Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment
southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

The main female actant, Cianna, wishes to find her seven brothers who left their home when she was born, due to an oversight of their mother's midwife. The sister finally finds her brothers that are in service of a misogynous ogre. The happiness of their encounter does not last for a long time, because the seven brothers turn into seven little pigeons, due to a mistake of Cianna. She then decides to find the way to make her brothers human again.  To do this she must find the house where Time lives, because he knows the secret of this metamorphosis. Along her hard long journey, Cianna listens to creatures asking for her help and giving her precious instructions to get the house of Time. Then she reaches her goal: she makes her brothers human again and grants the wishes of the creatures that she met along her way. The same creatures help her and her brothers again to overcome some hurdles on their way back.

This tale may be one of the most beautiful fairy tales written by Basile, both for its complex and coherent plot and for the fairy tale's ethics that it clearly displays: the main actant frees herself by freeing others, every other creature she meets along the way.

Il Gran Basile presents in this fairy tale a long interesting list of predators and little birds, told by the seven brothers of Cianna to reproach her after their metamorphosis. We present an IMAGE of all these birds, and a TABLE with various Italian and English translations of the names listed by Basile, from which it is possible to open their photograph and hear their verse. (To open them, in the website Psicoanalisi e favole of Adalinda Gasparini, click the following words: IMAGE, TABLE)

This fairy tale has a female main actant and starts with an implicit maternal injunction, so we find it in the South West quadrant. Its injunction is the Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment, since Cianna chooses by herself to make amends for the involuntary mess due to her and her mother's oversights. (AG)

  Italian languageViolet
Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment
northwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

The younger daughter of a poor man is beautiful, and the prince falls in love with her. His aim is to have her, but Violet, the main actant, is subjected neither to her family, which represents common sense, nor to the power of the son of the king. When the prince kindly greets her, she answers asserting her kind of virtue: "Bonní, figlio de lo re! io saccio chiú de te!" (Good day, King's son! I know more than you! [Violet, e-book, p. 9]). Violet tells to the regal suitor that he cannot subdue her.
Common sense, represented by the father and the sisters of Violet, would stop her disrespectful attitude, which could ruin them, but they cannot stop Violety's challenge. When Violet lives with a tailor aunt, the prince, thanks to his power, persuades her to help him to get Violet, but the girl understands the trick and outwits him again.

Violet, armed only with her word and her nimble resolution, could be the character of a realistic story, where magic comes on the stage when she falls in the garden of an astonishing ogre, who thinks that the beautiful girl was magically born from himself. He keeps her as his beloved daughter and gives her some fairies as teachers. These fairies could look like feminists, because they support the resolution of Violet not to submit herself. The prince tries in any way to show to Violet that he knows more than she does, but she scorns him at every turn. Then he decides to marry her, since this is the only way to possess her. The ogre and the fairies help Violet, just as any fairy-tale magic helper gives aid to the main actant who is looking for his/her own path. The main actants in fairy tales do not sacrifice anything to the idols of common sense or to powerful characters. These may represent invisible and unforeseeable talents, life resources emerging just when a subject follows his/her desire, ready to risk even her/his life. Violet cannot count on her poor father or on her fearful and envious sisters, but she has on her side the paternal tender ogre and the proto-feminist fairies. She achieves the impossible goal to be at the same level of  the prince, and even to overcome him.

The regal nuptials are the happy ending of the version written by Giambattista Basile, which we chose for our e-book. However, we remember a folk version of this fairy tale whic continues after the wedding. Violet knows that her prince cannot bear his defeat, and she foresees that he will take his cruel revenge on their wedding night. Violet knows that a man may marry a woman to possess her, and that to kill his wife can be his extreme act of supremacy on her. Therefore, she gets from her fairies a sugar doll looking like her, and she puts this doll in the wedding bed, and hides herself behind the curtains. The prince comes swearing at Violet, who looks deeply asleep, and claims his right to revenge, then he fatally stabs the doll thinking to kill Violet. When he decides to drink her blood he tastes the sweet liquor of the sugar doll, and he changes his mind: how can he have killed such a sweet girl? His regret and his heartache are so unbearable that he decides to stab himself, but Violet comes out and offers him all the sweetness that he thought to have lost.
This fairy tale suggest something about male violence and about the possibility to tame it turning it back to love. We must however know that it is very difficult to get this kind of happy ending, if we have not on our side a tender ogre as a father and some proto-feminist fairies.

The injunction of this tale is the Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment, because since the first lines of the story the subject chooses her goal. She opposes also to her father, who tries to limit her desire. Violet belongs to the northwest quadrant, being a female main actant who fights against male actants - her father and the king's son - who want her submission and personify paternal power. 
When the prince eventually surrenders, he leaves his royal power and acts like a young actant, giving up his hierarchical power. (AG)

Italian languageThe Golden Eagle
Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment
northeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

The wish of the main actant, Arighetto, son of the German Emperor, is to win Lena's love. To approach her, the beautiful daughter of the King of Aragon, he builds a golden eagle and hides himself inside it. When the King gives the golden eagle to his daughter, Arighetto comes out and speaks to the princess. The princess falls in love with him and they secretely leave Spain to go to Arighetto's Empire. Then the King of Aragon declares war on the German Emperor and they call their allies to a war that involves all the European peoples.

This tale shows a middle age battle, full of flags, weapons, sounds of fifes and drums, fierce duels and carnages; and chivalry always rules throughout. At the end an intevention of the pope makes peace between the enemies and we have two weddings: Arighetto with Lena, and Princivale, brother of Lena, with the daughter of the German Emperor. The tale remembers ancient epic wars, and the gracefulness of courtly love or fine amor. This 14th  century Italian tale could be an introduction to the knowledge of Europe, its nations, its wars, its peace.

The injuntion here is the Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment since the main actant decides by himself to follow his desire, the realization of which looks impossible. The Golden Eagle is in the northeast quadrant since the main actant is Arighetto while his antagonist is the King of Aragon, a paternal character. (AG)

  Italian languageSmithy Menico
Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment
northeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

Jesus and his Apostles arrive to the house of Smithy Menico, travelling incognito. Jesus sends St.Peter to beg for something and the poor smith gives him one coin. Then He sends St. Paul, and the smith gives him another coin. The third time Jesus himself goes an ask alms, and Smithy Menico gives him his third and last coin. Whith his three coins he could buy some bread, a cigar and the oil for his lamp, and he has nothing more, so he can neither light his room, nor smoke a cigar, nor something to dine. But Jesus sends again Saint Peter to the smith to grant three desires of his. Smithy Menico does not ask wealth, palaces or youth; he asks that his violin, his stool, and his fig tree get magic powers. Some time passes, and Death and Devil come one after another to take him, but Smithy Menico blocks them by his magic gifts and by his slyness.
This main actant fulfils the impossible human aim par excellence, since Death or Devil cannot take him.
After a very long life, the smith decides to go and see the Hereafter, but St. Peter bans him from entering heaven, saying that Smithy Menico wasted the Lord's gift, because he did not ask for the eternal salvation for his soul. Then the Angels of purgatory to reject him, and Smithy Menico knock on the hell's doors. The devil who met him on the earth then advises all the devils to keep out Smithy Menico, because he is much more evil than themselves. Smithy Menico goes now back to the heaven's doors, and taking advantage of a distraction of St. Peter, he throws his jacket inside, and sits on it. If we go there, is told at the end of this fairy tale, we could  see Smithy Menico still sitting on his jacket, holding his magic violin, with which he could make dance even the saints.

In other fairy tales it is told of actants who do not fear anything, nor death. The actant of one of these tales is Dauntless Little John, who is not afraid because he simply does not know death: for this reason, he dies as soon as he sees his own shadow. The actant of another tale, Little John and the Shudder, does not know death, but he feels that he misses something, and goes around the world looking for shudder. He happens to marry a princess, but the happy ending only comes when he finally feels goose bumps.
Smithy Menico knows very well death, and he is so scared, that he chooses his three magic gifts to become able to win it. Smithy Menico is a laic parable as well as a fairy tale; telling that overcoming death and fear is an impossible commitment.But it tells also that one can try to get it, and if he succeeds, he is free from any masters, here and in the hereafter. He is neither alive nor dead, neither forgiven nor guilty. He represents the eternal human desire to cross his boundaries.

The fairy tale of Smithy Menico is in the North East quadrant, because St. Peter represents during the whole tale the antagonist paternal character, disapproving the choices of our cunning fellow Smithy Menico. The injunction of this tale is the Labyrint of the Impossible Commitment. (AG)

Italian languageMaster Bëninhë
Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment
southeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

On the website of The Royal Society Publishing House we can read something about a piece of research  (Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales. Sara Graça da Silva, Jamshid J. Tehrani, 2016), that tells of how some fairy-tales were spread many centuries before their recording. Notably, the story of The Smith and the Devil - the type of this story of Master Bëninhë - who is a fairy-tale brother of Smithy Menico - has been told since the Bronze Age (3300-1200 b. C.).
Let us note that among people without writing - and without codified literature - the narrative patterns collected by travelers and scholars are at the same time religious stories, myths, fairy-tales, apologues, and moralistic tales. We think of fairy tales as a specific genre - notably, European fairy-tales, that colonizers and missionaries spread all over the world - were born in the 16th century, which is the century of the Protestant Reformations and of the Catholic Roman Counter-Reformation.
The method followed by the authors of the research cited above does not take into account any difference between  fairy tales, legends, myths, apologues, and religious stories - narrated as true and identifying a certain people in a certain period. It is however interesting to follow a narrative type through a biological method - which is mainly applied to understand the human migrations through DNA.
What we can know for sure is that the stories of the human being who forges metals have been, since the dawn of time, associated with the human ability to fool or cheat supernatural powers, like the Devil and Death. Technical expertise and intelligence - released from common thought, often frightened by the unknown (is there anything more unknown than Death?) - are at the heart of our human condition, paradoxical or miraculous, perennially exiled from grace and yet able to deserve it by overcoming apparently insurmountable obstacles.

Homo faber fortunae suae, as a Latins said: the blacksmith represents the man who, thanks to his power over fire, can forge metals. The first human beings did it with metals from meteorites - their origin was celestial, as in the latin word sidera, from which the English word sideritic - then with metals from the ground, extracted from Mother Earth's womb. The master smith works what he extracts with his own tools - and so he is a  maker - smith, faber - of his own destiny. 
Coming back to our fairy tale, Master Bëninhë - benigno, benign  well disposed, nomen est omen - in a rainy night hosts a whole group of wayfarers, without knowing that they are Jesus, the Master, St. Peter and other disciples. He warms them, feeds them and quenches their thirst: feeding the hungry is one of the seven works of mercy. Nor would he ask for anything in return, if it were not for the suggestion of St. Peter. But unlike the magical items mostly requested and obtained in fables, what Master Bëninhë asks and gets is only to multiply the duration of his life: he does not seek any dominion over objects or other living beings. It seems that Master Bëninhë shows us a difficult and luminous truth: the true good, the only one, is life itself.

Thanks to his magical objects, the master blacksmith multiplies his life eight times, before following Death, this time without jokes, when Master Jesus sends Death for the third time to bring him away from this world. This ancient homo faber appears to us as a magnificent homo laicus, not only when we see that for master Bëninhë the greatest good of life is life itself, but also when we see how he behaves in the after-life. Simpler - perhaps also more elegant - than his Fabulando brother, Smithy Menico, Master Bëninhë is not blasphemous, nor does he ignore his own limits. Jesus Christ - named as the Master, capital letter - undoubtedly knows how the blacksmith Bëninhë could use them. The blacksmith Bëninhë - master with the small letter -, who bends metals with fire, stands in front of the Master with all the dignity that a human being can express. He handles the fire that Prometheus stole for him from the gods. The dignity of our little blacksmith is made of the same stuff of the great literary subject that has enjoyed and still enjoys a universal and uninterrupted fortune: Nobody, Odysseus, Ulysses.

Master Bëninhë is a fairy tale, not a sapiential story, only a fairy tale belonging to the literary genre that appeared in the century of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, as we said above. Nonetheless, the way this main actant of a fairy tale tells us that the greatest good of life is life itself, moves and cheers us up more than the exhortation of any apologist or sapiential story..
Someone, a blacksmith generous and never greedy, who recognizes divine power, was able to forge his destiny, asking and obtaining for himself a part of divine power: power to repel Death and the Devil, to extend life - he multiplies its duration by eight - to enter Paradise fooling Saint Peter.
If Master Bëninhë is entitled - in the name of God! - to enter Paradise thanks to his magic rucksack, St. Peter, who has forgotten the third gift obtained by the blacksmith, may lament his own simple-mindedness. This is St. Peter's character, which is the ordinary folk character, who often forgets things that people like our master blacksmith never forget. We risk an analogy, seeing in St. Peter together with the master blacksmith a couple descending from the great mythical couple of the titanic brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus. If St. Peter forgot that the backpack of master Bëninhë had been enchanted, this forgetfulness of his is not more serious than that which, according to the Gospels, made him forget his Master, when he denied Jesus three times in the night when his Master was tortured.
God, the Master, loves to play with the master, who in turn plays well thanks to the divine spark of intelligence, just as the Master loves the man who repudiated Him, because he was weak and afraid. Jesus appointed St Peter, the a common man, his heir on earth and porter of Paradise. The simple St. Peter does not understand this taste for the game shared by his Master and by a human master, but he has to accept it, together with master Bëninhë entering Paradise.

This story could be understood as a hymn to life, which corresponds to the hymn to the life of the community that has handed it down to us, the Occitans of Guardia Piemontese, in Calabria.
After escaping from Piedmont, their place of origin, during the persecutions of the Waldensians in the 12th century, these Protestants openly manifested their religion centuries later, at the time of the Reformation, to undergo a short time later persecution during the Counter-Reformation. The few who were left alive, converted by force,were forbidden from professing their religion and speaking their language, and were forgotten. Nonetheless, the surviving members of the small Protestant community kept their traditions alive, until a demologue - as was te name for researchers of folk traditions in the late 19th century - recognized the amazing presence of Occitan speakers in Calabria. The damnatio memoriae of the Counter Reformation period was not successful, despite a Jesuit monastery being erected nearby, whose friars could use a peephole that opened from the outside into the houses of the descendants of the Protestants to check that nobody was contravening the rules imposed by Catholic authority. (AG, 04/02/2018)

Italian languageThe Three Animal Kings
Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment
southeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

Tittone, a prince, is the main actant of this fairy tale. He takes on the impossible commitment of finding his three sisters who had left the realm before his birth. Three animal kings forced the king to give them his daughters to marry, and they took them so far away, that nobody had never had any news about them.
After a long way, Tittone finds his sisters, one after the other, who are happy to see and host him in their husbands' wonderful palaces. Their husbands, who are a hawk, a deer and a dolphin, give him a magic present taking it from their own skin when he takes his leave. They endow him with a feather, a hair and a scale, saying that he should use them to get their aid when he will not know what else to do. Along the way Tittone sees a beautiful princess who asks for his help; because a dreadful dragon holds her captive. Tittone falls in love at first sight with the princess, and he calls on the three animal kings for help. Thanks to their magic powers, they defeat and kill the dragon, free the princess, and eventually destroy the awful place where the princess was imprisoned. The happy ending of this tale, one of the most popular tales all over Europe, consists of four happy nuptials of the youths, with the four couples of their royal parents who had thought to have lost their successors forever. 

The injunction of this fairy tale is the Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment. The main male actant decides to leave by himself; however he answers to an implicit maternal request; the mother queen gave her daughters three identical rings to give them the possibility of recognizing their relatives; she gives her son the same ring when he leaves to look for his sisters. Therefore the tale is located in the southeast quadrant, as is The Dying Fairy's Will, which has the same plot and the same quadrant as The Three Animal Kings, but a different injuction. Tittone, as we said, decides to leave by himself, while the male main actant of The Dying Fairy's Will embarks on his quest after the spell of an old woman. (AG)

Italian languageRomany Violet
Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment
northwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

If you read the English translation of this fairy tale, you can only catch a glimpse of the Romany heritage which makes this tale different from the same type of popular fairy tales belonging to the Italian or the European traditions. Violet has its prototype in Violet by Giambattista Basile, and if you would like to feel something of the Romany tradition you should read the Romany text.
The story of the cunning peasant girl, who is able to best the king in the administration of justice and to win his anger with a lovely ruse, reminds us of the novella of Griselda. If the heroin of the hundredth novella of Boccaccio is endowed with a superhuman patience, Violet is endowed with a superhuman cunning, and the same ultra-capacity of Griselda not to oppose frontally the male ruler, her husband, who does not tolerate being contradicted by her in the exercise of his kingly power. Her lovely cunning reminds us of the ending of the popular versions of Violetta, missing in Basile's. The main female actant knows that her suitor married her out of the desire for revenge, because she has never yielded to him. Therefore, she puts in her place in the marriage bed a doll made of sugar and filled with honey. The king, still angry for not having been able to defeat her, stabs the doll, and licks her blood on the blade. But when he tastes such sweetness  he repents and regrets killing such a sweet wife. He would kill himself, but his bride jumps out of hiding and runs to embrace him. Therefore they live happily ever after.  (See in Fabulando the appendix that we added to the end of Basile's Violet. See also, in the collection of Giuseppe Pitrè the Sicilian fairy tale on line La grasta di lu basilicò).

The main actant is a female and her action is related to her father - who does not understand her - and to her husband: therefore, we see it in the southwest quadrant.
Its injunction is the Labyrinth of the impossible commitment because her action depends on her choice more than on the male character's actions, as in Basile's Violet. (AG)

Italian languageCatarina the Wise
Labyrinth of the Impossible Commitment
northwest quadrant

Map of the Tale

The Prince, husband of Catarina the Wise, introduces their fairy tale

I had gone to the school of Catarina the Wise with all my good will, and I thought she would feel honored to have the Crown Prince among her pupils. And instead she gave me a slap when I was unable to answer her first question. I, a man, a prince of royal blood, could not let slip such an affront by the daughter of a merchant. If she had repented, I would have forgiven her, but she threatened to beat me again! She would obey me, by force if not for love. And so, I married her and locked her down in the underground icehouse, but she still did not repent, as if she did not feel the cold and hunger. I could not understand how she could resist there, in the underground icehouse.
Maybe she had contrived a way to resist without eating. And so, I left for Naples, then for Genoa, then for Venice, trying to forget Catarina. But wherever I went, I always found a beautiful lady who looked exactly like her, and that's why I fell in love with those ladies and married them. With these women, I sired three children. In those days, in the realm of fairy tales, we crown princes could do that, didn't you know? But as much as I could take three wives, and keep Catarina in my icehouse jail, I could not tame her.
Every time I returned to my palace I went to ask Catarina if she had repented, but she always answered no, and every time she was more beautiful and witty than ever.
I had decided to marry a princess from England, but right at the start of the wedding Catarina appeared and introduced to me our three children, two princes, Napoli and Genova, and a princess, Venezia. Oh dear! Catarina had always been my wife,  whereas
I thought I had married three different women! She was really wise, and I, in order to have her love and to love her in return, resigned myself not to command her. In fairy tales, equality between males and females, wives and husbands, nobles and bourgeois, has existed for centuries. They told me that now this equality is a common right: there is no longer any need to fight for it, as Catarina did, traveling throughout Italy on those slender and fast brigantines. But is it really true?
(English translation by AG, from Sorgente di meraviglie. Fiabe antiche e popolari nei diversi idiomi d'Italia. Volume I: Sicilia. A cura di Claudia Chellini e Adalinda Gasparini. Foschi Editore: Forlì 2018. ll principe commenta la fiaba di Caterina la sapiente, pp.118-119)

When the utopia of Humanism and Renaissance set, and Protestant Reforms together with Catholic Counter-Reformation spread all over Europe, the freedom obtained by women disappeared, but found shelter in the new-born literary genre of fairy tales. We find an ancient version of Catarina the Wise in The Facetious Nights of Giovan Francesco Straparola, the first book printed in Europe including modern fairy tales. Straparola could be a nome de plume for a delegate of the powerful Venetian Republic who had spent many years in a Near East Arab country, and he could have known stories belonging to One Thousand Nights and One Night. In the Arabic collection you may meet a Muslim demon, a jinn, ready to serve good Muslims. The Devil of the fairy tale of Straparola has a concern for the woman he carries from Florence to Flanders that is absolutely uncommon for a Catholic devil: nevertheless it might come from the Arabic presence in Sicily, where they reigned from nineth to eleventh century. (See also, in the website Psicoanalisi e favole: Isabella and  Ortodosio, Night the Seventh, the First Fable) (AG)

Italian languageRed Riding Hood
Fork of the Possible Task
southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

Does anyone know the previous version of this fairy tale, by Perrault, with no hunter, where the girl ends in the belly of the wolf for ever after? Perrault wrote also a conclusion, a warning to girls, not to give in to the lure of their suitors, who threaten their chastity. Red Riding Hood should not stop to listen to her wolf, and good girls should not listen to their suitors, who are more dangerous when they look polite and courteous.
This edifying morality does not deplete the rich meaning of this popular tale, misunderstood by a pedagogical interpretation that looks at the wolf as a paedophile.

Little Red Riding Hood defines herself by her name and her red garment, and by her movement into the female element. The girl never comes out of the maternal range; her mother sends her to her grandmother, and her path she is supposed to follow goes into the wood, the realm of Mother Nature. The task looks possible: simply bringing a cake and some butter to a grandmother, but in this maternal world there is a devouring beast. The wolf here represents the destructive side of the Mother. We could think of the Indian goddess Kali, or of Lilith in the Jewish tradition; we could think of so many mother or stepmothers, who in fairy tales try to get rid of their daughters as soon as they grow up and cast a shadow on their supremacy. We should also remember that Mother Earth is the goddess that gives food and life, but she also incorporates dead bodies. Freud wrote that the man meets the woman in three forms: the mother, the wife and the earth; it is the third that take him definitively in her arms. Mother Nature includes Death, in the shape of the Wolf. This cannibalistic beast has nothing to do with the beautiful wild animal risking extinction, as well as the hunter in fairy tales has nothing to do with today's hunters. Any pedagogical confusion between them engenders confusion among children about what is dangerous for themselves.
Red Riding Hood follows the maternal injunction, and her mother does not warn her to avoid Nature's dangers. This injunction drives the main actant to death, because the parents protect here their children giving them simple tasks or teaching them how to avoid any danger. This parental care looks good, but fairy tales work in many dimensions, not only on the surface. The child who lacks its own desire or its own thought cannot develop as a free subject, and death is its imminent destiny.

Let us now think of the best-known version of this tale, where a hunter comes to kill the cannibalistic wolf and cut its belly, so that Red Riding Hood and her grandmother come out through a kind of Caesarean Section. The maternal realm is more dangerous when it looks quite harmless, and its hidden danger is lethal for the growing subject. Nevertheless, if a paternal character comes, he can help her or him to get a happy ending, thanks to his knife, his skill, and his knowledge of the wood.
We come to life thanks to the maternal nature and we become human subjects through maternal nourishment and paternal culture. We should not literally identify these two generators with a concrete couple, like a mother and a father. A parent can give a child both these signifiers, while two parents may be unable to do it. The confusion between the symbolic and the concrete presence of the maternal and the paternal figures prevents the understanding of fairy tales as well as of the children's needs, that take place in these precious popular tales. (AG)

See also, the e-kamishibai of this fairy tale, which is available via its fairy tale map.

Italian languageDauntless Little John
Fork of the Possible Task
northeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

Italo Calvino opens his collection of Italian fairy tales with this tale, and he explains why he does not quote his sources: the story is very popular all over Italy, and his version follows this manifold tradition. He writes:

Not only for that reason have I put this tale first, but also because it is one of the simplest and, in my view, one of the most beautiful folktales. It does not bat an eye, like its imperturbable main character; it distinguishes itself from the innumerable ghost stories, full of deaths and spectres, because it deals with the supernatural with a still steadiness that deems everything possible, without any subjection to the unknown.. (Calvino 1956, p. 85; English translation ours)

In his Introduction Calvino, who places himself as the last ring of a long chain of storytellers, affirms that …fairy tales are true. They are all together a general explanation of life, with their always repeated and always varied records of human happenings. (Ibid, p. 15)

If we acknowledge the still steadiness of little John in front of the unknown, we must also acknowledge that he does not know anything about his own shadow. Moreover, he does not know anything about his backside. The most popular version of Dauntless Little John tells that he dies of fear when he allows without any fear that somebody cut and reattach his head, because his head is reattached back-to-front and he sees his dreadful backside. Why Calvino did not tell anything about the evident death by fear of his Little John? He is scared to death in the face of something that belongs to everyone, something that children know well, like one’s own shadow or backside. To be afraid of one's own shadow means to be fearful, and this happens to people who repress fear. They may look brave, or at least imperturbable, facing the unknown, in the same way that Little John looks to Calvino.

I have told this tale to many children, and their amusement is due to the contrast between the amazing calmness of Little John in front of ghosts and deaths that fall through the chimney, and his being scared to death in front of his shadow or his backside. Boys and girls would never spend a night by themselves in a cursed castle, but they are not afraid of their shadow, and they laugh hearing that somebody may die looking at it. (See also, in Fairy Tales at a School, website Adalinda Gasparini, Psicoanalisi e favole)

Our shadow and our backside are what always follows us, unseen, even unknown, like our unconscious; if we think that it does not exist, it annihilates us, suddenly bursting into our lives.
Which boy would agree to let somebody cut his head? Dauntless John may look like a supernatural, imperturbable being, as he is considered by Calvino. When children listen to this tale, they may feel ashamed of their own fears, but they rejoice when the dauntless actant  dies for something that they know and see without any fear, like their shadow and their backside.
We would ascribe this Calvino's lack of attention to a common pedagogical ideal that sees our psychic life only within our consciousness. However, the unknown Unheimliche, the unconscious, exists. It structures us, even if we try to repress the perception of it. We could try to ignore the unheimliche unsettling mystery of the night, of sleep, of dreams, and of nightmares, of ghosts and of deaths that appear frightening to us, but we will never live a day without darkness and shadows, without a backside that follows us.

We included this version by Calvino of Dauntless Little John in Fabulando because it stresses a pedagogic illusion, expressed by those parents that try to reassure their child afraid of the night simply asserting that there is no reason to be afraid. This attitude may seem realistic, but it is very far from reality, because life is full of risks and dangers, even if we do not think of the dread we feel when a nightmare unsettles our sleep. We discover  very soon that death could hit anyone, and this is the root of all our different fears. The Indian epic poem Mahabharata tells that the greatest miracle is that we know that we could die in any moment but we nearly live as if we were immortal. Human dignity rests on the space opened up by the word nearly. The subject who lives without fear of death does not know this space at all, but fear is the hidden master of his life.
Dauntless Little John does not know death or fear; for this reason he is imperturbable, and for this same reason he dies the first time he looks at his shadow, which is what, unseen, always follows him.

In an ancient version of this tale, the first one published in the world, we can find a key to understand it better, the 16th century Italian fairy tale - the Fourth one of the Fifth Night - from The Facetious Night by Giovan Francesco Straparola. (Flamminio senza paura, website Adalinda Gasparini, Psicoanalisi e favole). A fairy tale homonym of Little John is the main actant of the tale Little John and the Shudder, (See also, by A.G., La fiaba, la morte, la paura: un fuoco, un tornio, un banco da ebanista, San Miniato, Pisa, 1994).

This tale belongs to the injunction Fork of the Possible Task. No parental actant orders the main actant to do anything, but the illusory ease of living without any fear is the result of the lack of a father, of his word and of the law that he embodies. For the same reason this fairy tale is in the northeast quadrant. Here the missing parents cause the ignorance of any limit that leads Little John to live without any fear. Appearing dauntless, he represents a thoughtless condition. (AG)

   Italian languageThus Ended the Idiot
Fork of the Possible Task
southeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

In fairy tales, an idiot boy, like the dauntless actant, may meet two opposite fortunes. The difference depends on his parents; his tale has a happy ending if the parents have uselessly tried to educate him and then banish him. The idiot has no happy ending if his only parent, usually a mother, tries to do everything to compensate for her son's dumbness, thinking of his risks as of something that she can foresee and overcome by teaching him some simple instructions.
In this dialectal Umbrian tale, the main actant memorizes the words of his mother and repeats them without thinking about the context in which he utters them. People beat him, and when he asks what he should have said, they teach him a different sentence that he memorizes instead of his mother's one. However, each of this sentences is out of sync when it is used by him, and people beat him again, and again he memorizes a new sentence, good for that circumstance, bad for the new one he is living.

This tale could represent the lethal power of the Freudian repetition compulsion, Thanatos. The dumb boy has no desire and no thought save his mother's, and he consequently never doubts her instructions. There is no chance for him to learn from experience, because we can learn something only if we feel ourselves free to feel and think in a way that may be different from what our parents or other masters teach us. During our whole life, we build up this subjectivation, and the death of the dumb boy could be equivalent to the anguishing experience of our blind failures. If we can bear to be disillusioned about the assurances of our parents, if we stop believing them, our subjectivity can emerge and live.
It is very interesting that this tale totally concerns language, with a dumb boy who does not know its polysemous and ambiguous nature. A subject can emerge and grow up only if s/he can understand this about language and learn how to deal with it. Fairy tales are thus ambiguous like language, whatever they might really mean, and the choice to give an interpretation is always subjective and questionable, or falsifiable.
We would finally stress that the poor dumb boy ends his life when he bumps into a blacksmith who is trying to light some wet brushwood. The idiot is coming from a town where a house was burning, and people taught him to say, “May God put it out". The human heir of the forge-god Vulcan cannot bear this dumbness, and taking a hammer he kills him. We remember a Latin sentence totally unheeded by the dumb boy and his mother: unusquisque faber fortunae suae, every man forges his own fortune.

Children have their own thoughts, and they may feel guilty if they see that these thoughts are different from their parent's: this rich Umbrian tale reinvigorates their rising subjectivity, and it reassures them about the guilty nature of their independent thoughts, since the tale comes from an authority, be it a parent, a teacher, a book or a tablet. (AG)

Italian languageThe Ridiculous Wishes
Forest of the Exile
Northeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

Fabulando collection includes this fairy tale, even if it does not introduce any parent or child. The theme of Succession, in the sense of a hierarchical relationship between powerful and poor actants, is here represented by the relation between a supernatural actant - a god here, a fairy in other versions of this story - and a poor actant - a woodcutter. Something should go from the strong actant to the weak one, as in the relationship between parents and children. In Smithy Menico the donor actant is Jesus and the weak actant is a poor smith. The Ridiculous Wishes might belong more to the fable genre than to the fairy-tale one, to be considered as a cunning apologue about the ambiguity of desire. Let us quote a renowned sentence by George Bernard Shaw, "There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it."
Our story tells that Jove, King of Olympus, appears to a poor woodcutter and tells that he will grant him three wishes. The man goes home and tells his wife what happened, and they agree that they will think carefully the following night before choosing what they can ask Jove. But the woodcutter exclaims that he would like a sausage, and a sausage appears in his dish, satisfying his first wish. Since his wife violently rails against him for having wasted one desire, the man shouts, Could it stick to your nose! And the sausage sticks to her nose. Now the woodcutter can cast only one wish, and he thinks about asking to become king of a big realm, with castles and servants and estates. But he then thinks that he would have a queen with a sausage hanging from her nose, an he eventually decides to use his third wish to turn his wife back to her nice old looks.
If you look at the figure of this story's e-book, you see how the sausage is a grotesque phallic appendage, which is caused by the couple quarrel, and vanishes with their agreement. We hear of wishes that are wasted, of course, but perhaps anything but ridiculous. Noticing that Jove gave no limit to the woodcutter's three desires, we can think of a dirty trick, because no human desire exists without limits, since it comes from lack.

The Ridiculous Wishes played a role in the debut of Charles Perrault as a writer of fairy tales. He wrote in 1691 Griselidis. Nouvelle, a free verse translation of the hundreth novella of the Decameron. Boccaccio's Griselda has been retold, painted and set to music by writers, painters and musicians ever since Boccaccio's time (including Francesco Petrarca, Geoffrey Chaucer, the Master of Griselda, Antonio Vivaldi, and Domenico Scarlatti). In 1693 Perrault wrote The Ridiculous Wishes (Les souhaites ridicules), and in 1694 he published it together with Griseldis (Griselidis), adding a third new story, Donkey Skin (Peau d'Ane). So, Donkey Skin is the first fairy tale written and published by Perrault, three years before the first edition of his renowned Les Contes de ma Mère l'Oye. In the upcoming Grand Tour "A Forgotten Desire crossing Novella and Fairy Tale. From Griselda to the Green Beaubird", we will resume this topic, to which we have now made only a first hint.

The little story of the woodcutter and his wife who could get anything and get nothing, is then quoted twice in 1919 by Sigmund Freud. About his interest in folk tales (see also The Theme of the Three Caskets. SE, 12: 291-301 [Das Motif der Kästchenwahl 1913]), we will resume this topic in the upcoming  Grand Tour of the (non) Ridiculous Wishes.

In a note added to the Interpretation of Dreams, 1919 edition, he quotes The Ridiculous Wishes after these words, in order to briefly explain them:

No doubt, a wish-fulfillment must bring pleasure; but the question then arises 'To whom?' To the person who has the wish, of course. But as we know, a dreamer's relation to his wishes is a quite peculiar one. He repudiates them and censors them - in short, he doesn't like them. Their fulfillment can therefore give him no pleasure, but just the opposite; and experience shows that this opposite appears in the form of anxiety, something still to be explained. Thus, in his relation to his dream-wishes, a dreamer can only be compared to an amalgamation of two separate people linked by some important common element.

We eventually think that the short simplicity of the three ridiculous wishes may be illusory, like the seeming simplicity of the Sphynx's riddle, solved by Oedipus. As the desires can be fulfilled, but not exhausted, so the secrets can be revealed, but only in the moment they hide themselves again. (AG)

 Italian languageFlower and Flowerstem
Forest of the Exile
 Southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

Here we have two beautiful youth, Flower and her brother Flowerstem. Their mother died and their father married a woman who persecutes her stepchildren. She eventually turns them out of the house, because her daughter is ugly and she cannot stand their beauty.
Let us read this beginning, common to many tales – the most famous is Cinderella -, as something difficult to express, namely a mix of love and hate towards the mother figure. Fairy tales often stage two actants to tell this ambivalent connection: a dead good mother, who may reappear as a fairy – it happens in this tale of ours -, and a bad mother, usually a stepmother. This bad mother acts in the tale and the main actants have to face her to grow up and become independent, able to get their happy ending. In Flower and Flowerstem, we have a female main actant and a female parental injunction, therefore this tale is in the southwest quadrant. Its injunction is the Forest of the Exile, because the adventure of Flower and Flowerstem begins when they are cast out of their home.
They have always been beautiful, but their stepmother turns them out of home after a special event. One time they go to a fountain to draw water, and meet twelve fairies who ask them for a bit of the flatbread they are eating. Then Flower divides her flatbread in twelve pieces and gives it to the fairies, without keeping even a little bit for herself. To reward Flower, the fairies give her three gifts: whenever she speaks, flowers will blossom on her lips; whenever she unwinds her braids, a cascade of golden pearls will fall from her hair, and the son of the king will marry her.
When the good mother dies and an envious stepmother takes her place, the actants usually meet a magic female actant, who can either damage them or fulfil their wishes. Fairy tales say that when the actants honour these magic helpers, they are always rewarded with something precious. In fact, when Flower and Flowerstem are alone, they can make a living thanks to the flowers blossoming on Flower’s lips, which Flowerstem goes to sell. Through her flowers, the king sees Flower, and finding her beautiful, he asks to marry her. But Flower has again to face her stepmother, and her happy ending is still far.

Let us now try to understand what this story is telling about this theme. We noticed the mix of love and hate belonging to the mother-daughter relation. The mother's death means the loss of the all-good mother, and the fairies represent her donor side, while the stepmother represents the mother's destructive side. In this real relationship, to unravel the tangle of these feelings is nearly impossible, because they are interconnected, belonging both to mother and daughter, and they are mainly repressed, therefore unconscious. Fairy tales stage an innocent beautiful daughter and a bad ugly stepmother, therefore the blame of the aggressiveness lies on the older woman, while in real life it belongs also to the daughter, who tries to overcome her mother.
We know that growing away from her mother is necessary to any daughter in order to become an independent subject. It is the only way to find her place in the world, but this parting is painful. The daughter has to give up the feeling of security that she received as a child from the strong tie with her mother. Like a mirror, the mother offers herself to her little girl, so that she can build up her identity. That sense of security and that reflection entail the unconditional adherence to a female model, and the little daughter thinks impossible to move away from this model, because this is the only way she knows herself. But growing up she feels the uncontrollable urge to set off and find her own way. This desire entails an aggressiveness, and the daughter wavers: should she follow it or fight against it? The daughter someway feels her separation as an aggression against her mother, and ascribing her own aggressiveness to the maternal figure she can think she is quite innocent, and therefore become able to find the impulse necessary to leave her.

We can now appreciate how fairy tales stage this dangerous vital mix of deep feelings, which often cannot be spoken. Thrown out of her home, even though she is now the promised bride of the king, Flower suffers another aggression from her stepmother. She makes Flower fall into the hands of the Sea Siren, a mermaid who kidnaps beautiful girls, while her ugly stepsister takes her place and marries the king.
The journey of Flower towards her happy ending is not complete. She has to live for some time with the powerful magic creature who captured her. The Sea Siren is another maternal actant, which in other variants of this fairy tale the girl calls “mother” (see Ciciruni, collected in Palermo by Giuseppe Pitrè, in Internet Archive).
To get its happy ending, the fairy tale needs now a male actant, Flowerstem, who acts as an intermediary between his sister and the king, as he did when he was selling Flower’s flowers. In this part of the story, the gifts of the fairies are again precious, because the golden pearls coming from Flower’s hair feed the king’s geese. Flowerstem is their guardian, and the geese, coming back to the palace, tell how the beautiful Flower has nurished them with golden pearls. When the king learns what happened, he frees Flower facing the Sea Siren, not only thanks to his courage, but also because Flower reveals him how to do it.
Let us notice this passage: he determines her liberation, and without him, Flower would still be on the seashore, imprisoned by the Sea Siren.
But he would not know how to do it if she had not provided him with the right information. This story tells that when a girl has to face a persecutor mother, which is powerful like this female sea monster, a male actant has to act and help her, however following the knowledge that the female actant has learnt from the magic being (see also Parsley).
It eventually tells that a female main actant can never get a happy ending if she does not learn to act with others and share what she knows. (CC)

Italian languageThe Cockroach, the Mouse and the Cricket
Forest of the Exile
Northeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

Every fairy tale can be read at various levels, and every level displays a meaning. It can be interpreted in psychoanalytic terms, depending on whether you subscribe to Freudian, Jungian, Kleinian or Lacanian theory. A fairy tale looks manageable, like a centuries-old humble form patiently waiting for the hermeneutics of a learned scholar. There is no damage, because the extraordinary vitality of this narrative form does not depend on any interpretation, and every reading can make sense provided that the scholars are not too sure of their own method and theory. If they force the fairy tale’s complexity into their particular interpretation, trying to exhaust its meaning, they lose the fairy tale itself, which disappears easily slipping out of their hermeneutic exercise. Sometimes fairy tales, like poetry and dreams, delude us into thinking we have glimpsed their source, but they slip out of our grasp, making our interpretation insignificant.
Hoping to resist this temptation, which loses its sense just when it seizes it, we propose our interpretation of The Cockroach, the Mouse and the Cricket, which is one of the most beautiful, hilarious tales of Basile’s collection.
It tells of a merchant and his only son, Nardiello, who is so silly and idle that he has already squandered one half of his father’s riches, gambling and hanging about with prostitutes and innkeepers, making fun of him to get to his money. After having tried with no success to convince him to stop this inane behaviour, his father sends him to the market of Salerno, providing him with one hundred ducats to buy some calves, so that he could start breeding livestock, so as to become so rich that he might even buy a noble title.
Nardiello sets off on his journey, but he sees, not far from home, a fairy who is having fun with a cockroach playing a little guitar, better than all the musicians of his time. Craving for this magic animal, Nardiello gives the fairy the hundred ducats and buys the cockroach, then he goes back home to tell his father what a good deal he made. His father, seeing nothing but an insect, does not give Nardiello even the time to show him the cockroach's virtuosity, and starts yelling at him. But later he provides him again with one hundred ducats, warning him not to stop before he reaches the market of Salerno. Once again, Nardiello falls in love with a little animal, a mouse who dances so skilfully and delightfully that he gives its owner fairy his hundred ducats to get it. But when his father sees a mouse, he loses patience and scolds him. Nonetheless, he gives Nardiello the same amount for the third time, warning him that he will punish very harshly a third mistake. For the third time Nardiello gives a fairy all his hundred ducats, to get her singer cricket, whose voice is so melodious that it can send everybody to sleep. This time the father, seeing this third insane purchase, loses all patience, and gives him such a savage beating that Nardiello escapes from him and runs away from home.

The paternal upbringing failed. Nardiello choses the exile, getting his way with nothing but his three miniature artists. When he hears of a king who promised the hand of his daughter to whomever will make her laugh - the sad princess had not laughed for seven years -, he decides to try the test, even if those who fail it must die. The performance of the guitarist cockroach, of the dancing mouse and the singing cricket, makes the melancholic princess laugh, but the king becomes sad, since he does not want the wretched Nardiello to become his son-in-law. Therefore he says that Nardiello has to pass another test: if he is not able to consummate the marriage within three days, he will die.

I am not afraid,” said Nardiello, “for in that time I am man enough to consummate the marriage, thy daughter and all thine house.” (The Cockroach, the Mouse and the Cricket e-book, p. 45)

But Nardiello does not notice that the king puts some opium into his wine, and he soundly sleeps for three nights. He therefore gets a place in the lion’s den, instead of the princess’ bed. Knowing that he is going to die, Nardiello opens the small box where he keeps the cockroach, the mouse and the cricket, and tells them that he wants to set them free.
Art cures melancholy, not only in fairy tales. Music has always been considered a remedy against the ancient disease that somehow corresponds to today’s depression, furthermore, art therapy is a contemporary cure for diseases. In this fairy tale of ours, the three little artists allow the misfit spender Nardiello to overcome where all the others failed. But this brings him into the lion’s den. The value of art can look negligible for common sense, and it can be underrated by rulers, as for example by an Italian minister who some years ago declared that you can’t eat culture. But we can see that art survives for centuries and millennia, after the kings and merchants, who failed to appreciate its strength and value, disappeared.
It is true that there are no guarantees of success or of good luck for those who possess and exercise an art, like Nardiello, who keeps his magic artists inside a little box. Until the time when - Basile tells in this wonderful fairy tale - he releases the art itself, so that it can live beyond his own death. Now the cockroach, the mouse and the cricket have no master, no fairy or a poor devil sentenced to death. This for them is the right time to speak. They tell Nardiello that they want to reward him, because to get them he gave away all his money, he tenderly protected and nourished them, and eventually he gave them freedom, which is the most precious gift. Then they repeat their performance, and if the first time they cured the princess, now they tame the lions, which immobilize themselves. Their art repeats the miracle of Orpheus, the artist par excellence in Greek mythology, whose music enchanted the wild animals too. While the lions stand like statues, the little artists lead Nardiello out of the den, to a safe haven, and they ask him what they could do for him. Nardiello asks them to prevent the new bridegroom of the princess from consummating the marriage, because this would consummate his own life.
Now the scatological enterprise of the three little animal artists begins, and their magic consists of cunning and operations that correspond to their physical abilities, to remain invisible thanks to their small size, not to shy away from dirt, to gnaw, using also their artistic expertise.
The king had just married his daughter to a German nobleman, who on the first night falls soundly asleep .
The guitar-playing cockroach acts as a suppository for him,

...in such wise that he could have said with Petrarca, “From love it extracted thence a subtle liquid”.
The bride hearing the grumbling stream of the bowels, “the aura, the odour, the breeze and the shade”, awakened her husband
(Ibid., pp. 58-60)

The sapper cockroach changes the royal alcove into a sickening place, and the second night the defence of the bridegroom, who barricades his orifice with a trench of bands, clothes and underpants, is useless. If the cockroach cannot enter like the first night, the mouse steps up, and gnawing at the trench he opens a breach for him, so that the insect,

… gave him another medicinal dose, in such a guise that a topaz sea came forth, and the Arabian perfumes infected the whole palace. The bride being tainted with such odour awoke, and sighting the orange deluge which had coloured the white Holland sheets to Venetian tabby, holding her nose, flew to the chamber of her handmaidens. The wretched bridegroom, calling the valets, loudly and at length lamented his misfortune, that through a lax foundation the greatness of his house would be closed (ibid., pp. 65-67).

To prepare himself for the third night, the bridegroom blocks his orifice with a custom made wood plug, resolving to stay up not to lose control. Now the cricket takes action, sending the German groom to sleep with his sweet singing, but the mouse, finding a barrage that he cannot open with his teeth, cannot make way for the cockroach. Then the mouse goes to the larder and dips his tail into a jar of mustard, and then he rubs his tail several times under the nose of the bridegroom,

…and he began to sneeze so loudly and strongly, that the stopper came forth in a fury, and as he lay with his back turned to the bride, it struck her mid-breast with such a blow that it nearly slew her. And she screamed and screeched, and at her screams the king ran in, and enquired of her what ailed her. She told him that a petard had been shot at her breast. And the king marvelled with excessive marvel at such a folly, and wondered how a petard on her chest she could speak; and lifting the bed-clothes, he found the bran mine, and the petard's stopper which had hit the bride, and made a good mark in her breast; although I know not which caused her more disgust, the stink of the powder, or the blow from the ball (ibid., pp. 79-81).

Then the king chases away the German nobleman. The king gets upset thinking that that disaster came from his unfair death sentence, and misses the innocent Nardiello. The three little magic animals promptly come to cheer him up, telling him that the legitimate pretender is alive and that they are ready to go and get him. Then they turn him into a handsome youth, worthy husband of the princess, and all live happily ever after.
Moreover, they send for the merchant father of Nardiello, to make him share his son’s royal prosperity. Let us think that he deserved it, because he acknowledged the failure of his upbringing.
Otherwise Nardiello would not have set off and found his own way, getting something that his father could not even dream.

Basile devotes more than one third of this tale to the scatological war operation of the three little animals, who act for the sake of Nardiello, who loves them and takes care of them. They return his love leading him to conquer the princess and defeat all his opponents.
Art wins over common sense, personified by the merchant father, and the German nobleman, who makes use of doctors and counsellors, also military ones – a young bombardier suggests the wood plug -, and the power personified by the king. It happens in this fairy tale, and goes on happening every time we read and enjoy it.

Italy has, with Lo cunto de li cunti or Pentamerone by Basile, the most ancient, rich and artistic book of fairy tales, by mutual consent of the foreign critics who know this subject. (Croce, in: Basile, 1974; our translation)

So Benedetto Croce in 1925 introduced his complete translation of Basile’s collection, the first Italian one, which we still consider the most beautiful. An introduction by Italo Calvino enriched the 1974 edition of this text, but the Italian writer never read Basile’s text: “Moreover," he wrote, "I am dealing with a book of Basile-Croce, because I know the first only through the second one” (ibid., vol. I, p. V; our translation).
Introducing his collection Italian Folktales, published in 1956, Calvino had written:

Basile's work resembles the dream of a hideous Neapolitan Shakespeare, obsessed with the horrible, so that ogres and witches are never enough, with a taste for the tortuous grotesque image, where the sublime mingles with the coarse and the sordid. (Calvino 1968, vol. I, p. 7, our translation; see also Calvino 1980, p. XV)

By his analogy with Shakespeare, Calvino seizes the amazing linguistic skill of Basile, which reaches one of its peaks in this fairy tale's operation of the three little artist animals. He moves to perfection his juggler tools, mingling scatological, sexual, military languages, and then he ends his amazing performance with some lines of Francesco Petrarca. The amazing writer provokes laughter and admiration, bringing on the stage the infinite resources of the language.

Tale of Tales is a Neapolitan work, and its language is today nearly incomprehensible even in Neaples, but its influence on the Italian and European fairy-tale imagination testifies to its universal value. As for the adjective hideous, we agree with Italo Calvino on condition that we think as hideous the human being too. From Basile's baroque point of view life usually mingles together the sublime and the coarse. Moreover, we can feel Basile close to us thanks to his irreducible complexity, which reflects our weakened identity, because no salvific ideology looks now able to ensure us.

We can feel ourselves exiled and delegitimized like Nardiello, when we undergo the narcissistic injury coming from the disillusion about our possibility to master ourselves. The ego is not master in its own house, as Freud said.
But sometimes it happens that in our exile - namely away from the house of our origin - we can fall in love with a doll, like the main actant of Pooavola Doll, or with three little animals artist. We can face the risk of following our own desire, which seldom agrees with common sense, and is unavoidably divergent from our social and parental injunctions.

The dreamer writer Giambattista Basile did not get a throne like Nardiello, nor did his art make his life easy. However, he endowed his creature, The Tale of Tales, with the magic of art, and it has been travelling through time and space, beyond borders that he could not even dream.

To acknowledge the magic of art means understanding that art is the offspring of human culture, and the only kind of immortality to which a human being can aspire. But it means also giving up the illusion to master one’s own creature, be it a little or great artistic work. (See also: Lake of Generation)

In art alone, it still happens that a man, consumed by his wishes, produces something similar to the gratification of these wishes, and this playing, thanks to artistic illusion, calls forth effects as if it were something real. We rightly speak of the magic of art and compare the artist with a magician. But this comparison is perhaps more important than it claims to be. (Freud, 1912-13, p. 96)

Thanks to this magic, the tales by Basile, and Nardiello, the princess, the king and the merchant, live happily forever after, together with the guitar-playing cockroach, the dancing mouse and the singing cricket. (AG)

Italian languageLittle John and the Shudder
Forest of the Exile
Northeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

The Italian writer Giovan Francesco Straparola wrote in the 16th century the first version of this type of tale ever published in the world. It is not included in Fabulando, but we are going to tell something about it, before speaking of Little John and the Shudder.

In Ostia, an ancient city situated no great distance from Rome, there lived in former days, according to the common report, a young man of a nature rather weak and errant than stable and prudent, whose name was Flamminio Veraldo. He had heard it said over and over again that there was in all the world nothing more terrible and fright flu than Death, the dark and inevitable one, seeing that he shows pity to none, having respect to no man, however poor or rich he may be. Wherefore, being filled with wonder at what he had heard, he determined by himself to find and to see with his own eyes what manner of thing this might be which men called Death. (Straparola, W. G. Waters translator, p. 112; English version available online in the website of Adalinda Gasparini, Psicoanalisi e favole)

Flamminio leaves his home and after a long hard way he reaches a desert marble city where he meets a very ugly and old woman. He thinks to have finally found what he was looking for, but the woman reveals herself as Life. Nevertheless, having heard the youth's request, to try fear and know Death, she satisfies him. Old ugly Life cuts the head of Flamminio and reattaches it backwards on his neck.
So Flamminio looks down and sees his shoulders, his loins, and his big buttocks standing out. He falls into such a fit of terror and dismay that, not being able to think of any place where he could hide himself, he cries out to the old woman in a trembling dolorous voice:

Alas, alas, my good mother! bring me back once more to my old shape; bring me back, for the love of God, for by my faith I have never seen anything more frightful and more hideous than what I now behold (ibid.).

Old ugly mother Life leaves Little John/Flamminio in this dreadful condition for some time, then she cuts his head off again and reattaches it in the right way. When Little John/Flamminio

…perceived that he had once more become his old self, put on his clothes; and now, having seen what a terrible thing, and by his own experience proved what a hideous and ugly thing Death was, he made his way back to Ostia by the shortest and the quickest way he knew without saying any more farewell words to the old woman, occupying himself for the future in reaching after Life and flying from Death, devoting himself more diligently to the consideration of those matters which he had hither to neglected (ibid.).

We know fear since we know the existence of death; and we stop looking for death like we did whan we did not know fear. Death is the only thing, together with birth, that we do not need to look for. This tale may be a masterful flash of light if we get a glimpse into the human reality that it enlightens. It explains our trend to run many risks when we go beyond limits without any goal. We may lose our life looking for death, but what we are really looking for is the experience of our limits. To see death makes us feel dread and may be the biggest push to look for better occupations.

The ancient Italian fairy tale is a perfect introduction to Little John and the Shudder, which tells of a boy who did not know what fear was, but different from the version retold by Calvino (Dauntless Little John). It includes motifs that we see in Calvino’s version, for example the night that the main actant spends in a cursed castle, where all who had tried to do so had died. Here we present this tale, widespread all over Europe, as Wilhelm Grimm wrote it in 1818: Märchen von einem, der auszog, das Fürchten zu lernen (The Story of the Youth who went forth to learn what Fear Was).
The main actant does not know what fear is, like Little John/Flamminio, and his father is not able to teach him this. He throws Little John out of his house, because the only aim of his son is to learn what fear is. Like Little John/Flamminio, he sets off following his desire, while the main actant of Calvino's version simply meanders without any desire. Since the main actant of the sixteenth-century Italian story - like the one of the story retold by Wilhelm Grimm - does not know fear, his condition seems to be the same as Calvino’s Dauntless Little John. But they are different from this fairy brother of theirs, because they desire - they know that they need - to know fear, while Calvino’s main actant has no desire. In the tale retold by Grimm, that Antonio Gramsci translated into Italian during his incarceration, Little John goes on complaining of his lack of fear. Even when he becomes the husband of the daughter of the king, he goes on longing for shudders, the goose bumps, namely the bodily test of that feeling. This physical reaction gives evidence of something unheimliche, unsettling, deep, unknown. It is the alive perception of the unconscious, be it represented by our shadow or by our backside.

In the ancient Italian tale, it is a female character - a helper actant, so to say - the old ugly Life, who offers Little John/Flamminio what he was looking for. In Little John and the Shudder, the main actant also reaches his goal thanks to a female actant.
It is told that the princess married by Little John was bored, listening to the continual complains of her husband, missing the experience of goose bumps. Her maid concluded the matter with a masterful hit that reminds ourselves of the cutting of the head acted by the old ugly Life, even if here there is no magic power.

She went out to the stream which flowed through the garden, and had a whole bucketful of gudgeons brought to her. At night when the young king was sleeping, his wife was to draw the clothes off him and empty the bucketful of cold water with the gudgeons in it over him, so that the little fishes would sprawl about him. When this was done, he woke up and cried "Oh, what makes me shudder so?—-what makes me shudder so, dear wife? Ah! now I know what it is to shudder!" (Little John and the Shudder e-book, p. 83)

Here is the happy ending of this tale, which comes, as in every fairy tale, when the main actants realize their desire. It is the desire that sets in motion them and their story.

Let us underline another detail of Wilhelm Grimm's version. When the main actant is going to spend his first night in the cursed castle, he asks and gets from the king some tools: a fire, a lathe and a carpenter's workbench with a knife. Forging metals, working and transforming natural materials means making use of a human basic inheritance. Little John, asking and getting them, endowes himself of instruments to become homo faber, the human being who can give shape to his life. Becoming a member of human culture, he can use these instruments to limit and defeat the ghosts haunting the cursed castle.

We leave our childish illusion understanding that we are not masters of ourselves. Something unknown always follows us, like our shadow, taking our same steps. Freud named our unknown side "the unconscious". The main actant of the popular version retold by Calvino, like his two fairy tale brothers, ignores it, ignoring for this reason fear and death. And he does not feel any lack of fear, while the main actants of Straparola's and Grimm's versions feel this lack, so much that they live to find it.
In Calvino's version Little John dies of fear seeing his back side, in other similar versions it is the sight of his shadow to kill him. Fear fatally comes to him and tears up the frail texture of his identity.

Calvino's choice to open his collection with his version of Little John, could place the Italian writer on the side of those educators who think that telling children who are afraid of darkness that there is no reason to be afraid, can eliminate their anxiety. Nonetheless, this fairy tale works in its own way, inviting children to acknowledge their fears instead of repressing it. Children would never spend a night by themselves in a cursed castle or let anybody cut their heads off, even if they pledge to them to reattach them without any damage. They may feel a little cowardly hearing that Little John did it, but they feel good and brave when Little John is scared to death, just looking at his shadow or backside. By different means all the fairy tales of Little John's type, from the 16th first version to Calvino's one, tell that fear and goose bumps are not only licit but also necessary to live and grow up.

These fairy tale belongs to the injunction of the Forest of the Exile, because Little John sets off on his way when his father throws him out of the house and tells him never to say who his father is. It is in the northeast quadrant having a male main actant and a father ordering him to live by himself. (AG)

Italian languageThe Tale of the Ogre
Forest of the Exile
Southeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

This is the first story of Basile's Tale of Tales. It tells of a silly layabout youth, in some respects a fairy-tale brother of the main actant of the Umbrian fairy tale Thus Ended the Idiot, of Nardiello of The Cockroach, the Mouse and the Cricket and of Madmatt. While each of these three actants is an only child, our actant, named Dumbtony, has six sisters, who, having no dowry, cannot get married. The family is very poor, and the mother hurls insults at her son, who never does anything but eat and act the fool. She finally gives him such a hard thrashing that he runs away from home. Thus the injunction is the Forest of the Exile, southeast quadrant.

The Umbrian tale is also located in the southeast quadrant, but its injunction is the Fork of the Possible Task, since the mother of this story does not chase her son away, but she gives him a simple task and puts into his silly son’s mouth her words, to compensate for his dumbness. The Idiot never meets a fatherly helper, and knowing nothing better than repeating other’s words, he finally dies. Death finally comes also to Dauntless Little John, who did not consider any task awkward or frightening.
Also the mother of Madmatt does not turn her son out of the house, but she does not try to compensate for his dumbness; the boy encounters a magic helper and an enemy king, but finally becomes the wise handsome husband of the crown princess. As for Nardiello, from the story The Cockroach, the Mouse and the Cricket, he has a father but no mother. He encounters three fairies, and buys their little animal artists with the money received from his father, who, upon learning that Nardiello has spent all his money, beats him and turns him out of the house. Just like Madmatt, Nardiello first gets, then loses, and then gets back a princess, becoming heir to the throne.

Dumbtony runs away from home and goes on running and running, until he finds himself facing an ogre and stops in his tracks. This ogre has little to do with the cannibalistic ogres of many popular fairy tales; he is rather a preternatural creature, a remote descendant of the fauns and satyrs who once upon a time dwelled in the wild lands. They nearly disappeared when the angels and devils came, strictly separating good and evil. The pagan creatures found shelter in superstitions and fairy tales. We can see another ogre of this kind in the fairy tale of Violet, an urbane gullible ogre, friend of fairies and fatherly and tender helper to the female main actant.
In The Tale of the Ogre, Dumbtony faces this ogre, who is ready to welcome him like Violet's ogre. However, he is a wild ogre, and thus lives far from the city, and is grotesque in appearance.

His head was larger than an Indian vegetable-marrow, his forehead full of bumps, his eyebrows united, his eyes crooked, his nose flat, with nostrils like a forge, his mouth like an oven, from which protruded two tusks like unto a boar’s; a hairy breast had he, and arms like reels; and bandy-legged was he, and flat-footed like a goose; briefly he was an hideous monster, frightful to behold, who would have frightened a Roland, horrified, a Scannarebecco, and turned pale an experienced  wrestler ; but Dumbtony, who cared not for ugliness or aught else, nodding his head slightly to him, said, ‘Farewell sir, what are you doing here? How are you? Would you something? How far is it from here to the place whereto I am bound?’ the ogre, hearing such foolish queries addressed to him, burst out a-laughing, and because he was pleased with that humourous beast, said to him, ‘Are you looking for a master?’ and Dumbtony rejoined, ‘Which monthly pay would you?’ and the ogre answered, ‘Mind and serve me honourably, and we will not dispute about the wage.’ 
(The Tale of the Ogre e-book, pp. 13-15)

Dumbtony's service to the ogre only consists in eating, and so he becomes very fat. But after two years he becomes homesick, and, losing weight day by day, he wastes away.
Unable to work and provide for himself and his family, Dumbtony has found a master who feeds him, because he is only able to eat, just like a newborn child. Nevertheless, he is so homesick that he stops eating. The ogre sees that he iswasting away, and lets him go home with a magical gift. He gives him a donkey, ordering him not to say “Ass do goldpoo!” before arriving home. Dumbtony promises to obey him, but as soon as he is out of sight of his master he pronounces the magic words. In the blink of an eye, the donkey spews forth a lot of rubies, emeralds and diamonds, which Dumbtony puts into his knapsack.

Unable to understand what to say out loud and what to keep to himself, as well as being unable to work and carry out any duty, Dumbtony is robbed by an innkeeper who replaces his magic donkey with a common one. Let us remember that the magic ass of this fairy tale is the same as in Perrault’s Peau d’âne, where the animal supplies the king’s treasure with its munificent evacuations.
Dumbtony then arrives home promising his mother to enrich her forever, and the woman takes linen from her six daughters’ trousseau and spreads them on the floor to get the precious stones. However, the ass does not care for magic words and when Dumbtony tries to convince it with a stick, the poor donkey evacuates ruining the linen and making the whole house stink. To escape his mother’s blows, Dumbtony runs away and goes back to the grotto of the ogre, who scolds him. Nevertheless, the ogre takes him back. Once more, Dumbtony becomes very fat, and after one year, he becomes homesick and wastes away. This time the ogre gives him a napkin for his mother, ordering him not to say "Napkin, open!" or "Napkin, fold!" until he is at home.
Like the first time, Dumbtony immediately tries the magical words, and discovers the amazing property of the napkin, which conferes delicious foods served on precious dishes. The cunning innkeeper robs him again, and for the second time Dumbtony promises his mother to enrich her, bringing only a common napkin. Angry and disappointed, the poor woman turns him out of the house ordering him to stay away forever.
For the third time the motif repeats itself, with Dumbtony who serves his ogre master eating and fattening up for three years, then becoming homesick and wasting away. The ogre gives him his third gift, warning him that it is the last one,

‘Take this stick and keep it in remembrance of me, but be careful not to say, ‘‘Erect thyself, mace’’, or ‘‘Lie down, mace’’, for I want no part with thee’ (ibid., p. 45).

For the third time Dumbtony soon tests these words and his behaviour with the innkeeper looks the same as the other times, but he reveals only the first part of the magic formula. Dumbtony somehow learnt that there are things to keep to himself, and this is decisive for his story, because the innkeeper, thinking he will get a third treasure, finds himself under a burst of heavy blows without any remedy. He must go to Dumbtony and beseech him to stop the frenzied mace. Here we are sure that our main actant has learnt the lesson, because he does not say the magic word before the innkeeper gives him back the magic ass and napkin.
Then he goes home with the three magic gifts, gives his six sisters a rich dowry, so that they can get married, and enriches forever himself and his mother and lives happily forever after.
The motif of these three magic objects is very popular in Italy and in Europe, but this grotesque ogre “hideous of favour but handsome of heart” (ibid., p. 33) comes straight from Basile, who holds together at the highest level the naturalness and the vividness of folktales and the art of writing.

We could give in to the temptation to interpret these three magic objects connecting them to the libidinal stages described by Freud, which here follow each other with one only exception, the napkin, linked to the oral stage, in the fairy tale follows the donkey, linked to the anal stage, while the oral one is the first libidinal stage. In every tale where the three objects appear, the stick, or mace, or cudgel, is the final gift, which enables the actant to face and win over the innkeeper. Only with the mace, linked to the phallic stage, Dumbtony can keep what he received from his ogre master and get back the napkin and the donkey, and then he can fully provide for himself, his mother and his six sisters. Linking the fairy-tale happy ending to the genital stage, missing in The Tale of the Ogre, we can link the final wealth of Dumbtony to the latent stage, with his mother finally proud of her son, who she previously beat and turned out of the house. The stick of the son, finally initiated into life, takes over the mother’s stick, with mutual satisfaction. It could mean that a phallic mother turns into a welcoming mother, thanks to the growth of the son.
This interpretation, convincing but fairly mechanical, might work for all fairy tales where there are these three magical objects. Nevertheless, whether we would relate it or not to the Freudian libidinal stages, this motif is for Basile the canvas on which he embroiders the relationship between Dumbtony and the ogre, who is “hideous of favour but handsome of heart” (cit.). He is an extraordinary educator, a father figure endowed with such patience, intuition and generosity that he is made into an inimitable model. The first fairy tale of the Tale of Tales tells of the unrealistic virtue of an educator, like the novella of Griselda, the hundreth and last of Decameron, tells of the unrealistic virtue of a wife (see, about this subject, also The Green Beaubird). We would like to see in the ogre's ethics something psychoanalytic: he knows and tolerates the repetition compulsion, welcomes whoever runs into him, he nourishes them and lets them go their way. Stretching the interpretation, we would like to say that the power of the three magic objects reminds us of the power of transfer, which enables experiences that were impossible up to that time. The ogre performs female and male functions; he is paternal in showing Dumbtony  his simple-mindedness through its consequences and imposing limits on him. He behaves like a mother when he welcomes and feeds Dumbtony for years, waiting for pain and desire to call him to humanize himself. The ogre follows Dumbtony's own time, understands his needs and allows him to grow year by year as a subject, until he gets homesick. This feeling overcomes his wish to eat and laze around without limits.

Regarding his ugliness, this is precisely why the ogre could resemble a psychoanalyst.
Both the ogre and the psychoanalyst are far from the 'normal' people's common sense, and they do not look reassuring at all. A psychoanalyst becomes as ugly as the ogre, when he turns into a mirror where his/her patient sees something so ugly and dangerous, that he/she has tried not to see it. If the patient is not too afraid, if he/she does not run away, he/she can find something that had been inaccessible or seemed forever lost. The ogre gives Dumbtony the chance to regress to the oral stage - when he has to do nothing more than eating -, then to the anal stage - when Dumbtony should be able to keep the secret of the magic donkey. We know that for the child living the anal stage what it makes with its body is as precious as gold. But Dumbtony is not able to keep his treasure, and the innkeeper steals from him the magic donkey, as well as the magic napkin. He cannot discern words to be said from words not to be said. The ogre invites him to keep secret the magic formulas, and to say them only at the right time, but Dumbtony fails and comes back to the ogre. Only the third time, when he has the magic club, namely a phallic symbol, he reaches his goal, to be useful to himself and to his poor mother and sisters. This story tells of a post-weaning time, which can also be the time of a psychoanalytic journey.

Let us finally remember the answer of Dumbtony - we quoted it above - when he replies to the ogre who asks  him if he will serve him. Whilst it looks like a non-sense, it may be a full-sense.

‘Which monthly pay would you?’ and the ogre answered, ‘Mind and serve me honourably, and we will not dispute about the wage.’  (ibid., p. 15).

A patient serves the psychoanalyst because, thanks to the transfert, he plays with him/her the dependent role he/she played as a child with his/her parents. But he/she pays a fee to the psychoanalyst who is and is not his/her mirror, who is and is not the avatar of his/her parents. And when the post-weaning - or Nacherziehung, post-education, as Freud sometimes named it - is fairly complete, the psychoanalytic journey is over.
Then he/she can leave forever the psychoanalyst in his grotto built of pumice-stone. (AG)

Italian languagePooavola Doll
Marsh of the Dereliction
Map of the Tale

Once upon a time, in Venice, Poavola meant doll. Its fairy tale was written and published for the first time in Venice by Giovan Francesco Straparola (16th century), and about a century after Giambattista Basile rewrote the same tale - The Goose - in his collection, in Napoli.

In his tale Basile turned the Poavola from a doll to a goose, possibly because the Neapolitan writer did not know the meaning of Poavola. The Grimm Brothers, two centuries later, inserted this story in their collection, with a goose evacuating golden coins for her sweet foster mother. From Straparola to the Grimm Brothers the magic helper bites the ass of the king and hangs on to it. Why would a servant catch a goose to meet his king's need for some toilet paper?  Moreover, could a living goose stay still in a rubbish heap? In fairy tales many odd things can happen, and a misunderstanding made the Poavola doll turn into a goose, but this did not decrease the strength of its tale. Children love it, also because it tells of solid goldcoins coming from the magic creature instead of excrements, and because the magic creature bites a royal back. Children are seriously interested in the anal sphere and coprolaliac expressions, for this reasons we named Pooavola, instead of Poavola, the doll of this version of the fairy tale - the first published in the world. Only scholars of 16th century Italian literature now read Straparola's fairy tales, and we are happy to invite you to enjoy his stories.

La Poavola, vedute le superbe nozze di l’una e l’altra sorella, e il tutto aver sortito salutifero fine, subito disparve. E che di lei n’avenisse, mai non si seppe novella alcuna. Ma giudico io che si disfantasse come nelle fantasme sempre avenir suole. (e-book, p. 74)
The Pooavola doll, when it saw the luxurious nuptials of the two sisters, and how everything had come to a happy issue, suddenly disappeared. And what became of it no man ever knew. But I guess that the Pooavola vanished, just like it is in the usual habit of the phantoms. (e-book, p. 75)

A shallow look does not see that magic in fairy tales follows a strict constraint, first because fairy tales must begin and end within a human horizon, as human as their main actants, even if they may have a star on their forehead or be forced into animal forms. The magic appears in a thousand and one shimmering ways. There are many motifs, which we inherited from ancient myths to retell them in contemporary literature and cinema. At the end however the main actant does not need a fairy or magician any more; the magic object is not in her/his hand any more, the witch is defeated, the ogre is far away, the curse that imprisoned the main actant is over and she/he will be free for  ever after. The magic actants with their gifts or damages disappear, like the Poavola, to appear again in another tale, even if turned into a goose.
They vanish, so wrote Straparola, just like dread or glee after a dream, like the shadows of the night that in the darkness scare children, they vanish because they are made of the same stuff of dreams. Their substance is finally revealed to be intimate with our own substance, but it does not confuse itself with everyday life, with the reality that we share with everybody.

The injunction for this tale is the Marsh of the Dereliction, because the story begins with the need of the main actant and her sister that becomes desperate after the death of their mother that was their only parent. Having a female main actant, it is then in the southwest quadrant. (AG)

 Italian languageThe Lost Doll
Marsh of the Dereliction
Northwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

What makes this tale so peculiar, is that the story of the maiden dressed up as a man, travelling around the world, is framed by another story, the tale of the parrot who acts to keep the main actant - a queen - faithful to her king. Here we have a tale within another tale, which comes to the oral Italian dialectal storytellers from a faraway oriental origin (other versions of this fairy tale were collected in Sicily, Tuscany, Sardinia and Calabria). We do not know which road this fairy tale covered, but we know an Indian collection called Śukasaptati, or Seventy tales of the Parrot existing since the 12th century. There is a tale encompassing others tales, a frame story: a parrot tells stories for seventy nights, to keep at home his master’s wife, so that she cannot be unfaithful to him. Some scholars think that Śukasaptati was known in Europe since the Middle Ages, other scholars think that it entered in the European tradition some centuries later. How could the Piedmontese folk storyteller in the 19th century know a fairy tale told in an unknown language? We do not know other subsequent variants of this parrot's story, the charm of which is intriguing. What is more interesting for us is that it gives evidence to one of the main magic virtues of the fairy-tale genre: to cross any boundary of time, space, language, and culture. They live and flourish thanks to the pen of cultivated writers as well as to the speech of illiterate people, giving us a various and abiding pleasure. 

The parentage of our dialectal fairy tale with the Indian collection concerns only the frame story, since the tale told by the Piedmontese parrot has nothing to do with the Eastern ancient collection. It tells of a king’s daughter who is left quite alone, without her beloved doll, and is left to wander the world. She happens to cure many cursed princes before finding the prince who is lovesick for her.
Leaving aside the parrot's frame story, The Lost Doll is in the northwest quadrant of the Map of Succession,
because the main actant is a girl and her journey starts after the loss of her father. Because the princess lacks any mean of survival, her fairy tale begins with the injunction of the Marsh of the Dereliction. The female main actant is robbed of everything, because her father’s enemies killed him, and her doll too is lost. This doll was made exactly like her, with her same features and height, so that she, having no mother or siblings, could have a playfellow. In her dereliction, when nobody can take care of her and she cannot take care of anybody, the poor princess embarks for a long journey. She will finally find her doll and somebody to love: her doll is in the closet of a prince, who had fallen in love and was lovesick with her from the very moment he had seen her doll.

Let us now notice something about this fairy tale, travelling together with the princess disguised as a man, who tests a feminine aptitude: to take care of others. Along her way, she treats ill princes cursed by underworld actants, mainly female ones. The princess can always find out the evil troubling them, watching all the night long over the bewitched prince, then going down a dark and deep place, which may be an underground prison or a cave opening under the prince’s bed. Therefore, this story tells that the princess herself needs to gain experience of the deep link between life and death, to understand how to care the others before, finding her lost doll - her own self. As soon as she discovers it, she meets her prince, and their happy wedding means the par excellence happy and fruitful alliance. We already said that the prince is already in love with her, since when he saw her image, her doll. She has no chance to meet him before achieving her journey, during which she tests herself in the powerful plot of illness and recovery, life and death. When the princess has experienced her power to care male illness, she finds herself. (CC)

Italian languageMadmatt
Marsh of the Dereliction
Northeast quadrant
Map of the Tale 

A magic Tunafish is caught in the web of Madmatt, the main actant of this fairy tale. Its injunction is the Marsh of dereliction, since the activity of the male main actant depends on his poverty: he is not able to provide a living for himself and his mother. You can see their fairy tale in the northeast quadrant, because Madmatt has a male magic helper - the Tunafish - and a powerful antagonist, the king.

The Tunafish is a male helper - let us remember also the phallic symbolism of the fish -, and his aid comes from another world; through this encounter, Madmatt can fill the lack of his father, who has passed away. The confrontation with the king then represents Madmatt facing the human law, which he violated magically impregnating the little princess Juliet.

This fairy tale starts with a prank that repeats itself every day, when Madmatt, coming home in the evening, screams at his mother to take all her containers out to the front of the house so that he can fill them up with his catch. But he never catches anything. Then he makes funny faces, sticking out his incredibly long tongue, triggering the laughter of the little princess, who appears at the window of her castle, angering Madmatt.

Then, one day, Madmatt, who is ugly, clumsy, and unable to fish anything, catches an enormous tuna, and he sets off towards home, happy to bring with him such a big fish. But the fish speaks, asking Madmatt to release him and arguing that eating him he will not be satisfied in the long run, but only once. Since Madmatt does not free him, the Tunafish promises also to give him a lot of fishes, and to make all his wishes come true.

Then Madmatt gives up his need of food and puts the Tunafish back in the water, and following his words he fills up his little boat with so much fish that it nearly sinks. For the first time the poor lad tells the truth, when he  screams that he is bringing a big catch, but his mother, for the very first time, finally refuses take all her containers outside. But her love for him quickly wins her good sense, and the poor woman hurries up to prepare cans, pans, and dishes that Madmatt finally fills up. Nevertheless, the little princess goes on laughing, and Madmatt does not simply rail against her as he used to do: he runs to the shore and calls the Tunafish, who appears in the blink of an eye, ready to fullfill his desire. Madmatt asks the fish to make the princess pregnant with his offspring, and this is said and done.

When the father king learns that his little daughter is pregnant, he does not believe her innocence and sentences her to death. However, the queen intercedes on behalf of their daughter, persuading the king to wait for the birth of the child. When the baby is born, he is so beautiful that the king decides to wait another year, hoping to find a way to find his unknown father. Then he invites all the men of the city for his grandson's birthday, hoping that the child will naturally recognize his father. But the baby does not go to anybody, until he tries to reach a door, behind which is Madmatt, who is feeling too ashamed to enter the hall. When he is ordered to come in, the baby smiles at him and throws his arms around Madmatt's neck. The dismayed king orders to put her daughter, Madmatt and his grandson into a barrel, and throws them into the sea, where they are supposed to quickly die.  

This is a recurring motif, which reminds us of the Greek myth of Perseus, conceived by the princess Danae with the supernatural love of Zeus. Danae's father, the king,  puts her in a casket together with his grandson and throws them into the sea. The king is trying to oppose his destiny: it has been prophecized that his grandsn  would kill him.

The King is dead, long live the King. The flow of the generations following each other includes ageing and death together with birth and growth. The ancestor, the king, tries to dodge this law of life, sentencing to death his descendant, but he inevitably fails. Let us notice that in all myths and fairy tales newborn babies who are abandoned like Perseus always find somebody who rescues them, so that they can grow up beautiful and strong. Moreover, they leave their adoptive parents and return to their unknown parents. There is no chance of dodging one’s destiny, like in our Greek myth, because Perseus accidentally kills the king, without knowing that he is his grandfather.

Instead of the death of the parent who abandoned them, fairy tales tell that the old king abdicates to give the throne to his descendant, finally recognizing her/him as his worthy successor, as happens in the tale The Cockroach, the Mouse and the Cricket.

Let us now go back to our fairy tale, which was first written in Venice by Giovan Francesco Straparola, then retold by Giambattista Basile in his collection. The little princess, Madmatt and their child are in the barrel with “a basketful of bread, a flask of good Chianti and a crate of raisins and figs” (e-book, p. 37). While Madmatt eats and drinks as if nothing bad could happen, the princess gets upset and is busy calming down their baby, giving him some figs. When she asks Madmatt how he can be so indifferent to her and their baby’s suffering, which he caused, and to their mortal danger. Madmatt answers that they are not in danger at all, because he has a magic helper who will make all his wishes come true. Then the princess asks him to share his magic helper with her, and when the Tunafish appears, the princess asks him to lead them to safety on an islet and to change Madmatt into a beautiful wise youth. Then she asks for a wonderful palace, surrounded by an amazing garden with a tree of golden apples.

Leaving aside the tree of the forbidden fruit, which Adam and Eve were quick to taste, we remember in the Greek mythology the golden apples of the garden of the Hesperides. Let us remember also another garden visited by Ulysses, belonging to Alcinous, the happy king of the Phaeacians: every tree of this wonderful garden would always give its fruits, in any season. Thinking of Arabic fairy tales, we remember the trees laden with precious stones of every colour that Alaaddin sees in the underground garden where he is looking for the magical lamp. (See also, about this, Adalinda Gasparini,1993, pp. 81-97).

Some years later, the king and the queen, the parents of our princess, were oppressed by melancholy after having lost their only daughter. So they decided to leave for a pilgrimage by ship, and when they saw that amazing palace, shortly after their departure, they went ashore to visit it. When their daughter, Madmatt and their child welcame them, they did not recognize them.

Then, while the king and the queen were admiring the wonderful garden, looking at the magic tree with three  golden apples hanging from its branches, the princess played a trick on her father, with the help of the Tunafish. A golden apple fell into the clothes of the king, and the princess then asked all the guests to prove that they did not steal the precious fruit. When the golden apple fell from his clothes, the dismayed king proclaimed his innocence. Princess Juliet first pretended not to believe him, and then she said:

I should believe you are innocent about the apple which fell from your  bosom,  but  you  didn't  believe  that  your  daughter was innocent when her child was born!  Now  it  must  be  known: I'm Juliet,  unhappily thrown into the high seas with Madmatt and the child,  all of us condemned to a cruel death by  you". With tears in her eyes Juliet revealed all: "This is the innocent child, born out of no fault of mine, and this is Madmatt, who has become very wise thanks to the power of a fish named Tunafish". (e-book, p. 60)

A child is the offspring, a bud, a fruit, a gem: the Italian word gemma means both gem and bud, by which the plant reproduces itself. Birth is a mystery, both for believers, who know the reality of a magic pregnancy from the Gospel or from the Hindu poem Mahabharata, and for non-believers, who ought to call mystery what they cannot control and master. The king did not give credit to his daughter when she affirmed her innocence; if the queen and his counsellors had not held him back, he would have sentenced her to death as soon as her pregnancy would have become visible. Therefore, he lost his daughter, and his melancholy is the penalty for having attempted to halt the flow of succession. Check. Checkmate, from the Persian shāh māt, means the king is dead. Then a new king ascends to the throne, another game, and another story can start. The defeat of the king is the same defeat of all parents, when they discover the radical alterity of their children, when life takes them away from their control, putting an end to the absolute mastery that they had until that moment exerted.
All parents have the right and the duty to be masters of their little children, but no pedagogical or psychoanalytic theory can ever spare them the narcissistic injury of the parting, when their offspring, becoming a tree with its own fruits, takes a shape that never coincides with her/his parents’ picture of the tree. A coincidence would be the total failure for children, because it would be a negation of the difference. Without this difference, that makes unique every human being, no subject could take shape.

Then the parent’s mirror breaks into pieces, because the chain of the generations lasts thanks to this discontinuity; it is a game of vital conflicts that parent's minds can understand only if they acknowledge and sustain this narcissistic injury. They can come to terms with it only after a long and hard reflection.

In the tale of Madmatt, the king, representing the law, cannot understand magic, just as the king in the fairy tale The Cockroach, the Mouse and the Cricket, because they ignore or condemn whatever goes beyond their mastery. On the contrary, Madmatt puts the Tunafish back into the sea, giving up his first chance to satisfy his and his mother’s hunger: he gives credit to the unrealistic promise of the speaking sea creature. In a similar way, the little princess, in a barrel shaken by the waves, gives credit to Madmatt who is telling her that his magic friend will easily lead them to safety. Then she saves herself together with him and their child, conceived with the magical help of the Tunafish. We find other amazing magical pregnancies, e.g. due to a sea-dragon heart, in the fairy tale The Enchanted Doe. Nevertheless, is there not something magical in every birth, in every child who resembles a man and a woman coming from different families, and ancestors of which every memory is lost?

The art of storytelling, as well as every other art, requires a work of symbolization, looking for nourishment beyond realism: a fabulous nourishment:

But what shall we say to those who have such compassion on my hunger that they counsel me provide myself bread? Certes, I know not, save that, whenas I seek to imagine in myself what would be their answer, an I should of necessity beseech them thereof, to wit, of bread, methinketh they would reply, "Go seek it among thy fables." Indeed, aforetime poets have found more thereof among their fables than many a rich man among his treasures, and many, following after their fables, have caused their age to flourish; whereas, on the contrary, many, in seeking to have more bread than they needed, have perished miserably. (Boccaccio, Day the Fourth; p. 319)

Princess Juliet enriches her father by showing him how Madmatt might look guilty even while being innocent, and life flows again thanks to this ending, with parents who now meet their lost daughter once again. She, the only heir of the king, gets what is due to her, ascending to the throne together with Madmatt. This may happen after events full of risk and magic: living happily forever after in a fairy-tale and in our memory. (AG)

Italian languageMaster Cat or Puss in Boots
Marsh of the Dereliction
Northeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

Antoine Galland was a French scholar who knew Arabic and other ancient and modern languages. He returned to Paris after having spent many years  in  the Middle  East.  People in Paris was already very fond of Perrault’s fairy tales, and Galland, who knew the Arabian tales from The Thousand and One Nights, had a 14th century manuscript of that great collection sent to him from Syria. He translated it, and the first volume was published in 1704, when I happily lived at the court of Versailles and spent time in the salons of the of Versailles and spent time in the salons of the city. Other translated volumes of the collection were published with enormous success until 1715, when both Galland and the Sun King died. The Arabian collection, translated for the first time by Galland into an European language, was then published in many other languages and became Europe’s 17th century best-seller. Well, what has all this got to do with me? Among the first group of tales translated by Galland, I read of a challenge that was just like my story with the ogre!
Wouldn’t you like to listen to this Arabian story?

Kana jama kana…  sorry, this is Arabic. When Galland was reading the Syrian manuscript, I was there, purring next to him…
Once upon a time there lived a fisherman. He was poor and unlucky just like my little master, and he often didn’t even have enough to feed his children. He went on fishing and fishing, and at the end of one of his unlucky days he prayed and cast his net for the last time.
All he got was an old brass vase, and hoping to sell it he started to clean it. When he removed the seal that covered the mouth of the vase, a column of smoke lifted out of its depth and climbed up and up. It reached the clouds, and took the shape of a huge demon, frightening the fisherman, just as the ogre had done with me.
The demon said:
- Choose the kind of death you prefer, because I am going to kill you.
The poor fisherman fell on his knees, begging the demon for his life and for the life of his children, because he was the only one who could feed them.
The demon laughed and said that he did not care for anything or anyone. The fisherman told him that it was not right or generous to give death to his deliverer. That unclean spirit replied that he didn’t care about being right, and least of all about being generous.
- You have to know – he said – that I was generous during the first century of my imprisonment. I thought of making rich forever whoever would have freed me. But nobody came. Then I decided to show to my deliverer the secret treasures hidden underground, but nobody came.
Then I vowed to be the faithful servant of my savior, to make him or her forever happy, but nobody came, and centuries passed. At last I became angry, and I decided to kill my deliverer. And here you are, prepare yourself to die.
The poor fisherman felt that he was lost and soiled himself in fear; this hadn’t happened to him since his childhood! Then he thought that human beings are frail in front of a demon, but they were endowed by God with a mind that makes them greater than any other creature.  He said, quivering:
- Great demon, would you grant a last wish?
The demon nodded.
- I can’t believe that that you could fit in this vase, since I see you now so gigantic that your head brushes against the clouds. Please, almighty demon, show me if you really can reduce your size.
The demon was certain of being invincible, and he changed into a column of smoke that became smaller and smaller as he entered in the vase. The fisherman did not waste a moment, and quickly resealed the brass vase. He was as quick as I was when I grabbed the mouse. Then it was the demon’s turn to beg the fisherman, not to be imprisoned for another thousand years. They found an agreement, and the fisherman became very rich and even a friend of the sultan. There is also a city turned to stone together with all its inhabitants, but there are no fishermen or cats in that part of the story.
(From the e-book Puss Tells her History, pp. 3-41)
(AG; edited with the assistance of DG)

See also the e-kamishibai and the history of this fairy tale (Puss tells her History), which are available via its fairy tale map.

Italian languagePuss in Boots
Marsh of the Dereliction
Southeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

Our Puss in Boots, whose story was first published by Straparola, was told also by Basile, but the ending of his version was very sad so sad for the Cat that she left her Neapolitan last writer.

After that unhappy ending I left Naples and Lombardy and on and on and on I walked. About sixty years later I arrived exhausted in Paris. I was not in the mood to help anyone, least of all  to hold  a  fine conversation, because Basile had made me sure of this: to do good to donkeys you get kicks in exchange.
I also lost my passion for hunting, and I often starved, like so many poor French men and women, while their immensely rich king lived in the Château de Versailles like a fabulous sovereign, amid masked balls and unending escapades. Once I ended up in that realm and I saw miniature ships on the Grand Canal, with the Sun King and his courtiers playing naval combat. I suddenly stood aside when a coach arrived to the gates: the coach stopped before going in, and a lord dismounted and said:
 - Maître chat! Pardon: Madame chat!
He really was talking to me, and invited me to get in his coach. I was uncomfortable, because I was in such a bad state, but I acted nonchalant - a cat can always look fair. Then I bowed slightly and accepted the invite.
The man was Charles Perrault, the Architect of the Sun King and his favorite storyteller. He told me that his majesty loved fairy-tales, and that mine was one of his favorites.
- I would be honored to have you as my guest, - he said, - and since my desire is that you quickly recover, I will order my cook to prepare whatever you wish. Then I’ll commission for you a pair of soft boots and a plumed hat, so that you can come with me to hunt in the Royal Reserve.
Obviously, I accepted. It came again to my mind that fairy tales come true, as I remembered a saying that Basile wrote at the end of one of his stories: do a good deed and then forget it. It seemed to me that when one does something good the reward sooner or later comes: on that gorgeous coach I forgot the donkey’s kicks.
My tale had moved faster than I had myself: Perrault, who had red Straparola and Basile, had written for me a beautiful tale that became the most popular one regarding me.
Sure, I loved Straparola, the first one to write – or perhaps even the inventor of - my tale, and I loved the great Basile, even though if he gave my story an unhappy ending. But I adored the Sun King’s favorite story-teller, Perrault, who made me one of the most famous fairy tale characters ever.
But why did Perrault call me Monsieur? Maybe I had lost all of my femininity by not taking care of my cleanliness anymore.
I have to admit that when Perrault told me that in his version of my tale I was not a she-cat anymore, but had turned into a he-cat, I kept silent for a whole day.
Eventually I came to terms with this change, remembering that the Greek prophet Tiresia, who was born male, changed into female for seven years and then became male again.  I simply did the opposite, because in this tabtale I am a she-cat again, as I had been for Straparola and Basile.
So you can also see how I would never take off my new boots, since they are so comfortable and elegant. Besides this significant change, Perrault made other innovations. Now I belonged to a father, as in Basile’s version, but he was not poor. Maybe the Sun King did not like to listen to stories of extreme poverty, even though many of his subjects were very poor. That father was a miller, and his two elder sons inherited their father’s mill and donkey. And - wouldn’t you have guessed? - the youngest brother inherited only me, a he-cat now, named Puss. This poor lad as well starved, and I decided to change his destiny. I asked him only for a pair of soft boots, to hunt better than ever. I really was a smart hunter, because I could go everywhere with my boots, and my conversation was gracious as if I were speaking with the Sun King.
 I used the same the ruses that you know of already, presenting my preys to the king in the name of my noble master and then arranging for the usual river meeting. Everything worked out for me and for my dear master, now named Marquis de Carabas. After this Perrault gifted me with an episode of my story that had never been written before, which I am proud of more than of my new boots and plumed hat. I think that this new part, that you all know, is even more significant than my new male sex.  In those ancient times a male was held in higher regard than a female. Perrault made me perform the feat of challenging and defeating an ogre.
In the 16th century version of my tale I got mansion and estates for my master thanks to an accident that happened to their true owner. In the 17th century version of my tale, instead, my master bought them with the rich dowry of the princess he married.  In the Perrault's version, finally, we get to the happy ending not just thanks to luck, but thanks to my imagination and smarts. If I had not been able to defeat that stupid ogre, my ruses would have been useless. If the King had known that the Marquis of Carabas actually had neither a mansion nor even a hovel, he would have executed both the lad and me together with him.
Now you might ask: why did Perrault make me perform that feat with that ogre, which fits me just as well as my boots, with the result that I still wear those boots and still challenge the ogre in every tale which tells about me? To answer this question I will tell you a tale belonging to
The Thousand and One Nights, that Europeans were able read for the first time thanks to Antoine Galland, a contemporary of Charles Perrault. (From the e-book Puss Tells her History, pp. 35-49) (AG; edited with the assistance of DG)

See also the movie, the e-kamishibai and the history of this fairy tale (Puss Tells her History), available also via its fairy tale map.

JItalian languageack and the Beanstalk
Marsh of the Dereliction
Southeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

Fabulando offers this renowned tale in an anonymous version (The History of Jack and the Bean-Stalk, London 1807), which declares itself to be the reproduction of a never before published manuscript.
Jack is unable to help his mother meet their needs, and the poor woman decides to sell her cow, which is her last property, so as not to starve. She sends Jack to the market, but the youth stops along the way when he meets a man who shows him some coloured seeds. Jack desires these seeds so much that he gives away his mother's cow in exchange for them. Jack follows his own desire, like the main actants of Pooavola Doll and The Cockroach, the Beatle and the Mouse, even though this looks quite foolish. His mother, whom Jack thought to make happy, becomes furious and throws away the coloured seeds. But the next morning Jack sees in their garden a beanstalk so high that its top rises beyond the clouds. Jack decides to climb the beanstalk to find his fortune, even though his mother tries to deter him. Jack has always lived with his mother, down on the earth. Now he goes up, towards the sky. His mother has never answered his questions about his unknown father, but now he reaches beyond the clouds to a world where an old fairy tells him the truth about his origins. His father was a very rich and generous man, who always thought of doing good for those in need. But an envious ogre, pretending to be poor, took advantage of him, robbed him, and killed him. The old fairy orders Jack to avenge his father, recovering all of his father's treasures. Now Jack has a task that links him to his lost father, and thanks to his cunning he starts carrying it out, despite being full of fear and wanting to be at home with his mother. Jack manages to be hosted by the wife of the ogre, and when the giant is sleeping he steals all of his treasures. First he takes the chicken that lays golden eggs, then two bags of gold and silver coins, and finally a harp which plays itself. While he is fleeing for the third time, the ogre wakes up and runs after him, and although he is slowed by having drunk too much wine, he is about to catch Jack. But the youth, as soon as he touches down on the ground, cuts the Beanstalk which falls down together with the ogre, who is killed. And so Jack frees his mother from any concern, and they can live in peace and prosperity ever after.
The theme of greed and generosity crosses the tale of Jack, who learns of his paternal origin and retrieves what his father had lost. The ogre had cheated, murdered and robbed Jack’s generous father, but the ogre is now duped, robbed and killed by his son, who eventually takes possession of his paternal inheritance.
But nothing would have happened if Jack had not desired and bought the coloured seeds, which are a common and magical food, like the chickpeas of the fairy tale of Little Chickpea. Jack gave all he had for those seeds, although this meant going to bed without supper, and the same thing happened to Adamantina in the fairy tale Pooavola Doll.
Jack, who had been an idler and a slacker, has many fairy tale brothers, actants who do nothing and mooch off their poor mothers. They are unable to find their own way, which would mean growing up, until the time when, following their longing, they manage to obtain a gift, a magical object.
Jack and the Beanstalk tells of the huge cannibal ogre defeated by the young main actant, thanks to his own agility and cunning. It is the ancient eternal motif of the small winning over the large. It happens to David with Goliath, to Ulysses with the Cyclops, and to the youths, who sooner or later defeat the old generation, surviving it. (AG, edited with the assistance of DG)

See also the e-kamishibai of this fairy tale, which is available via its fairy tale map.

Italian languageHumà, the Lucky Bird
Marsh of the Dereliction
 Northeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

The main actant of this fairy tale is a poor woodcutter, and his donor is the magic bird Humà. When the magic bird sees that derelict man sleeping under a tree, he lays a golden egg beside him. The poor man is unaware of the egg’s value, and gives it to a merchant who pays him a pittance. Since the greedy merchant promises him a rupee if the man will bring him the bird who has laid the egg, the woodcutter catches Humà. The Lucky Bird begs him to free him, promising him a priceless jewel if the woodcutter will bring him to his otherworldly family by burning one of the bird's feathers. The main actant is not willing to listen to his donor, as Madmatt does with the talking Tunafish, and he does not give up the prospect of an actual rupee. The woodcutter acts differently from Adamantina who goes to bed without dinner in order to get the Pooavola Doll, as well as from Jack, who gives a cow - his and his mother's last property - for the coloured seeds he desires. Seeing that the bird has died, the woodcutter burns one of his feathers, and suddenly finds himself in the birds' otherworld, where Humà's parents despair over the death of their son. A magic creature turns Humà back to life, and the Lucky Bird rebukes the woodcutter and sends him back to his poverty.
In a European fairy tale the woodcutter unable to listen to a magic donor would end bitterly, condemned to hopeless poverty or to a harsher punishment. Instead, this Kashmir tale goes on to give the poor man another chance, and it gives us too the chance to see an interesting difference between European and Eastern tales regarding generosity and greed.
Humà, the Lucky Bird was collected in Kashmir in 1888 by the Rev. J. Hinton Knowles, and we can recognise a theme that runs throughout the Arabian Nights, the collection that has its roots in the Indo-Iranian area. In the Arabian Nights there are many tales where we find a wise generous King - here named as Caliph Harun ar-Rashid – who is always fair and ready to rescue his subjects and lead the story to its happy ending. In this Kashmir tale the name of this incredibly generous ruler is King Hatam the Noble, and we meet him when the poor woodcutter goes to seek audience with him. The poor man goes to ask this King to help him because he is so poor that his daughters cannot marry, having no dowry at all. But in the meantime, the Noble Hatam had become as poor as the woodcutter. Having nothing else to help the woodcutter, he gives him his only daughter. She is beautiful, and the woodcutter will get what he needs by selling her at the slave market. But along the way they meet another young king who falls in love with the beautiful girl and marries her, giving lots of money to the woodcutter, who finally puts an end to his poverty.
Thus ends the story of the woodcutter, as the main actant of this fairy tale, but the story of generosity goes on, as a new tale springs out of the previous story. One day the young king who married the princess - thinking her the woodcutter's daughter – carries out a generous action, and his wife says that his action is worthy of King Hatam the Noble. When the king asks her how she knows this king, she answers by telling him who she really is, and how her father gave her to the woodcutter. The young king summons the woodcutter, who tells the same story told by the princess, and also tells of his whole adventure with Humà the Lucky Bird. Astonished at first, the young king then summons King Hatam the Noble and asks him to reign in his stead, because he will do it better than himself, who is still inexperienced and too young. Hatam the Noble gets back a kingdom thanks to his royally generous son-in-law, and under such utopic rulers - non-existent in Europeans fairy tales - justice and happiness can triumph throughout the Kingdom. Not even the golden egg laid at the beginning of our story is forgotten. The greedy merchant is ordered to give it to Hatam the Noble, truly worthy of the magic gift of Humà, the Lucky Bird.
This Kashmir fairy tale belongs to an ancient Oriental tradition, which The Arabian Nights inherited and retold in the heyday of Islamic culture: the first manuscripts of the great collection date back to the 14th century. They are still unpublished, except for the manuscript which was freely translated by Antoine Galland (By Muhsin Mahdi, New York 1990).
We can date the birth of European fairy tales as a literary genre back to the 16th century, when Giovan Francesco Straparola inserted some fairy tales - never published before - among the novellas of The Facetious Nights, and we regard The Tale of Tales by Giambattista Basile as the first European fairy tale collection.
Returning to the theme of greed and generosity, we observed above that in European fairy tales the actant unable to receive a magic gift does not attain a happy ending. Western fairy tale actants triumph or fall depending on their responsibility, because in this modern literary genre there is no perfect King to come and save them. We see European fairy tales as a lay collection of human encounters with destiny and unknown powers, a story-telling that cannot count on human rulers to understand human life. Fairy tales, like Thomas Mann’s spirit of storytelling, do not depend on any religious or secular power, and they give stories where human rationality does not remove what it cannot master. We follow the tradition that names their protagonists as actants, because their tale depends on their acts, not on their name, origin, or psychological features, which are always undefined. For these reasons they can be a form storytelling befitting of our time. They are today the main narrative structure of many novels (e.g. many Postcolonial Novels) and many TV series, followed episode by episode all over the world. (See also, about this issue, Il romanzo new global. Storie di intolleranza, fiabe di comunità, by S. Albertazzi and A. Gasparini, Pisa 2003; see also Malefincent & Co, by Claudia Chellini, 2015 and Nelle fiabe a passo di danza, by Claudia Chellini, 2016). (AG, edited with the assistance of DG)

Italian languageThe Golden Goose
Marsh of the Dereliction
Northeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

The Grimm Brothers, who knew well Basile's Tale of Tales, tell about the story of three brothers who, one by one, went to cut wood in the forest. They encountered a little grey man, who asked them to share with him their omelette and their wine, because he was hungry and thirsty. The two elder brothers refused, saying, “What I give you I lose myself, so be off with you”. (The Golden Goose, e-book, p. 17) The youngest instead, named the Simpleton, welcomed the little old man to sit beside him and share his food. So he received a magic gift, while the elder brothers had had to run home after they wounded themselves with their axes.
In fairy tales, where the main actants are poor and gullible youths and get a magical gift, like a doll or a goose with golden feces or eggs, the narrative unfolds around the generosity of the main actants and the greed of their antagonists.
Reading the Russian story The Duck with Golden Eggs, we observe the naive Little Ivan, who benefits from magic, and the greedy swindling begger, who does not draw anything from it. Common sense easily understands this opposition as concerning good and evil characters, within a moralizing story telling of reward and punishing. This current moral standard misses a more precious meaning, which we are going to understand looking at the little grey man of The Golden Goose, the donor actant of this fairy tale.
We begin mentioning the gospel about the Day of Judgment, when the Son of Man will separate the righteous from the unrighteous, awarding the first and punishing the seconds to eternity.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (Matthew 25, 35-36)

The righteous, invited to His right side, ask when they did all this, and the King of Heavens answers,

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (Ibid. 25, 40)

The unrighteous who must go to His left, punished because they never met Him, pose the same question and receive the same answer: when they did not take care of a little brother or sister of His, they rejected the Son of God Himself.

The events of fairy tales happen in a far away space, a long time ago. About this time and space, it is told that others have told others, in a long chain of storytellers, until the present narrator. There is no direct witness for the fairy tale’s events, no authority for their truth, which is only a feeling, shared between teller and listener. Everything happens and has worth within the fairy-tale, between its opening and closing formulas.
Gifts and punishments, risks and solutions, spells and incantations, pomp or nefarious magic, unfold within the story, which never refers to any external world.
Reward and punishment are given to those who deserve them within the fairy tale, which is the only time and space for the Simpleton, the little grey man and the other actants.

Let’s now go back to the fairy tale, where the little grey man tells the Simpleton to cut a tree and take what he will find among its roots for himself. The magic donor never postpones a gift to a time and space external to the narrative itself, this makes the main difference between the fairy-tale genre and the religious stories or parables.
The inclination toward the other, to see in the other one's own need or pain, forms the Simpleton as well as any fairy tale main actant, from the moment in which they meet the other who asks them a question, or something to eat and to drink. The other always appears small and weak, and the actants who follow common sense do not stop to listen to him or her, because they do not look by no means able to give anything to anyone. The naïve actants give all the little they have without thinking of a reward, so accessing to the experience of the sacred. Here we hear an echo of the words of the Gospel.
In fairy tales the magic power that allows the actant to reach a happy ending, often springs from something which looks insignificant, like the little brothers or sisters of whom God tells when he speaks to the righteous and to the unrighteous (see above).
The ingenuity of the youngest brother is introduced as a gullibility, he is ridiculed, and called the Simpleton. His two older brothers, following common sense, adhere to the concrete measure of what they have, like their omelette and wine, and they reject the little grey man, saying, “What I give you I lose myself, so be off with you" (quoted above). For the Simpleton’s elder brothers it is a foolish thing to give away what belongs to them, sharing it with somebody in need. The hungry and thirsty little grey man looks unable to give something in exchange, like a beggar asking alms. Only a naïve actant, named the Simpleton, can be generous with him, and the little he gives to the grey man is not lost, because in the ethics of fairy tales one’s treasure comes from the act of sharing or giving one’s wealth to others.
So, we can understand the Simpleton’s compassion, remembering its ethymological meaning, feeling and suffering together with the other (Latin cum – with - and patio – passion, feeling, and suffering). The naïve main actants who share or give the other their own food, represent the human disposition to see in the other their own passion, feeling, and suffering. It is an experience enriching the actants who give something up to another, on condition that they do not expect anything in return for whatever they generously give the other. This human disposition is always naïve.
When the naïve main actants share their food, however little, they get the chance of a magic endowment, as we can read in the fairy tale of Flower and Flowerstem, just like we are doing in this story of the Simpleton.

The little grey man rewards the youth who shared his own food with him, showing him a tree that he must break down, and among its roots he will find a gift for himself. The donor actant here gives no statement about what the Simpleton should do with the golden goose that he will find, and we see our Simpleton who simply takes the animal in his arms and goes to an inn. Here a girl tries to snatch one of the golden goose’s feathers, but she finds herself attached to the magic animal, and when her sister tries to pull her away from the goose, she attaches herself to her sister.
This magic attachment is the same as that of the Pooavola Doll to the king’s bottom, told by Straparola, and the same retold by Basile about a goose and a royal bottom. The Grimm Brothers, retelling this tale, changed this magic power, removing the embarrassing scatological trend of both Italian fairy tales.
The day after, the Simpleton gets on his way with the golden goose in his arms, no matter who is attached to his magic animal, and the two girls must walk and run behind him. Whoever tries to free the girls, attaches him or herself to them, and the same happens on and on along the road. The Simpleton goes hither and thither holding his golden goose without bothering the people who unwillingly follow him, until this procession is so funny that a melancholic princess laughs for the first time in her life as soon as she sees it.
In many fairy tales it happens that a silly poor actant succeeds in healing a sad princess, while doctors and magicians had been unable to do it. Like Nardiello in the fairy tale The Cockroach, the Mouse and the Cricket, the Simpleton wins the hand of the princess, but, like Nardiello, he faces the hostility of the father king, who tries to get rid of a son-in-law who does not look at all suitable for his daughter. Nardiello overcomes all obstacles thanks to his magic little animals, and the Simpleton overcomes the tasks imposed on him by the king, asking and getting the magic help of the little grey man.
You find this fairy tale in the northeast quadrant, because there is a male main actant who sets off thanks to a paternal magic donor. Its injunction is the Marsh of the Dereliction, due to the poverty and dullness of the main male actant. (AG)

                                                          languageThe Youth and the Lamp
Marsh of the Dereliction
Southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

In the beautiful collection of folk stories Novellistica italo-albanese (1967), one finds a richness of motifs and combinations largely unheard of. One wonders how it has been possible that a small people, separated from its original country, and surrounded by Italians for four centuries, were able to maintain and develop such a rich art of story telling.
There are many cross-references, giving us original and different stories from other southern Italian traditions. The works to which we are regularly reminded are The Tale of Tales of Giambattista Basile and The Thousand Nights and One Night. The fairy tale we wanted to enclose in Fabulando tells of the folk variant of our beloved Alaaddin. (See also: Adalinda Gasparini, Aladino e la lampada meravigliosa,1993)
The main character is here named just as the youth, the Sultan is here simply the king, and princess Badr al-Budur (Full Moon of Full Moons) is here named the king's daughter or the youth's bride. The lamp is never said to be magic, and no jinn comes out of this magic object. But it is no less powerful than its literary sister: it tells of the wonderful castle built in only one night for the young protagonist, and of the evil magician ordering the lamp to carry the castle in the middle of the sea.
Like his analogous figure in the original version by Antoine Galland, the magician here obtains the wonderful lamp by exchanging new lamps for old ones. Alaaddin is one of the fairy tales told by the Maronite Hannà from Aleppo to Galland, as well as The Bird Bulbul Hezar, available here in Fabulando.
The oral story teller did not tell why the magician had imprisoned Aladdin in his well, where the youth by chance finds the lamp, or why he wants to take the youth's golden palace, his bride and his mother. This lack is precious because it is evidence of the literary source of the story, as well as of the popular skill of taking motifs and characters from the cultured tradition. It is the democracy of fairy tales, their true magic.

You find this Arbëreshë fairy tale in the southeast quadrant, because the young male actant sets off following the magician. Its injunction is the Marsh of the Dereliction because the tale begins with such a poverty, that the magician can cajole the young main actant into following him. (AG)

                                                          languageThe Goose
Marsh of the Dereliction
Southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

The first thing we ask ourselves reading this fairy tale by Basile, who retells Straparola's Pooavola Doll, is why the Neapolitan writer replaced the magic doll with a goose.
Both Basile and Straparola tell of a magic being showering the bed of her poor but kind owner with golden coins, while she showers with foul-smelling excrements the sheet of the greedy and envious woman who stole the doll from her owner.
The story can concern the equation between money, gold, and feces, which the child experiences during the anal stage. Parents usually experience the obstinacy with which their child imposes its management of the only product it can master by itself, and its true despair when a little enema forces it to capitulate. From this experience, parents could obtain the basic elements to understand the power games with which humans dominate and submit each other, if only they would carefully observe their children during this stage.

Even if fairy tales do not stop at theboundaries of time and space which govern the measures and rhythms of our waking life, it is not easy to imagine that a goose may be suitable for the function already fulfilled by the rag doll. Nevertheless, if a doll and a goose can shower their dear mistress' white linen with gold, both can also stick - one with its teeth, the other with its beak - to the royal bottom, and keep it until their loving mistress doesn't convince them to leave alone the king and jump into her arms.
We like to think that the Neapolitan Basile did not know the meaning of the Venetian poavola (bambola, doll), and that he associated the magic helper of Straparola’s fairy tale with an ancient gifter of golden eggs. The Greek Aesop and the Latin Phaedrus told this fable, which has since been retold many times as a moral exemplum. Two gold donors met, a Venetian rag doll giving golden coins instead of excrements, with an ancient - but evergreen - hen that laid golden eggs. Thanks to this encounter, an ancient hen or goose giving golden coins can fill with excrements the antagonist's bed and stick to a royal bottom with her beak, like the rag doll, the Venetian Poavola.
From the cloacas of the hen and goose come excrements and eggs, which become golden eggs or coins in fairy tales. In the little childrens' fantasies the anal orifice overlaps with the genital one, giving room to the overlapping of precious products - babies, golden coins -, to be kept, and stinking products, to be eliminated. Listening to the children's fantasies about how babies are born is the easiest way to see this overlapping .
Children enjoy this tale, almost as if they were engaged in the defence of their management of their anal product, which is so precious because it is the only one which depnds exclusively on them. They like the great value of the doll’s and goose’s evacuation, when they still
cannot accept the grown-ups’ disgust and contempt for the only product of their own body.
In many languages the vulgar term for feces is used to disparage a person, an object, a situation. The magic creature, be it a doll or a goose, realizes the fantasy of the child, who gives immense value to its feces, against its parents' contempt. Moreover, this fairy-tale donor, who is just a little doll or a barnyard bird that can be thrown into the trash, has such power that the king and all his servants and doctors cannot prevent it from remaining attached to the royal bottom.
The Goose continues like Pooavola Doll, with the same humble and naïve main actant who frees the king from the torment that the animal is inflicting on him. The younger sister recognizes and greets her Goose.

“O Chubby, my little Chubby!”
The Goose, hearing the voice of the girl who beloved her, at once released her grip, running jumped in her arms, and caressed her and gave her lots of kisses. She did not care a fig about losing the bottom of a king, preferring the mouth of a country maid.
(The Goose, e-book, p. 26; our translation) (AG)

Italian languageThe Duck with Golden Eggs
Marsh of the Dereliction
Southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

This Russian story was collected by an anonymous English folklorist at the end of the 19th century. It tells of a derelict youth who becomes the tsar in a manner paralleled in many stories of the Arabian Nights. When there is no heir left to the throne, the dignitaries and people of the kingdom go out of the town gates to give the crown to the first man they will see coming from the desert. It is an odd method, like the one adopted by the king of Frog, Frog to give a wife to his three sons. This king gave his sons three golden balls that the princes were supposed to let roll; they were then to choose their brides from wherever the balls stopped. In another Russian tale the main actant finds his way by throwing a ball of yarn and following it. Little Ivan, the main actant of this fairy tale, eats a roasted duck ignoring that it is the magic animal who laid golden eggs. His father banishes him, not knowing that his wife had killed the magic duck for an apprentice who knew that by eating it one would become the tsar. Leaving home as a young derelict, Little Ivan then becomes the tsar. Greedy, cheating and envious figures never get a happy ending, at least in fairy tales.

If we read this fairy tale - together with those we collected in the Tour of the Derelict Youths - as an apologue on generosity and greed, telling only that the naive innocent youth is rewarded, while the envious greedy actant gets no gift or is punished, we stop merely at the surface of this story. We would thus risk losing its lively and dynamic value, which has nothing to do with any moralizing and edifying teachings.
Fairy tales are narrative maps concerning the journey of the subject facing fate. The latter is, story after story, personified by objects, magic animals or human beings endowed with mysterious powers. Living means also facing the happy or tragic events that happen to us, regardless of our faults or merits. Events are refractory to any rational explanations, and their logic does not obey the principle of non-contradiction. They are like birds, and our indexes are cages that we build to grasp them. But events change size and shape like the dwellers of fairy tales, and when we think we have mastered them, they leave us and fly far away. If we then do not give up our cage, we work with dead simulacra of fairy tales.
Concerning the naivete of those who benefit from the magic, we can observe that they are actants who do not measure what they encounter, be they objects, animals or humans, by the yardstick of common sense. Seemingly naïve, they come into play by suspending the rational criteria and common calculation that guide their antagonists - e.g. the roundsman preferred by the mother of Little Ivan. Their nature enables them to interact with favourable and unfavourable forces, which manifest themselves in every life. No common sense can really measure or order them. (AG)

 Italian languageCat Cinderella - by the Authors of Fabulando
Tower of the Segregation
Southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

This version of Cinderella is the story that we retold and animated in the app Cat Cinderella, available for free on the App Store. We intertwined the stories of Zezolla, then called Gatta Cennerentola (Basile, 1634-36; Cat Cinderella. First Published Version, 17th century), of Cendrillon (Perrault, 1697), of Cinderella (Walt Disney, US 1950) and of a Florentine Cenerentola (Imbriani, 1877). Whatever our explicit desire, in reality we always change something when we retell a story, combining various details from different tales that we remember from our childhood. There are however some constant features in each version of Cinderella: a motherless girl who must submit to her stepmother and stepsisters, who then meets the prince thanks to the help of a fairy and escapes from him, the prince who eventually finds her thanks to the shoe she lost, and finally their happy marriage.
These stories have variations that make each of them
unique, and we retold our tale combining these variations, so as to compose an original new version of the world's most famous fairy tale. We also followed another beautiful version of Cinderella, told in pictures by Arthur Rackham; it is a masterpiece from which we drew and reworked the illustrations that we put on each page of this e–book. To know which features we drew from the different versions mentioned above, see, on the website Fairitaly, Una fairy tale tutta nuova e tutta antica. Lettura narratologica, by Claudia Chellini, part of the app Cat Cinderella).

We would now point out some features of our new tale, which with pleasure we found in the film Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh and produced by Walt Disney Pictures (US, 2015).
The first feature concerns the role of the prince. In our tale the prince is very determined: he imposes his choice on his royal parents, who then help him to look for his beloved.

Marian Roalfe Cox, a member of the London Folklore Society, published in 1893 a book which is very important for anyone who wants to study the story of Cinderella. She collected three hundred and forty five versions of this tale, divided into five broad types. One of these types includes Catskin and Donkey Skin (see also, for another short account of Donkey Skin, the Castle of Forced Love). In this type, the main male actant, who is a determined prince, falls in love with a girl who wraps herself up in a dirty animal skin, after catching a glimpse of her beauty while she is wearing her wonderful secret gowns. He recruits the help of his royal parents to reveal her for what she really is and happily marry her.

In his film, Kennet Branagh depicts a wilful prince, determined enough to find his own way to inherit his father’s throne. He loves and respects his father, but nevertheless he faces up to him, reasserting his wish to marry the girl he once met while hunting, instead of the princess that he should marry for reasons of state.
The second feature concerns the animals that the fairy turns into the crew of the coach which will take Cinderella to the ball. In the film directed by Branagh, there are two green lizards who turn into valets. These animals do not appear in the first Disney version (1950), while we find them in the story told by
Charles Perrault and in the illustrations by Arthur Rackham, where there are six lizards. The English artist devotes to the lizards a particular space, thoroughly drawing their transformation and ornating the cover and some inside pages with many little lizards. We love this little animal, and it recurs in our version as well, except for the fact that we have chosen to turn only one little reptile into a valet. 
This little animal is a leitmotiv in our app Cat Cinderella, appearing on the home page and in many inside pages; the lizard with its symbolic value stresses Cinderella’s side connected with the cinders of the fireplace. Before the ball, Cinderella's only friends are mice, traditionally regarded as dirty animals, and lizards, little scary reptiles. The presence of these dirty or scary animals may seem like a detail, but it characterizes the tale of Cinderella, who moves between two sides, the darkness of the cinders and the brightness of her beauty. To remove from these animals any uncanny (unheimliche) features, means reducing one of the two sides of Cinderella, thus impoverishing the total significance of the fairy tale.

In addition, Branagh, like Rackham, gives the lizard-valets a particular space, making them into funny characters that however hold an uncanny feature. As men, they have a translucent greenish skin, yellow green gloves that recall little paws and sharp animal teeth. We see one of them catching a flying bug with his long snappish tongue, just before midnight, when Cinderella returns to the coach.
The third and last feature concerns the end of our story, after the happy wedding. We tell that the fairy, seeing that everything was successful, flew away on her broom, and in our last illustration she merges into the moon. We drew our inspiration from the
lovely ending of the 16th century fairy tale Pooavola Doll,

The Pooavola doll, when it saw the luxurious nuptials of the two sisters, and how everything had come to a happy issue, suddenly disappeared. And what became of it no man ever knew. But I guess that the Pooavola vanished, just like it is in the usual habit of the phantoms.  (Pooavola Doll, e-book, p. 75)

Kenneth Branagh gives his Cinderella a kind of closing formula, that he does not draw from Disney's old version. He entrusts the fairy with the task of ending the story, and the fairy is now blue like the sky that fills the last shot of his film. With the fairy and the sky, a sky we drew from Rackham, we composed the last image of our app-tale and of our e-book.

See also the app-tale (Cat Cinderella) and the e-kamishibai of this fairy tale, which are available via its fairy tale map.
We introduced Rackham's lizards in this page too, where they are holding up the notice coming soon.

Italian languageCat Cinderella - First Published Version, 17th century
Tower of the Segregation
Southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

If you search “Cinderella” on Google, you get nearly 100.000.000 results. If you then write “Cinderella shoes”, you get 13.400.000 results, and you can buy Cinderella slippers or shoes made of plexiglass, to wear on your wedding day or at a masked ball. Looking for “Cinderella wedding” we get 16.000.000 results, with websites offering a Cinderella gown, a pumpkin coache and slipper-shaped wedding favors (accessed 28/05/15).
Among the very special shoes realized under the name of Cinderella, let us remember the sandals with diamonds displayed at the 2002 Oscar Night, whose value was 2.000.000 dollars (see, http://ohtopten.com, Stuart Weitzman, Cinderella slippers; accessed 13/05/16). In 2015, the Walt Disney Company collaborated with nine luxury designer shoe brands, to make nine glass slippers that women could actually wear, with a price ranging from nearly 1.000 dollars to little more than 3.000  (see http://www.fashiongonerogue.com, Nine designers recreate Cinderella’s glass slipper; accessed 13/05/16). The costume designer Sandy Powell realized together with Swarovski the crystal shoe  that we see in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, when the prince holds it or when it is on a velvet pillow. The lead actress, whose feet are not little at all, wears a pair of leather shoes whose shape is the same as the crystal one, which are made to look transparent like glass thanks to special effects. (See http://www.instyle.com, Cinderella’s Costume Designer Spills the Secrets Behind Making This Fairytale a Reality; accessed 13/05/16)
Other objects emerge from fairy tales into reality, as everyday objects, gadgets or toys; let us think of Aladdin’s lamp, fairies’ magic wands, gingerbread houses like the one eaten by Hänsel and Gretel. If we were to add together all the real objects coming from fairy tales, their number would however be smaller than the total number of different versions of Cinderella slippers.

We know they are a symbol, an important one; the perfect correspondence between shoe and foot reminds of the ring-finger correspondence, in engagement and in marriage, like in a perfect erotic intercourse. The women’s love for shoes tells of their wish to grant a privileged care to the lower side of their body. The foot, with its mobility and the possibility to move oneself that it gives, compensates for the lack of the male organ being the bodily signifier of the phallus. High and very high heels – the top stylists in 2015 only  created very high-heeled Cinderella glass slippers – stress the worth of the foot as a strong and stiff appendix.
Branagh’s film, with its two versions of Cinderella’s shoe, a small crystal one and a bigger pair of leather ones, whose transparency depends on special effects, is the last representation of the contradictory complexity carried by this successful motif from Perrault onwards.
The motif of a shoe found by a sovereign, who falls in love with its unknown owner, dates from the 6th century b. C., when a precious slipper stolen from the beautiful Rhodopis dropped on the head of Pharaoh Amasis II. The ancient Chinese fairy tale of Ye Xian (9th century) tells the whole story of Cinderella, including the little shoe, which is here a golden sandal, so small that it could only fit the foot of the main actant, who has the smallest feet in the realm. The ruling ideal of very small feminine feet induced the Chinese custom to apply painfully tight binding to the feet of young girls to prevent further growth, even causing them lifelong disabilities. This ideal of beauty could correspond to the wish to reduce the size of the feminine phallic side, to reassure her future husband about his own supremacy.
Nonetheless, in the story told by Branagh’s film, which is the most recent version of Cinderella’s fairy tale, as well as in our app-tale Cat Cinderella (2014), the size of the slipper is not important. There are some versions of this story, even folktales, telling that the precious slipper did not fit women who tried it on, because their foot was larger or smaller than Cinderella's. Cinderella’s slipper became very small from Perrault onwards: Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufle de verre (1697). Nevertheless this size is not the smallest one, like in the Chinese ninth-century tale. The king’s announcement said: the prince would marry her whose foot this slipper would fit (il épouserait celle dont le pied serait bien juste à la pantoufle. Perrault, Cendrillon, Wikisource, accessed 13/05/16) and we only read of her stepsisters’ feet that were too big. Cendrillon is asked to try on the slipper right after her two sisters, and is helped by the royal chamberlain, and putting the slipper to her foot, he found that it went on very easily, fitting her as if it had been made of wax. (Il fit asseoir Cendrillon, et approchant la pantoufle de son petit pied, il vit qu'elle y entrait sans peine, et qu'elle y était juste comme de cire. Ibidem). A little foot, as soft as wax, combines the Chinese ideal, which at all costs wanted to reduce the woman’s phallic appendix – the fetishists have no doubts about this interpretation of the foot – with the reassurance that she would never try to vie with her husband.
The Grimm Brothers, whose Cinderella is titled Aschenputtel, treasured both Perrault's Cendrillon and Basile’s first version of the tale, Cinderella Cat, (La Gatta Cennerentola), and they stressed the part of the shoe-fitting test. Here the shoe is made of gold. In this version, when the prince comes to Ashenputtel’s house, her two stepsisters seize the shoe and go off to try it on with their mother. Since it is too small for the elder one, her mother suggests her to cut off her big toe, “Cut off your toe. When you are queen you will no longer have to go on foot” (Hau die Zehe ab: wenn du Königin bist, so brauchst du nicht mehr zu Fuß zu gehen. Aschenputtel oder Das gläserne Pantöffelchen, Spiegel online Kultur-Project Gutenberg, accessed 13/05/16). The stepsister cuts her toe and wears the golden shoe, but the prince, looking at the blood dripping from the shoe, discovers the hoax and sends her back. The younger stepsister has the same problem with the golden shoe, and she follows her mother’s analogous advice, “Cut a piece off your heel. When you are queen you will no longer have to go on foot (Hau ein Stück von der Ferse ab: wann du Königin bist, brauchst du nicht mehr zu Fuß gehen. Ibidem) Again, the prince understands he has been swindled from the blood, and brings the second stepsister back too. He then insists on seeing another girl, even though the stepmother says that she is too ugly and dirty for him. Ashenputtel is finally revealed to the prince, and the golden shoe fits her perfectly.
Bruno Bettelheim interprets the stepsisters’ blood dripping from the shoe as menstrual blood, so the fact that Ashenputtel’s foot is not bleeding would mean that she had not yet had her first menstruation, and this undoubtedly proves her virginity. Bettelheim’s interpretation reminds us of the loathing for menstrual blood, the poisonous substance par excellence, the opposite of spermatic fluid, which was supposed to be the most noble and precious bodily substance (see also, about this medical mythology, Storytelling and Science). Following the phallic meaning of the foot, we would think that the performance that female and male actants play around the foot/penis would become impossible as soon as there is a real amputation, cutting the woman’s toe or heel.
Cinderella’s stepmother urges her daughters to castrate themselves, saying that if they become queens they will not need to walk, like the poor Chinese girls whose feet were deformed to keep them to a small size. A woman should give up her autonomy – standing and walking on her own feet – to become a queen; this is a sacrifice of her autonomous/phallic aptitude, so that she will attribute it to her husband and her sons. This is a way to get married, but the story of Cinderella tells quite a different story.

Let us now remember the gesture by which a male hand puts the glass slipper on Cinderella’s foot, presented in every film following Disney’s 1950 movie. The director presents a male character, the prince or one of his servants, who kneels down to allow Cinderella to perfectly fit her foot – representing a phallic appendix – with its receptacle – a symbol of the female genital. There is something so charming and precious in the fact that a real slipper could reach the very real price of two million dollars. The suitor acknowledges the performance of the female main actant, who could hold both the content and the container; moreover, he chooses her precisely because she can act this out. The prince thus legitimizes the female desire not to be captured by the male, and to be able instead to escape from his capture.
  We can identify Cinderella and her ancestors through this perfect correspondence between shoe and foot, constantly told of since ancient  Egyptian and ninth-century Chinese tales. The king who recognizes Cinderella through the slipper test, represents the acknowledgement of her completeness, and personifies a male desire for a woman whose femininity does not depend on any amputation. This male subjectivity does not depend on a lack of the female one.

Let us now look at 17th century Neapolitan Cat Cinderella (La Gatta Cennerentola), which is the prototype of all the modern Cinderella variants. We see that the main actant does something terrible, something which is still present in some folk versions, but disappears from Perrault onwards. The main female actant's mother is dead, and her father, who is a prince, loves his only daughter very much, but has remarried a woman who does not please her step-sister. The girl has a sewing teacher who is always kind and affectionate with her, and suggests her how to get rid of her stepmother. If the girl follows her instructions, she can then persuade her father to marry her sewing teacher, getting the ideal mother she longs for. Following her teacher's advice, Cinderella drops a chest’s cover on her stepmother’s neck, and after her death, she persuades her father to marry the sewing teacher, who promised to grant all her desires.
Cinderella is an actant who refuses to see herself and her mother as whole human beings, idealizing herself and demonizing the stepmother who frustrates her step-daughter instead of satisfying her. The childhood's totally good mother - existing just in her little daughter's idealization - fades when the girl grows up, and her place is taken by a faulty mother, who can not - or will not - please her. Therefore, Cinderella turns against her a boundless aggressiveness. Basile’s 17th century story represents this hatred through a matricidal action . After the new stepmother's arrival, the girl enjoys one week of absolute satisfaction, followed by a situation much worse than the previous one.
The female actants demanding an ideal parent or partner end up in the throes of their opposite: a cruel mother, a beast or monster husband, decay, segregation, humiliation. Cinderella's ex-teacher brings home her six daughters – from Perrault on reduced to two stepsisters – who take everything away from her, even her place in the heart of her father. The little motherless daughter of a prince, who required a made-to-measure mother, and without any hesitation killed her first stepmother, has now to move from the hall to the fireside, and leave her sceptre to take up the spit. She loses the exclusive love of her father, who is now interested only in her stepsisters, and eventually she looses her own name.
She has no other place than the hearth, where she always gets dirty with dust, so, they call her Gatta Cennerentola (according to Basile), Cendrillon in France (according to Perrault) Ashenputtel in Germany (according to the Grimm Brothers), Cenerentola in Italy, and Cinderella in English. Curiously, her English name sounds like the name she was given in the 18th century Bolognese translation: Cindrella.
The matricide committed by Cinderella has been understandably removed, but her name and look keep the colour and the substance of penance and grieving, the same colours as the cinders that we see in Catholic Churches on Ash Wednesday. It is the first day of Lent, the time of penance lasting until the Resurrection of Easter.

Regarding the footwear, there is an important difference between the most known version and Basile's one. In the time of the great writer of fairy tales, the Neapolitan women wore lo chianiello, a fashionable very high overshoe, which could increase a woman's stature by one handbreadth and a half. This is one of the things that the enamoured king says when he speaks to the chianiello that slipped away from the foot of the unknown beauty.

Thou wert the covering for a white foot, and now art thou the pulled of this blackened heart; by thee stood thy fellow, one handbreadth and a half taller, who is the tyrant of this life of mine ; and by thee groweth so much sweetness in my soul, whilst I gaze upon thee and possess thee ! (Cat Cinderella, e-book, pp. 62-63)

The first footwear of Cinderella had nothing to do with glass, golden slippers, or sandals that we now imagine for her feet. What is very important is that Gatta Cennerentola's chianiello has no particularly little size: Basile simply tells us that nobody could put it on, until the king placed it near the one to whom it belonged: just as iron runs to the magnet, the chianiello flew to Cinderella’s foot, fitting it perfectly.

Sixty years after the publication of the Tale of Tales, Charles Perrault retold Basile’s story, entitling it Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufle de verre. Could Cinderella have gone to the gala ball, where the crown prince – a king in Basile's version - was going to choose his wife, with just slippers on? Could the Fairy Godmother have dressed her like a queen without changing her house shoes? Of course not. These slippers are indeed made of verre, glass slippers in English. Regarding the material, they hypothesized a misspelling on Perrault's side who would have given Cinderella pantoufles, slippers made of vair, that in French sounds like verre. To go to the ball wearing pantoufles/slippers made of vair, a very precious fur, could be sensible, but what does it mean to wear glass ones? With regard to this issue, prominent figures like Honoré de Balzac gave their opinion, opting for the fur, even if this rational argument leaves unsolved the pantoufles/slippers issue, still unsuitable for a gala ball.
As far as I know, nobody thought that Perrault had used a literal translation of the Neapolitan chianiello, which in Basile’s time meant that fashion overshoe, but usually means slipper, a shoe to wear at home. Other personalities, like Anatole France, observed that if it is possible for a pumpkin to become a coach, it is just as possible for Cinderella to dance with glass slippers: as transparent as spring water, as rock crystal and as diamond. (See also: Wikipedia, Controverse sur la composition des pantoufles de Cendrillon; accessed 14/05/15).
The mythology of Cinderella’s slippers maintains its great charm, inspiring nowadays the best stylists in the world, and it depends on the symbolic meaning of the slippers, about which we have already written above. But it enriched itself through this incongruity of Perrault: glass is a material impossible to wear and walk in, even less to dance in, and the slippers (pantoufles) are shoes for the house, that Cinderella wears when she finally leaves the darkness to shine in front of her royal suitor.
Basile lead his Gatta Cennerentola to enchant the king on the promenade, Perrault leads her to the gala ball and assures us that she made a grand entrance in the royal hall, and then she danced so very gracefully that they all adired her more and more  (Elle dança avec tant de grace qu’on l’admira encore davantage. [Perrault, Cendrillon).

Perrault introduces another detail becoming an integral part of the tale, telling that at midnight Cinderella’s gorgeous gown, golden coach and its crew would change back into rags, pumpkin, mice and green lizards. In Basile’s tale Cinderella grows a tree from the magic date that the dove of the fairies sent her with golden tools to cultivate it; when the date palm is as high as a woman, a fairy comes out of the tree asking her “What wilst thou?”. Cinderella wants to go to the promenade but her stepsisters should not know it. Then a crowd of dressmakers, jewellers and make-up artists comes out from the date palm together with a beautiful horse, to dress her up like a queen. When she is ready, the fairy teaches her a magic formula to get undressed, which she can say, changing the last words, when she will again decide to get dressed and go to the promenade. Nothing forces her to leave the promenade at a certain time. There is no encumbrance forcing Cinderella or stating how many times she could ask the date palm to get dressed and undressed. 

"My date-tree tall and golden,
With a golden mattock I dug thee around,
With a golden bucket I watered thee,
With a silken towel I wiped thy dry :
Undress thyself and robe thou me / Undress thou me, and robe thyself"

(Cat Cinderella, e-book, quoted above. p. 41)

The Fairy Godmother of Perrault, who imposes the midnight limit, corresponds to a more passive Cinderella, having however the same charm, considering also the triumphant happy ending, common to all versions of her tale.
What belongs only to Basile’s tale is a particular stress on the king's sensitivity. He invited all the women of the city to dine with him,  noble and commoner, rich and poor, old and young, wives and maidens, beautiful and ugly (Ibid., p. 65), and he tries lo chianiello, on the foot of each of them. Since he does not find the one he is looking for, the king invites for the second time all the women, reminding his subjects that all have to come, bar none. Then Cinderella’s father says that he has another daughter, but she is so clumsy and negligible that she should not sit at the king’s table. Said the king, 'Let this be the very one at the head of all: such is my desire.' (Ibid., pp. 69-71). Thus, the following day, Cinderella comes to the lunch, together with her six stepsisters. As soon as the king sees her he has a feeling that she is the one he is seeking, but he says nothing.
After lunch he tries again to fit the shoe on the foot of each woman, and when he approaches Cinderella, the chianiello flies from the king's hands to Cinderella’s foot, fitting it perfectly. Then the king makes her sit under a canopy, crowns her and commands all women to bow to Cinderella, who is now their queen.

To the tender puppet theatre of the fairy tale, the genius of Basile gives notes of humanity, which make his fairy tales the masterwork of the European fairy-tale literary genre.
Nevertheless, if Perrault had not given Cinderella her true but impossible glass slippers to dance in, Walt Disney could not have animated his marvellous ball, when all the guests step aside to let Cinderella and her prince waltz alone. At that moment, only they exist, finding each other with the same easy reciprocity with which the slipper  will finally fit her foot. Everything happens in an easy way, corresponding to the quick way she loses her mother, her father’s love, her privileges and her dignity.
Fairy tales are masters of transformation, telling of how nobody can direct change and of how the only chance to growth and reach a happy ending is travelling down our own path as best as we can, following our ownn story.

In the  Disney films, both the first (1950) and the last (2015), there is only one ball instead of Perrault's two. The French author tells of how Cinderella forgets her fairy Godmother's advice, risking to turn, in front of the prince, into a poor ragged girl with an escort of mice and green lizards. Her flight is so hasty that she loses one of her slippers, and the prince who is following her picks it up. In Basile’s tale, Cinderella goes to the promenade three times, and twice she escapes from the king’s servant who is following her. The third time, when the king's servant is about to reach her, her coach, following her order, runs so fast that it nearly flies. At that moment she loses the chianiello that we already saw in the hands of the enamoured king. Her lightness, her grace in dancing, and the rapid flight of her coach structurally belong to Cinderella. Also Aschenputtel, the Grimm Brothers’s Cinderella (1812), is as light an acrobat. Ashenputtel is free from all ties about coming home at midnight, and she goes to the gala ball for three times, like in Basile’s tale. When she goes home, the prince follows her to find out whom she is, but she escapes him. The first time she jumps into her house through the dovecote, the second she nimbly climbs a pear-tree to hide. The third night the prince, devising a plan to catch her, sprinkles the palace staircase with tar, so that a little golden shoe of Ashenputtel attaches itself to the tar.

The great illustrator Arthur Rackham drew a picture that we would call The Fugitive, where a ragged Cinderella flees from the ball to her house. She is about to put a bare foot on the ground while the other is lifted up, still wearing a heeled shoe (see the cover picture of Cat Cinderella - e-kamishibai). We already know that the other shoe is in the hands of the enamoured prince. How could Cinderella run so fast and lightly, with just one heeled shoe? Moreover, why did the elegant shoes, which appeared by magic, together with the gown, not disappear at midnight?
Rackham illustrated Perrault’s Cendrillon; nonetheless, being an artist, he retold his own version through his pictures. Rackham drew the Fairy Godmother like a witch or a Befana, giving the tale an unheimliche, odd feature which is missing in Perrault and Disney (1950) (see Cat Cinderella – e-book).
Branagh recovered this feature, introducing the Fairy Godmother as an old ugly ragamuffin, who puts to the test Cinderella’s kindness before turning herself into a wonderful golden young fairy (see also Cat Cinderella – by the Authors of Fabulando).

Let us now come back to the double paradox of la pantoufle de verre, the glass slipper.
The nine Cinderella shoes created by the world's best stylists have very high heels. They are not slippers at all, but their heels are nearly as high as the overshoe of Basile’s La Gatta Cennerentola. Both in Disney’s cartoon and in Branagh’s live-action, Cinderella twirls with her prince into the ball hall, which Walt Disney first devised for them, poetically making room for them stopping all the others guests around the hall. In Branagh’s film, the wonderful blue gown gives us the feeling of a magic lightness. It was made with 240 metres of fabric and 10.000 Swarovski crystals. The lightness of this real gown is as paradoxical as the glass slippers.
The main feature of Cinderella might just be this composition of possible and impossible. Cinderella's story runs from the fault – taking her mother’s place, leading her father’s life, killing the maternal actant who does not please her – to the mourning – the ash, the segregation, the invisibility. Then, in a twinkling of eyes, the tale passes from the sooty darkness to a full brightness, with Cinderella shining by her own light. From her pretension to get an absolute centrality, she moves to disillusion, when any chance to get what she wanted leaves room to its opposite, a total loss, even of her own name.
In 1950 Walt Disney built a bridge between fairy tale and reality, because a film gives shape and movement to the things that words evoke, a shape that is nearer to our everyday reality. On this bridge, lo chianiello, which had become la petit pantoufle de verre, the little slipper made of glass – then crystal -, came out from the fairy-tale world to go into shops, high-fashion ateliers and websites.
Be it by mistake or by choice, the glass introduced by Perrault becomes an essential element in the fairy tale of Cinderella, because it lets us see the bare feet, wrap them with a solid material, which does not disappear, together with the astonishing gown, jewels, lackeys, and horses. Cinderella’s shoe, with nearly 13.000.000 results on the Google search engine, beat any other kind of shoe and any other fairy-tale object. The charm of the paradoxical shoes, that she wears and loses, well represent Cinderella, whose foot is both bare and covered, who is both dressed up like a queen and ragged, who both shines like a small ittle sun and is dark like the black soot of the fireplace. She gracefully twirls wearing a gown which looks like it is made of cloud and sky, and has required hundreds of meters of fabric. She confidently moves her feet dressed in a material - glass or crystal - which should break at the first step. She goes to the gala ball and then runs away, she makes the prince fall in love with her and then escapes him, she is both present and absent.
What singles Cinderella out from other fairy-tale female actants, which may be equally charming and provided with symbolic values, is precisely this combination of possible and impossible.
We can see this combination par excellence in her shoes. With her flight, with or without the midnight limit, Cinderella displays her determination to escape male capture, her property to arouse the desire and leave it in suspense, playing a feminine game that no man can master. Her royal suitor is in love with Cinderella who plays this game, and he will only marry the woman who shows her desire to be loved, but not to be captured. All the other women try in vain to take her place, because the real magic slipper will fit only her foot: Therefore Cinderella realizes the desire to overcome all her rivals, her two or six stepsisters together with all the woman of the kingdom. Cinderella is the only woman deserving of love, and thus stages every woman's desire to be unique.
The love for Cinderella’s story, and the search for her shoes, which both dresses her foot and leaves it bare, from Perrault on, represents women's desire to live in harmony with their complexity, first of all to be both discovered and remain unknown, to veil and unveil themselves. Moreover, it represents the realization of the union with a noble lover, who chooses a woman because she does not give up her desire, while the still prevailing stereotype forces women to only desire the other’s desire, be it of her father, her husband, her son.
Staging this desire, every woman is unique, and if she drops a shoe, her suitor should know that he can find her through it, understanding her uniqueness.

The dancing lightness and the fragility of the glass, its transparency and its impossible possibility, give the chance to establish a space where, for the time of a fairy tale, of a film, of a dream, the female desire triumphs together with the male one. Only a prince can do this, being noble enough to understand that his own desire is not the only one in the world,  instead of ignoring, fearing, or claiming to master the female desire. (AG)

Italian languageParsley
Tower of Segregation
Southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

Parsley (whose name for Basile is Petrosinella, Rapunzel for the Grimm Brothers and for Walt Disney) has golden hair, so strong and long that an ogress can use them to ascend and descend through the only little window of her tower. This image could come out of its tale to live even by itself, probably because it recalls the eternal vain attempt of the old to possess the young. The golden long hair of Parsley might represent the strength of life that nobody can stop.
This story starts with a pregnant woman, who cannot resist her craving for parsley. The superstition concerning the cravings of a pregnant woman has an ancient origin, and the damage that it would do to the future child belongs to the old belief that the unbridled imagination and craving of the pregnant woman would damage her baby.
Since the parsley in this story belongs to an ogress, the future mother who secretly steals it, becomes indebted to this magical being. The injunction of the Tower of Segregation opens this tale with the pact between the woman and the ogress, who is a threatening maternal actant, who will kill the pregnant woman if she does not promise to give her her child. The ogress demands Parsley when the girl is seven years old, and she takes her away to imprison her in a tower without any door.

The ogress raises this high tower, a phallic symbol, built by her magic power. She can reach the top of her tower thanks to the young vigour of Parsley, represented by her amazing golden hair. The old mother ogress and the young daughter Parsley form a couple, separated from the rest of the world. Nevertheless, fairy tales do not permit anybody to stop the flow of life, and when Parsley grows up, a prince comes to the tower and stares at her beauty, enchanted by the longest golden hair. Before only the ogress used Parsley's hair, to join her old age to her youth. Now, the prince uses them to climb up the tower and enter through the little window, and the two young actants plan their flight. Parsley had discovered from the ogress where to find a drug to send her jailer to sleep. Once the ogress is asleep, she steals the three magic acorns that will help her escape.
The ogress chases her and the prince, but just as she is about to reach them, the young couple uses the magic acorns. Three huge animals appear one after the other; the first and the second one stop the ogress, the third magic animal devours her, and Parsley and the prince reache his kingdom, where they marry and live happily ever after. 

The motif of an ogress, or of another magic and threatening being who catches a girl, is not rare, and these fairy tales tell how the main female actant grows up beautiful and leaves her prison and her adoptive mother with a prince. Like the ogre in other tales  (The Tale of the Ogre), these underground beings may reveal themselves as amazing educationalists  (see also, by Giambattista Basile, the Eighth Tale of the First Day, La facce de crapa).

The first maternal actant in this tale is Parsley's pregnant mother, who cannot stand her craving and gives her daughter to the ogress. The ogress is the second maternal actant, who imprisoning Parsley possesses her youth. The beautiful main female actant is here endowed with hair so long that it makes accessible the top of the tower where she is growing up. The same ogress unwillingly gives Parsley the means to win; the three acorns are the magical inheritance for her adopted daughter. The ogress dies, and this simply means that she disappears. She had come on the scene before the child's birth and she disappears when Parsley can live happily ever after with her prince. (AG)

  Italian languageSleeping Beauty in the Wood
Sailing Ship of the Black Curse
Southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

Bruno Bettelheim wrote that Sleeping Beauty in the Wood may teach that a long period of dormancy, contemplation and introspection may deliver and often delivers the best results. This is his interpretation of that century-old sleep, and the psychoanalyst deduces that the boy and the girl listening to this tale may understand that if they wait for a long time before their first sexual encounter and before giving birth they will not suffer any damage. Following his interpretation, the trauma that put the main actant to sleep is the onset of menstruation that would correspond to the spell cast by the eigths fairy in Perrault’s version. Then Bettelheim looks at the sharp object that pricks the princess as a phallic symbol (a spindle for Perrault, a distaff for the Grimm Brothers, a fragment of flax for Basile's Sun, Moon and Talia. Then he gives a strict Freudian interpretation: the spiralling staircase that Beauty goes up represents a sexual intercourse, the door with a key in its keyhole through which Beauty enters the little room where the old woman is spinning represents the female genitals, and turning a key might symbolise a sexual intercourse.

Nevertheless, we should remember that the three spinners in Greek mythology were the three Moirai, Parcae or Fata for Latins, Norns in Norse mythology. Clotho spun the thread of life, Lachesis measured the thread and Atropos cut it; not even Zeus, King of Olympus, could change their decisions. We prefer to interpret this fatal encounter of the female main actant as her encounter with the mystery of birth and death that comes true for the girl when she becomes a young woman. The princess is now fifteen years old and she could give birth to a baby and thus risk her life. She was fated since her birth, and a female actant cursed her: this means that a bad tie between her and her maternal figure may make her growth fatal. In Basile’s version there is no bad fairy, but a bad destiny, and this does not make any difference, because the goddesses of destiny were the three Parcae or Fata. Fata comes from fatum, destiny, and gives origin to the Italian fata, to the old French fae, faerie, then to the English fairy. The curse of a female parental actant and the risk of dying for the female filial actant need a long time that suspends the growth of Beauty. The tale may tell of a century, which is a long defined time, or of an indefinite long time (in Basile’s version), and this is a time that life, or nature, or destiny, impose on mothers and daughters. The little girl is eager to grow up; she wants to take her mother’s throne, seize her treasures, her adult charm, her place near the girl’s father, and her power to give birth. When the princess is fifteen years old she would be ready to do this, she in fact is dying to do it. Her fatal sleep averts the dangerous conflict with the maternal actant, who would forever keep her power.

Both the version by Basile and by Charles Perrault, do not end with the awakening of the princess. A maternal actant tries to kill her children and her, burning her at the stake as was really the case with women convicted of witchcraft or heresy. The awakening and the union with the prince are not enough to resolve this conflict between the maternal and the filial actants. This tale tells of a hard conflict between parental and filial female actants, of the desire of the daughter to quickly get her mother’s place against the desire of the mother that is in Perrault’s version the queen mother of the prince. In Basile the persecutor of Sleeping Beauty, named Talia, is the queen herself, wife of the king who made Talia pregnant without awakening her. In the most famous version, an old irate fairy comes to Beauty’s baptism because the king forgot to invite her. The king father then forbids spinning in his realm, but a woman cannot avoid the encounter with the mystery of life and death that she can only know through her mother. Bettelheim interprets the spindle and the distaff as phallic symbols, but they belong to the feminine area. It would then be difficult to see a phallic symbol in the fragment of flax that causes the fatal sleep of Talia, the same object that causes the apparent death of Zellandine, in the more ancient Roman de Perceforest. These objects tell of a feminine power, and of a difficult succession.

The Grimm Brothers, followed by Walt Disney, conclude this tale with the chaste encounter of Beauty with the prince, losing the second part of the tale that proves that the area of the tale is maternal. Walt Disney inserted the kiss of the prince, while in the Grimm Brothers' version the arrival of the prince was enough to awake her. In the tale by Basile and in the ancient novel Perceforest a kiss was not enough for the female main actant, and neither were her consequent pregnancy and labour. In these tales the main sleeping actant gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl, and one of them sucks her finger instead of her nipple and removes the fragment of flax, so its mother awakens. If the prince or the king had not arrived, Beauty’s sleep would have lasted forever, and we can say that that encounter is a necessary but insufficient condition towards the happy ending.
A full erotic awakening might happen for a woman not with her first sexual intercourse or after many intercourses. Pregnancy and labour are fundamental experiences in a woman’s life, but they do not belong to the erotic area.

Her love for her baby, and her baby’s love for her, may fully awake her passion for life and her bodily pleasure, just as well as a passionate erotic encounter. The woman opens herself to the other losing the virginity of her soul, even many years after having lost her physical virginity, and her feminine desire awakes in her body and in her mind.

Then her prince must fight against his own mother to overcome his wife’s persecutor and save their children. In real life, these conflicts are as frequent as they are in fairy tales, even though they are usually softened by love and feelings of gratitude. (AG)

Beauty, the actant of this fairy tale, awakes after hundred years with the same enchantig charm of her fifteenth or sixteenth birthday. It may happen when her coffin is shaked by the prince who is bringing her into his castle (Rosaspina, Fratelli Grimm, 1812); it may happen for the kiss of the prince in love  (Sleeping Beauty, Disney, 1959); it happened in the ancient version when one of her two babies, looking for her nipple, suckes away from her finger the fragment of linen which causing her sleep (Sun, Moon and Talia, Basile 1634); let's remember that she went on sleeping during the love visit of the king and during her labour. In her age-old body there is something of the miracle of the centuries-old bodies of the Christian bodies of the saints. Bodies and parts of saints are venerated in the churches all over the world. Let's remember the body of pope Giovanni 23th, which was found intact forty years after his death.
The religious miracle of the intact bodies of the saints migrates to the little fairy tales?
If we read Perrault, the response might be quite positive.

Il entre dans une chambre toute dorée, et il voit sur un lit, dont les rideaux estoient ouverts de tous costez, le plus beau spectacle qu’il eut jamais veu: une princesse qui paroissoit avoir quinze ou seize ans, et dont l’éclat resplendissant avoit quelque chose de lumineux et de divin.
At last he came into a chamber all gilded with gold, where he saw upon a bed, the curtains of which were all open, the finest sight was ever beheld - a princess, who appeared to be about fifteen or sixteen years of age, and whose bright and, in a manner, resplendent beauty, had somewhat in it divine.
(Charles Perrault) (Andrew Lang)
(AG, 02/04/2023)
See also, the e-kamishibai of this fairy tale, which is available via its fairy tale map.

Sailing Ship of the Black Curse
southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

(Misfortune) is a fairy tale that catches the listener’s attention and feelings for its heart breaking story, for the characters’ vivid colours and the linguistic vigour of the Sicilian version collected by Giuseppe Pitré. In the Fairy Map of Succession, Sfurtuna is in the southeast quadrant, because of the injunction that the female main actant has to face with, coming from the maternal figure. A beggar says that the young girl called Sfurtuna is the only cause of the bad fate of her family. So, her mother unwilingly throws her out of the house. The maiden really has a bad Fate, who follows her everywhere she goes, like a curse that ruins anything she does. In this sense, this tale’s injunction is The Sailing Ship of the Black Curse.

But then, just when Sfurtuna is feeling the most dejected, she meets Gnà Francisca (Lady Francesca), who  treats her not as a stranger, but as a guest, gives her a plate of food. She then offers her a job, washing, ironing and starching the garments of the king (Riuzzu) together with her. Then they work together, and Gnà Francisca brings the King his clothes each week, and the King gives her money in return, with which the woman buys ingredients to cook some cakes, as well as typical feminine objects, like clothes, combs and beauty creams to give to Sfurtuna's bad Fate. The story tells how the maiden can take care of the male actant, thanks to this maternal donor, and how this care provides her with a wealth; this wealth, thanks to the action of the same maternal figure, converts into a means that allows Sfurtuna to get in touch with her harmful Fate and change her into an ally. Only her Fate can give Sfurtuna that which allows her to meet and finally marry the king.

Let us now dwell on her Fate’s gift, which is a palm of ribbon (un palmo di gallone), a little piece of fabric that however weighs more than gold.
"This is magic", we think enjoying the tale. Then we forget about it, following Sfurtuna who is now beautiful and enters the throne room, bows to the king and tells him her story. Then the king pays the damages made by the maiden's bad Fate and marries Sfurtuna. By now we have probably forgotten that palm of ribbon, as had Sfurtuna, unaware of its value, when she threw it into a chest. Nevertheless, the magic of that little thing is meaningful. Let us think of the king, who could measure everything, the value of the work that somebody made for him and the value of something that now is ruined, but he cannot measure the value of one palm of ribbon. We should know that it is not a simple matter. We know that Sfurtuna received this gift from her Fate and its deep meaning comes from the deep relation between her and her Fate. The relation between Sfurtuna and that side of herself that could direct her own life, is connected to her female identity; her Fate is a female actant. Furthermore, the objects that Sfurtuna gives her are clothes and rouges. That palm of ribbon is an object closely connected to the maiden’s female identity. The fairy tale seems to say that it is impossible to quantify or measure such an object, since its value comes from something else, which is impalpable as a light fabric and precious as the missing ornament in a bride's gown. (CC)

Italian languageBrier Rose
Sailing Ship of the Black Curse
Southeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

Brier Rose, told by the Grimm Brothers in the first edition of the Household Tales (1812), is today the best known version of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. The story has the injunction Sailing Ship of the Black Curse, and it is located in the South-West Quadrant, because it begins with the curse cast by the old fairy, who is a maternal actant.

Before the Grimm Brothers wrote their Brier Rose, the fairy tale of the Sleeping Beauty had been already told by two great storytellers: Giambattista Basile, who in the 17th century established the fairy tales as a narrative genre, and Charles Perrault, who sixty years later made fairy tales the most popular narrative genre at the time of the Sun King.
The story of Brier Rose is similar to that of Basile's Sun, Moon and Talia and Perrault's La belle au bois dormant: there is an opening curse, a sharp object (connected with the female art of spinning), which causes the maiden's fatal sleep, and a prince - or a king - who penetrates the protective vegetation surrounding the castle and reaches the sleeping beauty.
The German story henceforth differs from the two previous fairy tales. 
Basile's Talia awakes more than nine months after the encounter with her lover. It is one of her two newborn twins who, looking for her nipple, finds her finger, and sucking it pulls out the splinter of flax which caused her fatal sleep. Perrault's Sleeping Beauty awakes because one hundred years are passed, and when she opens her eyes she sees the prince gazing at her. In both these ancient versions, the encounter with the male main actant does not put an end to the fairy tale. The threat of death coming from the opening curse returns in another shape which is even more dangerous. Therefore, we cannot yet be sure that the story will have a happy ending. 
Brier Rose is instead awakened by the male main actant:

The prince was so amazed at her beauty that he bent over and kissed her. At that moment she awoke, and with her the king and the queen, and all the attendants, and the horses and the dogs, and the pigeons on the roof, and the flies on the walls. The fire stood up and flickered, and then finished cooking the food. The roast sizzled away. The cook boxed the kitchen boy's ears. And the maid finished plucking the chicken. Then the prince and Brier-Rose got married, and they lived long and happily until they died. (e-book, p. 41-45)

Comparing Brier Rose with La belle au bois dormant we realize that the Grimm Brothers' Brier Rose comes from Perrault, as Calvino wrote in one of the rich notes in his Italian Folktales (Calvino, p. 1146; English translation ours). But it is moreover evident that the Grimm Brothers cut the second part of the fairy tale. The Grimm Brothers' Sleeping Beauty indeed interweaves with the story of a character which we find  throughout Norse mythology: one of  the warrior maiden or Valkyrie, whose name is Sigrdrífa - the German name is Brunhilde.
In the Poetic Edda - a Norse collection of poems from the medieval Icelandic manuscript Codex Regius (13th century), it is told that Sigrdrífa/Brunhilde was severely punished by the god Óðinn (Odin, Wotan in German) because she had defended a warrior whom Odin disliked. 

...[i]n revenge for which Odin pricked her with a sleepthorn, and declared that henceforth she should never have victory in battle, and should be given in marriage. «But I said to him, that I had bound myself by a vow not to espouse any man who could be made to fear.» (Sigrdrífumál - Poetic Edda, in Wikisource)

So, Brunhilde here is not cursed by a mother figure (like the forgotten old fairy in Sleeping Beauty), but is punished by a father figure (Odin, powerful god who is also called Father of the Gods) who punishes a behavior breaking rules that he had imposed. The narrative of the myth procedes consistently from this beginning. Odin's punishment does not end with the fatal sleep: the Father of the Gods imposes marriage upon the virgin warriory, namely to give up her own freedom and submit to the patriarchal order. Her sleep in an inaccessible castle is like the task that the hero has to face to get her. .
This is not at all a story like Brier Rose, in which, as we already said, the fatal sleep comes from a mother figure, and the only action of the father is to burn all the spinning wheels, uselessly trying to prevent the fulfillment of the curse.
Brier Rose's fairy tale tells of a female question, the Norse myth tells something about an action violating the patriarchal order. The fairy tale starts with a maternal injunction, the myth from a paternal injunction. Going to Fabulando's Fairy Map of the Succession, we could say that the fairy tale is in the southwestern quadrant, while the myth would be in the northeastern quadrant.
We know that myths and fairy tales are different genres, told in different historic moments meaning different questions. Nevertheless, we see fairytale motifs in some myths - namely the fatal sleep. As we noticed comparing Sweet Diamond Pie with the Florentine Re Porco, the motifs are polysemous, and their meaning emerges depending on the story that encloses them.
The story of Brunhilde, virgin warrior punished by her father because she violated one of his orders, has a different progress from the one of Brier Rose. The fairy tale's main actant has to face the interweaving of life and death. This interweaving concerns the female mystery and the fairy tale represents it through the fairy's curse  (to read more about the curse, see Sleeping Beauty in the Wood).

We know that Grimm's Fairy Tales had many editions, the first in 1812 and the last in 1857. We know that one of the Grimm Brothers' writing their collection was rouse the patriotic German spirit. Germany had not yet been unified, and they wanted to give shape to the German Nation. But we know also that the two German scholars knew Straparola, Basile, and Perrault, and these three writers were for them important sources. What we do not know is how they found a similarity between Brunhilde and Brier Rose. From their notes we can see that they associated these two characters.
Their Brier Rose comes from this association of theirs, and we think that the resulting version is poorer than Basile's and Perrault's. The Grimm Brothers cut the second part of the story, and the prince's figure coincides with the mythical hero (Sigurðr in the Norse version. Sigfried in the German version).
In the myth we see a paternal injunction, and the fatal sleep is a feat that the male hero has to overcome. 
In the versions of Sleeping Beauty published before the Grimm Brothers' the curse comes to an end following motifs linked to motherhood. The main actant gives birth to a baby; in one case (Basile) the baby itself frees its mother, while the main male actant has the decisive role of helper and mediator, but he is not the liberator. At least in the first part of the story.
Combining the two stories as if they were the same story, the Grimm Brothers radically change the role of the main male actant, giving him the power to untie a knot that belongs to the female sphere. The deep meaning of the encounter of the girl with fate, with the Norns or Parcae, is repressed by the Grimm Brothers, as well as the old fairy who was forgotten by the queen and the king when Brier Rose was born. 
What is repressed comes back: the old forgotten fairy, not invited, comes and curses the newborn princess. After the Grimms' version the power of the evil fairy grows more and more. In some contemporary tales she becomes even the main character of the story. 
The Disney remake of the animated film Sleeping Beauty (Geronimi-Larson-Reitherman-Clark, US, 1959) is a paradigmatic example of this trend: the title of the film is Maleficent (Stromberg, US, 2014); Maleficent is the name given by Disney to his forgotten fairy in 1959. Maleficent tells of the «most powerful fairy», the generous protector of the world of the magical creatures, who becomes deadly and destructive when she is betrayed. Her character dominates the whole story, because she is the main character and because of her total power.
Nobody can defeat her: not Sleeping Beauty's father, Stefano, who uselessly tries twice to kill her, while the young prince kisses Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty, but she goes on sleeping. Only Maleficent can break the curse cast by herself, with a tender maternal kiss on Aurora's forehead.
The film tells the metamorphosis of Maleficent from young good fairy to evil persecutor, alter the betrayal of Stefano, the man she loves. It tells also how Maleficent closely follows the growth of the princess whom she had cursed. The little girl rekindles Maleficent's love, and this makes the happy ending possible. This contemporary version belongs to the female sphere, like the versions told by Basile and Perrault. But there is an important difference: here the mother figure is omnipotent, much more than in the ancient fairy tales, and the male characters are quite powerless.

In Brier Rose we can see how the Grimm Brothers repressed the mysterious female power which curses and frees the main female actant - Sun, Moon, and Talia, and Sleeping Beauty in the Wood - when she becomes a woman. In Maleficent this power comes back fearsome and destructive. The happy ending is possible thanks to a renewed female alliance between Maleficent - now good - and Aurora. The princess is crowned in Maleficent's magic world. It is an idyllic scene, with women, animals, magic creatures, and only one male character: the young prince whose kiss could not awake the Sleeping Beauty. (CC)

See also the e-kamishibai of this fairy tale, which is available via its fairy tale map.

Italian languageSun, Moon and Talia
Sailing Ship of the Black Curse
Southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

Sun, Moon,and Talia is the first version ever published of the famous fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. Giambattista Basile wrote it in the Seventeenth century, among the stories of his collection The Tale of Tales. When the little Talia was born, her father summoned sages and astrologers to predict her future. They said that the girl would incur a great danger from a splinter of flax. The father tried to counter this bad fate by forbidding any flax, hemp, or any other material of that sort from his palace.
But when she grew up, Talia saw an old woman spinning, and wishing to try the spindle, she called her up into the palace.

Taking the distaff from her hand, she began to stretch the flax. Unfortunately, Talia ran a splinter of flax under her nail, and she fell dead upon the ground. (e-book, p. 11)

Like all the fathers of the future Sleeping Beauties, Talia's father tries to fight against fate, and he fails like them all. In fairy tales, to escape fate means meeting it.
We can read a fatal sleep very similar to Talia's one in the Roman de Perceforest (14th-15th century), a very long prose work which tells the history of England starting from a mythic landing of Alexander the Great on the island. Among the many stories told in this book, we find the story of Zellandine, who, one day, spinning together with her damsels, falls suddenly asleep, seemingly without any reason. An aunt of hers, after she wakes up, reveals to Zellandine that three goddesses attended her birth: Lucina, Venus, and Themis. The first is the protector of pregnant women, the second is the goddess of love and fertility, the third is the goddess of fate. After Zellandine's birth, the three goddesses were sitting at a table sumptuously decked for them, but Themis could not find her knife, which had simply fallen to the ground. Offended by this absence, the goddess of fate cursed the baby, instead of giving her a present:

... dato che io sono quella che non ha avuto il coltello, le dò questo destino, che dal primo filo che tirerà dalla sua conocchia le entrerà nel dito una scheggia in modo tale che si addormenterà di colpo e non si sveglierà fino a quando non le sarà succhiata fuori.
...[S]ince I am the only one who has been left without a knife, I shall give her this fate: the first time she will weave a thread through her distaff, a splinter will penetrate her finger and so she will fall asleep and not wake up until the splinter is sucked out.
(Franci-Zago, p. 52) (Tr. ours)

Zellandine's aunt says also that Venus promised to use her power to make possible the awakening of Zellandine, thus lessening the terrible fate cast by Themis.
The curse of the fate goddess is due to chance in the French novel. In Basile's version it becomes written in the stars. After Basile, Charles Perrault retells the story of the offended goddess: La Belle au bois dormant tells of a forgotten fairy who comes unbidden to the newborn princess' baptism, and sees that she does not have what the other fairies have:

a magnificent cover with a case of massive gold, wherein were a spoon, knife, and fork, all of pure gold set with diamonds and rubies. (e-book, pp. 9-11)

With regard to the meaning of the fairy in Perrault or of the fate written in the stars in Basile, see the note concerning the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty in the Woods. Let us here remember that the fatal sleep of the main actant is caused by female work with sharp tools, which recall the Parcae or Norns, the goddesses who spun the thread of human life, deciding its beginning, its character, its end. The fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty in the Woods tells something about the encounter with the deep dimension of female power, where life and death intertwine.
Let us now resume the thread of Sun, Moon,and Italia.
A hunter king passes next to the palace were lies Talia, the sleeping beauty, all alone. His falcon enters the building, and the king enters to look for his bird. He goes through many empty rooms until he sees, in the last one, the beautiful Italia. First he tries to awake her, then, fired with passion, takes her. Nine months later, Talia, always asleep, gives birth to two beautiful twins, Sun and Moon, attended by invisible fairies. One day one of the babies sucks Italia's finger instead of her nipple, and thus sucks away the splinter of flax and Talia opens her eyes. The first Sleeping Beauty published in the world awakes thanks to her experience of motherhood, which was possible thanks to the erotic encounter with the male character.
But this is not enough to get a happy ending. The bad fate is still there, and Talia now risks to die.
Like the Rajah who awakes Surya Bai, the king of Talia already has a wife. She discovers the betrayal of her husband.
The main female character of the Indian fairy tale has no perception of danger, and Talia is equally naive.
After the birth of Sun and Moon the king remembers the sleeping beauty and goes to see her.
Finding her awake,

He was overjoyed, and he told Talia who he was, and how he had seen her, and what had taken place. When she heard this, their friendship was knitted with tighter bonds, and he remained with her for a few days. (e-book, p. 19-21)

Some days after the king leaves her and Talia does not blink. The story tells us that for Talia it is not strange that the king leaves her at will. Then, when a servant comes to her to take her children, saying that the king wants to have them in his palace, Talia gives him Sun and Moon without asking anything. But the servant was ordered by the queen, the first wife of the king, to go and take the children to kill and cook them. The cook saves them and replaces them with two lambs. Thinking to have given her husband his two cooked children, the queen sends her servant to drive Talia to the castle, saying that the King wishes to have her too in the palace together with their children. So the naive Talia falls into the clutches of the queen, who is going to cast her into a large fire lit in the courtyard of the palace.
For the second time Talia faces a deadly female power: the splinter of flax had caused her a death-like sleep, and now the queen intends to burn her. In this female conflict, the male actants ensure that the happy ending is still possibile: first the king, who by getting Talia pregnant creates the chance for the baby to suck out the flax's splinter, and then the cook, who saves the children's life. At the end, Talia finally does something: she gains some time, giving the king the chance to arrive in time, just when the bad queen is about to throw Talia into the fire. (CC)

Italian languageSurya Bai
Tower of the Segregation
Southwest quadrant
Map of the Tale

A mother, a poor milkwoman, is coming home from the market with her milk cans. She is carrying her
only one year old baby-girl. She is so tired that she falls asleep on the roadside. A pair of eagles kidnap the baby and bring her to their nest built on a very high tree, which has seven iron gates. The eagles call the baby Surya Bai (her name means Lady Sun), and nurture her lovingly giving her princely clothes and jewels. She never comes down from the tree, and does not know anything of the world outside of her nest.
At the beginning, this Indian fairy tale is similar to Parsley, the story of a pregnant woman who craves for some of the ogress’ parsley and steals it. The ogress spares her life in exchange for the as of yet unborn child, who is the brought to a very high tower which has only a small window. Like Parsley, female main actant of a fairy tale written by Giambattista Basile, Surya Bai grows up segregated because of her mother's
breakdown, and her fairy tale, like the one of Parsley, belongs to the injunction Tower of Segregation. This is the only injunction of Fabulando that is only in the Southwest Quadrant, where the fairy tales have female actants and maternal injunctions.
Nonetheless, the Indian fairy tale’s narrative introduces elements different from those told by Basile, which are the same that we find in many other versions collected in the following centuries. Let’s remember just one of them, Rapunzel by the Grimm Brothers, well-known today thanks to the Disney film Tangled (Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, US 2010).
Surya Bai comes out of the eagle’s nest by herself, because she needs food. The eagles are off 
to find a princely ring for her pinkie, leaving Surya Bai alone with two pets, a she-dog and a she-cat. The cat after some days steals food from the pantry. Surya Bai then punishes the cat, who, in revenge,runs to the hearth and extinguishes the fire. Having no more dishes or fire to prepare them with, Surya Bai cannot eat and decides to go and look for some fire. So the girl comes out from her prison-nest without any help, having known nobody but parental characters. Down the tree she bumps into another parental actant. In an ascendant progression, after a mother who had been unable to protect her, after the eagles, who kidnapped and adopted her, the girl meets an old Rakshas, a terrible demon who wants to eat her. As soon as she sees Surya Bai, the old Rakshas asks her, in exchange for the fire, to do some house works for her, because she is waiting for her son. This is also a Rakshas, who can kill Surya Bai, so his mother keeps her from going. The girl does not realize where she ended up, and she performs all those tasks, but eventually she requires the firebrand that the old woman promised her. By this time the Rakshas cannot deny it to the girl, even if her son has not yet come home. But she gives Surya Bai some grains of wheat suggesting her to drop the grains along the way back, to form a path between their houses.
Without fearing anything, the girl does what the old Rakshas asked her, and goes back to close herself in her nest on the tree. Since she knows nothing but her segregation, Surya Bai can only come back to the very high tree, without even thinking of escaping. She is then quite different from Parsley, who, meeting and falling in love with a prince, desires to escape from the tower.
In the meantime the son of the old Rakshas comes home, learns what has happened and runs the down marked by the wheat grains to go and kill Surya Bai. He arrives to the eagle’s nest, but he cannot open the iron gates. He smites the outside gate so hard that he breaks one of his poisonous nails. But Surya Bai does not hear him, because she is sleeping beyond the seven gates. Listening to this fairy tale, you heave now a sigh of relief. The girl is safe and the demon cannot reach her, so that in the end he gives up and goes home. But, as we said, Surya Bai is unaware of the dangers she is running, and in the morning she goes to open the nest’s seven doors without a worry. The fragment of the Rakshas’ poisonous nail $which had got stuck to the gate pierces her hand, and immediately Surya Bai falls down dead.

Her eagle parents could not keep her safe, and neither could the seven iron gates surrounding their nest.
Nonetheless, this is not the ending of our tale, or of Surya Bai’s journey. A short time later, in fact, a Rajah who is going on a hunt makes a stop under the highest tree. Being intrigued by the eagle’s nest, he sends his attendants to see what it is. Learning that there is a beautiful girl inside, he orders that they bring her down. He is captivated by the beauty of the girl and touches her hand, and feels something stuck in her palm. He extracts the demon’s nail fragment and awakes Surya Bai. This awakening is similar to the one of Snow White, of The Chrystal Casket and of the many other versions spread around the world (as for Italian fairy tales, see Nel bosco con Biancaneve, in Percorsi di pensiero, website of Claudia Chellini. For other versions, see the website SurLaLune). In all these stories the girl awakes from the fatal sleep thanks to her prince’s mother. The mother queen undoes the spell depending on the magic object that made the female main actant fall down dead when she touched it. In this Indian fairy tale, nonetheless, it is not a maternal actant who brings her back to life, but the Rajah. This kind of awakening is the same as in the Grimm Brothers’ Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, where one of the prince’s servants is tired of carrying the crystal casket with the sleeping beauty whenever the prince leaves his palace. One time, the servant pulls up Snow White and hits her in the back, so that the poisoning piece of apple comes out of her throat and Snow White awakes. Let’s say that the gesture told by the Grimm brothers has nothing to do with the gentleness of the Rajah’s one, but in both these stories, a main actant is able to bring back to life a girl who died because of a persecutory maternal actant. The Indian fairy tale, however, tells us that the Rajah’s gesture is not enough to resolve the matter. We see that Surya Bai agrees to marry the Rajah, but he has a first wife – the first Ranee - who is fiercely jealous of her. Surya Bai, despite what already happened to her, has not learned to recognize danger. She does not listen to the old housekeeper who warns her.

[S]he used to say to her – “Don’t be too intimate with the first Ranee, dear lady, for she wishes you no good, and she has power to do you harm. Some day she may poison or otherwise injure you.” But Surya Bai would answer her, “Nonsense! What is there to be alarmed about? Why cannot we both live happily together like two sisters?” (e-book, p. 43)
She then falls prey to the first Ranee, who one day pushes her into the fountain of the palace courtyard, and drowns her. The Rajah does not know anything of this, because this close combat is quite a female one, representing a mother/daughter conflict. The first Ranee is a maternal actant because she is the woman present in the Rajah’s life and house before Surya’s arrival. Let’s remember that this story is entitled The Little Surya Bai. She is the little girl in the family, so to speak.
Let’s now suspend the narrative, to pick up again the thread of
our reflection. We have said that the first part of the Indian story goes on like Parsley’s one, taking a different direction until Surya Bai does not meet any male actants, namely a prince, who is instead decisive for Parsley. What does it mean? Is it a mere matter of luck? Let us think of the Indian fairy tale. The girl can go out of her prison, but what she sees outside is not interesting for her, and it is dangerous. Surya Bai is contained within a childlike condition, where the only love and good comes from the parental relationship, represented by the nest to which she returns. On the contrary, when Parsley meets the prince, the time of that guarded relationship is over, and her falling in love stages something quite different from the previous time. What is out of the tower looks so desirable to Parsley that she is now able to steal the ogress’ magic objects and flee. We see that the ogress retaliates by chasing Parsley and the prince, but we now also know that Parsley's tale is going to reach a happy ending. This childlike time is not over for Surya Bai. This explains why the girl at first goes back to her protecting nest. Nevertheless, this protection is ending, and Surya Bai succumbs to the son of the old Rakshas. Consequently, we can understand why her awakening worked by the Rajah is not yet the solution for her. Surya Bai is not ready for the outside world, and she finds only another fatal place, not less dangerous than the house of the cannibalistic Rakshas. So, she dies after drowning.
Then, like the beautiful bride in The Three Citrons, Surya Bai comes back to life several times. A sunflower springs exactly where she drowned. The Rajah, desperate for the loss of his beloved, sees the sunflower and is captivated by it, because it reminds him of Surya Bai. As soon as the first Ranee learns this, she cuts down the sunflower, burns it, and has its ashes thrown out in the jungle. But from the sunflower’s ashes,

[T]here sprang up a young mango tree, tall and straight, that grew so quickly, and became such a beautiful tree, that it was the wonder of all the country round. At last, on its topmost bough, came one fair blossom; and the blossom fell, and the little mango grew rosier and rosier, and larger and larger, till so wonderful was it, both for size and shape, that people flocked from far and near only to look at it.
But none ventured to gather it, for it was to be kept for the Rajah himself. (e-book, pp. 54-56)

One day the poor milkwoman, Surya Bai’s mother, is coming back from the market, and being very tired she stops under the mango-tree and falls asleep. A beautiful mango fruit falls into one of her milk-cans. When the milkwoman sees it, she thinks of bringing it home in secret, not to be accused to have stolen it. Once at home, she hides it behind the other cans, then tells what happened to her husband and her seven sons, asking them to go and take it, so they can eat the wonderful mango
all together. But they cannot find the mango. Instead of it, in the can they find:

[A] little tiny wee lady, richly dressed in red and gold, and no bigger than a mango! On her head shone a bright jewel like a little sun. (e-book, p. 62)

The milkwoman decides to keep her like a daughter, and the tiny woman grows up quickly, soon becoming adult-seized. She is always lovely and kind, but silent and sad. The milkwoman does not ask anything to Surya Bai, and she does not tell her story to anybody. After her rebirth from her mother’s milk-can, she finds a donor mother, who is the mother she had lost. Now Surya Bai perceives danger and learns to protect herself.
One day the Rajah comes riding by the milkwoman's house, and sees Surya Bai who is drawing water from the well. The girl gets scared and runs away to shut herself at home. The Rajah chases her, but when he arrives at the door there is the milkwoman who tells him that she will not give Surya Bai to the Rajah who is demanding her as his wife

[A]nd I won’t give up my little daughter for any bidding of yours. Be off with you, or I’ll pull out your beard.” And so saying she seized a long stick and attacked the Rajah, calling out loudly for assistance to her husband and sons, who came running to her aid. (e-book, p. 68)

The Rajah returns to his palace and goes to see the housekeeper of Surya Bai to learn something more. She is in prison, because the first Ranee had accused her of the loss of Surya Bai. After the housekeeper tells him the whole story word by word, the Rajah asks her to become a friend of the milkwoman, to understand how the matter stands. We now see the housekeeper, who is a maternal donor, able to act freely. She forms an alliance with Surya Bai’s mother, who is the other maternal donor in this fairy tale. Now we know that Surya Bai is going to find her love again and eventually live happily ever after with the Rajah. (CC)

Italian languagePig King
Sailing Ship of the Black Curse
Southeast quadrant
Map of the Tale

Beauty and the Beast belongs to the same type of story as Pig King, which tells how Beauty can become generative only when it joins with its opposite, which in this type of fairy tale is represented by a hideous or animal actant. The ancient Greeks teach us the importance of this union, since they tell that the husband of the beautiful goddess of love, Aphrodite, was Hephaistos, the crippled smith God.
The story of Pig King tells of a sterile queen, whom is made more beautiful than ever by three fairies, who also make her inviolable and pregnant. But they eventually say that she would give birth to a baby pig. The pig prince is the opposite of his mother’s perfection, being an animal fond of mud and dirth. His curse comes through his mother, and he will have to marry three girls, until he will find a wife able to accept his pig nature and turn him into a handsome prince.

Some teachers of primary schools told this tale to their pupils during a workshop that I planned and lead (see Adalinda Gasparini, Re porco e i bambini narratori, 1997, and L’orologio e la gemma, ovvero la cotica clamorosa 1999). Let's understand the meaning of Pig King through some words and pictures of those pupils, who heard this fairy tale from their teachers (the teachers chose to read it in my Italian translation from the 16th century version given in Fabulando. See Gasparini, Le prime fiabe del mondo, 1996) Then the pupils retold it freely by themselves through their writings or drawings. Those children were nine-ten years old, and nobody corrected their mistakes. The Italian text reproduces them, but those mistakes are impossible to transIate in English. I hope that the English reader can however enjoy these naive and yet piercing children's words.

A girl draws the beginning of the tale, with the queen and only one fairy. The two figures are very thin, but the queen’s gown is full of flowers and the fairy has big wings. There is this caption:

E' il momento che mi è piaciuto di più perché mi sembra impossibile che la fata possa leggere nel futuro.

This is the moment I liked the most because it seems impossible to me that the fairy would be able to know the future.

Children know the difference between wonderland and the real world, and this girl expresses her pleasure for magic together with her awareness of its impossibility.
The motif of the animal’s acceptance begins with parents: when the queen gives birth to her baby pig, the father king would at first throw him into the sea, fearing that he could damage the queen’s reputation. Nevertheless, he thinks that, even though ugly, he is nonetheless his son, and decides to let him grow up in the best way. This is really the primary sense of love, the only thing that can soothe children, since they want their parents to love them purely because they are their children, not because they correspond to the expectations of their parents, be these expectations more or less sensible. If the royal parents can love even a son with tusks and rind , all children can be lovely in the eyes of their parents. Let's quote a Neapolitan saying: Ogni scarrafone è bello a mamma sua (every cockroach is beautiful in the eyes of his mother).

La principessa fa i complimenti a suo figlio anche se non è poi così perfetto:
- Sei carino! lo sai?
- Grazie!

The princess compliments her son even though he is not so perfect,
- You are nice! Do you know it?
- Thank you!

Another boy draws the king caressing his pig child, behind them there is written "PIG". Let us read the king’s bubble:

- Ciao ciao bello amore del papà

- Hallo, hallo dad's beautiful love!

A girl draws the little pig returning to the palace very dirty, and going towards his smiling elegant mother queen, who sits on her throne. There is this caption:

[...] Il porco saltava in braccio alla sua mamma e con il suo grugnetto la baciava

[...] The pig jumped into his mother’s arms and kissed her with his little snout

A boy represents the pig asking his mother to get a wife for him, and properly understanding the prince’s unsuitability he writes that the prince:

[...] perse tutto il letame dietro di sé

[…he] spread all the manure behind him

With that disgusting incontinence the animal prince is unlikely to get a wife, and the queen discourages him. This is what is imagined by a boy whose mother might be less encouraging than this fairy tale’s mother,

[...] la regina rispose che il porco era stupido e che nessuno volesse sposarlo perché era sudicio sporco e puzzolente.

[...] the queen answered that the pig was stupid and that nobody would marry him because he was dirty, filthy and stinking

Nevertheless, the Pig gets two wives that decide to stab him on the wedding night. To their violence the beast answers by stabbing them by his tusks. A majority of boys represents the scene of the first and second wedding nights, with the wife lying on the bed, before or after the act of violence. The unlucky bride lies on her back, with bleeding wounds, on her breast or pubis. Reminding us of a sexual violence, the boys often draw the bride with open arms and smiling. The pig, big and sneering, or tiny and frightened, looks at his stabbed bride brandishing a dagger or a sword.
In one of these drawings the pig, coloured in vivid pink, goes up to the wedding bed gloating:



This is then his bride's thought:


EH, EH!!!

In another drawing, the wife says to him,

[...] sei troppo pusolente

[...] you are too stinking

Only the acceptance of the animal male actant on the part of the beautiful female actant makes it possible to turn violence into a humanizing embrace. This is what these pupils tell, and this is what this kind of fairy tale has told ever since its ancient versions.
The third wife, who does not want to kill the royal Pig, might not be so confident, thinks a girl,

Alla prima notte lei aveva paura ma quando arrivò si scrollò di dosso la pelle e venne fuori un bellissimo fanciulo

On the wedding night, she was afraid but when he came, he shook his skin and a beautiful boy came out

Another boy writes,

[...] ma però quando il porco andava a letto Rosa bianca lo copriva

[...] but then when the pig went to bed Rosa Bianca enveloped him

Another boy describes the pig’s first encounter with his third wife

Quando vide una fanciulla così ma così bella sporco e puzzolente prese la rincorsa e le girò intorno lei la fanciulla si chinò e lo grattava e la regina li disse con la fanciulla ma non lo metti da parte e le rispose di no, lo baciò e lo accarezzò. La notte la fanciulla lo tenne forte, la notte precedente si tolse la pelle da porco e vienì fuori un giovane bellissimo e vissero insieme felici e contenti.

When he saw that the beautiful maiden was so beautiful, he, all dirty and stinking, ran up to her and around her and the maiden bent over him and scraped him and the queen said to the maiden why don’t you put him aside and she said no and she kissed him and caressed him. By night the maiden held him strongly, the night before he took off his pigskin and there came out a beautiful youth and they lived happily and glad together
This boy writes precedente (previous) meaning seguente (following). Perhaps he thinks to use a more refined word.

Another boy draws the wedding room, with bedside tables and wardrobes; the bride is already in the wedding bed, and welcomes him:

Amore mio sdraiati vicino a me

My love lie down by me

In the same drawing the groom, being just a pig, even though crowned, stands up on his hind legs and says:

Puu! Puu! mia dolcezza

Hey! Hey! My sweet!

Let's now read what a girl writes, grasping the relation between what is beautiful and what is repulsive. Her words give us an example of the ability of children to hold together and to distinguish fantasy and reality:

Io avrei voluto essere Rosabianca perché ha voluto amare il porco anche se era sporco e puzzulente, ma alla fine ha avuto il meglio.

A me ha colpito molto quando c'erano le fate perché fanno gli incantesimi, perché nel mondo vero la magia non esiste e a me piacerebbe ancora un mondo dove ci fossero le fate a fare gli incantesimi.

I would have wanted to be Rosabianca because she wanted to love the pig even though he was dirty and stinking, but finally she had the best.
 For me it was very impressive when there were the fairies because they can use magic, because in the real world magic does not exist and I would still like a world where there were fairies who could use magic. 

The unbelievable miracle of the encounter, which makes the humanization possible, happens with a magical ease, as the following three pupils write:

[...] e così il Porco si levò le pelli lerce e diventò un bellissimo principe

[...] and so the Pig took off his filthy skins and turned into a very handsome prince

[...] alla notte, all'ora dell'ultimo sonno, Principe Porco si toglieva la cotica

...by night, at the hour of the last sleep, Prince Pig took of his rind.

[...] la sposa Rosabianca rimase sorpresa dalla belezza del Re Porco e infilandosi sotto le coperte la Regina Rosabianca lo abbracciò con amore

[...] the bride Rosabianca was surprised by the beauty of the Pig King and slipping under the blankets the Queen Rosabianca embraced him with love.

The story tells that for a time Rosabianca kept the secret, but then she wanted to tell the happy news to the queen mother and the king father. The royal parents secretly went by night to see their son with two torches. A boy draws the royal parents skulking like thieves with two electric torches, to light the wedding bed of Rosabianca and the prince. Jeans, shirts, ermine mantles, and two crowns are hanging on the hall stand. The boy drows the room funiture and the torches that he knows. 
The sense does not change, even if the name of the female main actant changes a little (though this often happens in fairy tales), and the expressive grace does not decreas if the syntax and spelling are not perfect:

Rosa bella disse con la Regina e il Re che Re porco di notte si togliesse la pelle sporta di letame e se la togliesse per andare a letto. Il Re e la Regina con il lumino e andarono a vedere e videro che la pelle di letame sul pavimento.

Rosa bella told the Queen and the King that Pig King by night would take off his skin dirty with manure and would take it off to go to bed. The King and the Queen with the small light went to see and saw that manure skin was on the floor.

If a word is unknown, the pupils however give it a meaning. It happens with the word torcia (meaning both torcia elettrica and fiaccola - similarly to the English torch, meaning both the electric light and the ancient flambeau).
A boy draws the king and the queen secretely going to see their son by the light of two big electric torches. The royal wedding room's furniture is reminiscent of the style of Ikea, but a canopy always surrounds the wedding bed.
When the royal parents shine a light on their handsome son in the bed and his pig skin on the floor, they destroy the pig skin, so that their son will be forever human, and then they abdicate.

A girl tells the happy ending, when the succession is finally possible, using an unappropriate Italian adjective for the crowd: clamorosa (clamorous, resounding). She probably intended acclamante (acclaiming crowd). But we feel that this unappropriate word clamorosa means something more than acclamante, reminding us of the astonishing metamorphosis of the animal prince and the equally astonishing acceptance of his third wife.

[...] al mattino dopo il re fece sedere sul trono il Principe che nominò Re Porco davanti alla folla clamorosa

[...] on the following morning the king made the Prince sit on the throne naming him Pig King in front of the clamorous crowd