“East of the Sun and West of the Moon” is the third entry in The Blue Fairy Book. This Norwegian fairy tale was originally collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. It is Aarne–Thompson type 425A, Search for the Lost Husband. It is related to both the tale of “Cupid and Psyche” in The Golden Ass and to “Beauty and the Beast.” Beauty and the Beast is usually given its own subcategory as 425C which has the same name as the tale. East of the Sun and West of the Moon is usually placed in 425A: The Animal Bridegroom (Thompson 1945). You can read the entire fairy tale for free at Patreon.
To kick off the new year, I’ve started a project revolving around Andrew Lang‘s The Blue Fairy Book (1889), which was the first of twelve “coloured” fairy tale collections published through 1910. There are 37 tales in The Blue Fairy Book, which includes seven tales from the Brothers Grimm, five from Madame d’Aulnoy, three from the Arabian Nights, and four Norwegian fairytales, among other sources. Every eight to ten days, I will be posting one of the fairy tales along with my notes of potential links, mash-ups, and outside sources on Patreon. Other posts will include commentary on the original authors and collectors of these tales, links to contemporary retellings, and classic fairy tale illustrations. It’s going to be a fun ride, and I hope you will join me on this adventure.
The Blue Fairy Book (1889) Table of Contents
- The Bronze Ring
- Prince Hyacinth and the Dear Little Princess
- East of the Sun and West of the Moon
- The Yellow Dwarf
- Little Red Riding Hood
- The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood
- Cinderella or the Little Glass Slipper
- Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
- The Tale of a Youth Who Set Out to Learn What Fear Was
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Master Maid
- Why the Sea Is Salt
- The Master Cat or Puss in Boots
- Felicia and the Pot of Pinks
- The White Cat
- The Water-lily. The Gold-spinners
- The Terrible Head
- The Story of Pretty Goldilocks
- The History of Whittington
- The Wonderful Sheep
- Little Thumb
- The Forty Thieves
- Hansel and Gretel
- Snow-White and Rose-Red
- The Goose-girl
- Toads and Diamonds
- Prince Darling
- Blue Beard
- Trusty John
- The Brave Little Tailor
- A Voyage to Lilliput
- The Princess on the Glass Hill
- The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou
- The History of Jack the Giant-killer
- The Black Bull of Norroway
- The Red Etin
Workshop registration is open for the Spring 2019 sections of Intersections: Science Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Myth. Space is limited.
SECTION I: the second week of February (11-17) through the third week of March (18-24)
Week 1 (2/11-2/17): Introductions, Into the Dark Wood (prompts), Modules 1-3 Discussion.
Week 2 (2/18-2/24): “The Snow Queen” & Melting Polar Caps
Week 3 (2/25-3/3): “Iron Henry, or the Frog Prince” & Invasive Species
Week 4 (3/4-3/10): “Little Mermaid” & Pollution (Earth’s Oceans and Orbit)
Week 5 (3/11-3/17: Revision and Submission Strategies & Marketing Tools for Authors
Week 6 (3/18-3/24): Portfolio Presentations
SECTION II: first week of April (1-7) through mid-May)
Week 1 (4/1-4/7): Introductions, Into the Dark Wood (prompts), Modules 1-3 Discussion.
Week 2 (4/8-4/14): “Bluebeard” & DNA Databanks
Week 3 (4/15-4/21): “Thumbelina” & Microbes and Mites
Week 4 (4/22-4/28): “Little Red Riding Hood” & The Natural History of the Color Red
Week 5 (4/29-5/5): Revision and Submission Strategies & Marketing Tools for Authors
NO CLASS: StokerCon (5/6-5/12)
Week 6 (5/13-5/19): Portfolio Presentations
The siren is a mythical creature who has taken many forms throughout history, but how has that image changed? How did we go from the sirens of old to the mermaid-like creatures we see portrayed today? And — most importantly — where did they come from?
Originally, and according to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the sirens were the human companions of the chthonic goddess Persephone — or, at this point, just the daughter of Demeter. However, when Hades comes to take her away, the sirens are blamed for her kidnapping, and Demeter punishes them by turning them into winged women. In some versions of the myth, the sirens pray for wings in order to search for their lost charge and the gods grant their prayers. However, one thing is for certain: they were winged creatures, NOT mermaids.
Sirens were originally an amalgamation of birds and women, starting — in early Greek art — as simply birds with the heads of women. Later, they became more like the centaurs with their human torsos (of a woman), though with the legs of a bird and giant wings. Sirens were known to have singing voices that were so beautiful, so alluring, that sailors were known to jump overboard their vessels and drown — which is how we get the story of Odysseus in the Odyssey, telling his crew to stopper their ears with wax while he himself was tied to the mast of the ship to listen to their voices. Not only were these winged women gifted singers, but they were also said to be adept with the lyre, even going so far as to challenge the Muses to a competition. Which, of course, the sirens lost.
So how did we go from winged women to the mermaids we see today? As the siren myth travelled through Europe, and their name was translated through multiple languages, they began to be viewed exclusively as water creatures — though still remaining quite hostile, capable of wreaking havoc wherever they turned up. However, the truth might lie in, what Emily Wilson — a classicist from the University of Pennsylvania who became known for her new English translation of Homer’s Odyssey — concludes is, faulty translations. She believes that many translators have allowed themselves to be influenced by modern culture, which has led them to depict the siren as being a water-dwelling creature rather than the winged women they were.
As well as being possibly mistranslated, the word “Sirenia” in Latin today is a term used to describe the order of fully aquatic and herbivorous mammals such as the manatee, which has been mistaken in the past as being a mermaid itself.
Whether the siren be winged creatures or mermaids, there seems to be the common thread that they are considered fierce, destructive creatures who are musically gifted. And though their image has shifted, their place in myth will forever be solidified.
The siren in popular culture: We of course have seen sirens in movies and television shows, from the show Siren all the way to the movie Sinbad (though we mostly just see their mermaid counterpart). However, in literature, we have seen a wide variety of sirens from Amanda Hocking’s Wake series in which the sirens can shift from mermaids to winged women to humans, to Jes Dory’s take on sirens in Isle in which they are connected to the Lamia, all the way to The Siren in which Kiera Cass has combined both myths of sirens and mermaids together in this Little Mermaid retelling.
For more information about Sirens and their mythology (sources):
Hello everyone. I didn’t get as much support for the fundraiser as I’d hoped, but I still want to offer a seat in the Monstrous Women workshop to a promising writer who wouldn’t be able to attend otherwise. The class begins on Thursday, August 30 and runs from 6-8:30 pm (MST). This is a reoccurring live workshop that meets weekly (with the exception of 10/25 and 11/22) through December 13.
To be considered for this scholarship placement, send a letter of intent, a financial need statement, and a short excerpt (up to 1,000 words) of your work to my email address (email@example.com). The application period is short–just 4 days–so get your applications in by midnight MST on August 28. The award will be announced on Wednesday, August 29. Feel free to share! I look forward to reading your stories.
p.s. It’s not too late to support the scholarship fund. If you want to help a writer attend, the GoFundMe campaign is still live.
About the Workshop
This immersive workshop is designed to accommodate flexible scheduling options with no more than five participants assigned to each workshop. While craft development is included in the workshop process, the primary focus of this course is on the exploration of monstrous women in classic literature and myth as a way of providing seed material for original stories. There are five modules included in Monstrous Women II: A Feminist Approach to Myth and Magic –The Shifting Shapes of Animal Brides, The Seductive Allure of the Femme Fatale, Weeping Women and Tearful Prophecies, The Female Descent into Hysteria and Madness, and Mayhem in Numbers and the Sacred Three. Weekly meetings alternate between discussions and workshops. Module materials include introductory information, select excerpts, resource links, popular re-tellings, quotes & trivia, writing prompts, and discussion questions.