Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Search that Lead to a Discovery

I wasn't going to write a blog tonight, but after rediscovering a fairytale I read back when I was in high school, I felt I had to share!  I could remember little more about the tale than that the boy had golden hair because he stuck it in a pond and somehow got stuck in a wood with a wild man.  I went to my favorite fairytale site and determined to read every fairytale until I found the one I was looking for.  But without a title, I had little to go on.  I vaguely remembered that the Grimm brothers had written a version of the tale and went to my Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales book in hopes of finding the fairytale.  However, the titles ran together, and I still didn't have my story. 
 I went back to Folktexts, my fairytale site, and began to read again.  While reading I happened upon a fairytale called "The Blue Light."   I was thrilled to discover a European version of Aladdin, not that I don't love the Arabic version.  Although there wasn't a Genii, there was a magical dwarf, a princess, a witch, and a mean king (there's really no better way to describe him).  After reading the tale, I simply fell in love.  The two versions, published in 1815 and 1857, told the story of a knight who was exiled by the king because he was either too old or wounded.  He comes across a witch and after a series of tasks goes into a dark well to get a blue light for her.  (Sound familiar, think Disney's version of the Cave of Wonders.)  In the end, he tricks the witch out of the light, goes back to the kingdom, and through a series of smiles and misfortunes he receives the king's daughter as his wife.  I have purposely left out much of the tale because it simply must be read.  I have a link to Folktexts on this blog so that anyone can have quick access to the tales.  It's under B and named "The Blue Light."  There are also several others tales of the same type listed with this tale. 
 It's amazing how fairytales come from all over the place, yet still the plots can be linked back to one master story.  This is probably why I am so intrigued by the stories. Anyway, so I continued my search for the "untitled fairytale" and finally thought to myself "Why not just check and see if you saved it?" So I did, and I found it listed under "Iron Hans"; however, since my book calls it "Iron John," I will use that title instead.  I reread the tale and to my disappointment (or maybe "The Blue Light" was just too good) I didn't enjoy it as much as I did the time before.  I remembered the story differently and had a preconceived notion of what the tale was supposed to be.
 Now to make my point, because I do have one.  "The Blue Light" is a variation of Aladdin, a tale most everyone is familiar with.  Somehow, someway, it changed throughout history into the different versions that are accessible today and the others that are not still accessible.  When I went back and reread "Iron John," I had an expectation for the story. Because I couldn't remember it, my mind created a new story that it enjoyed so much more, so now when I tell the story of "Iron John," I will add my own renditions to the story, and that is how fairytales are created and changed.
 This is highly important because it is what the Grimm brothers did, and what Walt Disney did.  Even the original storytellers changed and tweeked the stories to their own liking.  Will we ever know the original?  Probably not, but we can enjoy the stories that have been passed down and adapted to our day and age, and I wonder when the next generation of Grimm and Disney will come around to recreate these fairytales once again into something new and exciting that a new generation can relate too. 

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