Monday, January 13, 2003

Out of the Well in the Woods

13 Jan 2003 Out of the Well in the Woods

Originally, there were two Frog stories in the First Edition of the Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmaerchen: The Frog Prince and the Frog King or Iron Henry. Edgar Taylor, intranslating the stories combine the two together, taking from the Frog King or Iron Henry, the opening of the story and closing it with the ending of the Frog Prince. However, in the later editions of the stories, the brothers dropped The Frog Prince, retaining Thr Frog King or Iron Henry with its frog-tossing event. Apparently the violence disturbed Edgar Taylor, for he put the frog gently on the pillow.

The story is believed to be of German origin, going back to the 13th century with a Latin source. It appeared in Scotland in 1549 as The Well at the World's End, found in The Complaynt of Scotland. The first English translation was by Edgar Taylor in 1823, succeeded by translations of Richard Chambers and Joseph Jacobs.

The Brothers Grimm's tale went through a transformation akin to the frog's. A quick glance at the comparison chart created by students at George Washington University reveals how the text was expanded and changed through the editions. The introduction of the princess changed from a simple statement in the 1st Ed. , "A King's daughter, to the hyperbole of the 3d Ed., a King whose daughters were all handsome, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun himself, who had seen so much, wondered each time..." Surely such a transition is not by accident but by device. Originally, the stories may have been gathered like straggling wildflowers from an overgrown meadow, but surely the brothers snipped away at the dead leaves, pruning them to bring forth blossoms and sweet fruit. As Gary V. Hartman points out, the brothers were philologists, professors of German Literature, having sound knowledge of Classical Literature, who had profound influence over the usage of German language usage and literature studies that spread outwards to England and America. The stories, like Ovid's Metamorphoses, are frequently used for psychological analysis by Freud, Jung, Bettelheim and others to explain human nature and the world we live in. In overlooking the craftmanship of the writing, the reader ignores the depth of the language with its literary devices and symbolism. The stories have effectively been used for political propaganda, frequently appearing on the Banned Books List . Variations spread across the world.

The brothers gathered the tales as a way to establish national identity of the German people who suffered French rule. Although this seems rather simplistic form of nationalism, the Irish followed their lead with Celtic consciousness and revivalism of Celtic culture. As myths and fairytales frequently embed historical events in symbols, Did the Frog King reflect the Grimm's nationalism? In searching for the Frog King, I crossed a website of amphibious trivia and was reminded of the French-- well-known for eating froglegs by the epithet, Frog. According to the site, Clovis I, was the first to use the Fleur de Lis as the emblem of France, before then, apparently the Franks were identified by a frog.

Clovis the Frank (466-511) married the daughter or niece of Gondebad, the Burgundian King, seated in Vienne. Clovis, a pagan, married a Christian. He won Gaul and SW Germany by fighting the Romans, Alemanni, Burgundians and Visigoths. Later through the persuasion of his wife Clothilde, he converted to Christianity at Reims. The story is that the chrism, needed to annoint him, could not be found, but was supplied by a dove descending from heaven. This legend became the basis for the coronation of French kings to take place at Reims until Charles X.. Clovis invaded and overtook the lands which now belong to Germany, Austria, northern Italy and Spain, reaching westward to the Lowlands. Perhaps, the brothers with their thorough understanding of history purposely used the Frog-tossing incident to recall the subordination of the German/ Burgundian Lands to the Franks and later, the Napoleonic invasions. Definitely, they wanted their princess to defend herself and not passively submit. And certainly, only arfter Clovis conversion, did he act like a prince to his Burgundian in-laws, but as a barbarian to others.

all you ever wanted to know about frogs but were too ignorant to ask,

trivia , facts and myths about frogs. ah, the French were called Frogs. Why? because Paris was surrounded by swamps and one had to be amphibious to live there. Or because they are the world leaders in frogleg consumption.

Sur la Lune Fairytales: Frog King History
a short summary of the story's history with links to similar stories

D. L Ashlimann, U of Pittsburgh: Frog Kings Aarne-Thompson Type 440
a listing of Frog King stories, the English translation and adaption by Edgar Taylor who radically changed the text, romanticisng it and creating a mushy princess. Both the Frog Prince and Frog King or Iron Henry are supplied in fulltext here.

Joseph Jacobs
The Well at the World's End
English Fairy Tales, David Nutt, 1890
the girl's rudeness is exaggerated and she has to behead the frog. Although originally her intention was to get rid of the girl, the stepmother is neither evil nor good, perhaps reflecting our worst intentions actually have good results sometimes; but good intentions often turn out badly.

The Frog Prince
George Washington University

The Changes Made in Frog King by the Grimm Brothers

FrogKing Psychoanalysis

The C G Jung Page: The Loose-leaf Fairytale Book
Gary V. Hartman, Diplomate, C.G. Jung Institute Z├╝rich
commentary including an attempt at interpreting symbols.

New Advent: Clovis I
a short history of Clovis I that describes the legends and written history of his rule. Clotilda was the niece of Gondebad, King of the Burgundians.

Wikipedia: Clovis
hypertext history of Paris, Clovis and the Franks

Medieval Sourcebook: Gregory of Tours on Clovis
preserved medieval text

the legend of Clovis : Clovis
hyperlinked text that gives historical and geographical information

What happened in AD508
another discussion of the consequences of Clovis' reign


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