Friday, December 03, 2010

Anyone Know What This Fairy-Tale's Called ?

When my darling and I were reading a lot of fairy-tales at bedtime, we read one which we've not been able to find again since in the works of Andersen or the Brothers Grimm.

A young man is out in a boat on the river, and overturns. Drowning in the weeds at the bottom of the river, he's saved by the river fairy/sprite, they fall in love and he can now live underwater.

But he hankers after his old friends and acquaintances 'up above'. Oh, to see them again and to find out what's happening in the wide world!

So she lets him go, as the Hebridean witch-queen Thorgunna released Lief Ericsson, on condition of his return.

And like Lief, our young man forgets his betrothed and his promise - and eventually is due to marry someone else.

Come the wedding day, and it's starting to rain. By the time bride, groom and guests are in the church, it's raining stair-rods (I paraphrase) and the river is rising fast. Before they get to 'I do', the river is sweeping all before it - church, bride, groom, guests and all. That's what comes of slighting the river-fairy.

I told you my daughter liked the doomy, gloomy stuff.

Anyone know what the story's called ?


Foxy Brown said...

It sounds remarkably similiar to the story of the nixie Undine. After her mortal husband returns to land, he falls in love and forgets her. If I remember rightly, she kills him with a kiss in his bedchamber, on the eve of the second marriage. Check out the Aarne/Thompson index on folktales - stories with similiar motifs are subdivided into groups.

The Germanic storytelling tradition is distinctly sinister. Andersen was a master of this form. The Brothers Grimm prettified their tales (they concealed the details of Rapunzel's out-of-wedlock pregnancy) and gave them happy endings. Disney killed the genre completely.

For a more in-depth discussion on European fairy stories, anything by Jack Zipes is a good read.

Anonymous said...

"Thorgunna be soooorry!"

"The Water Babes II"

Anonymous said...

In this country it is "I will", not "I do". The latter is Yankspeak.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Have you looked at the Norse sagas to find it? "Grönland saga", or Vinland saga" maybe. "Orkneyinga" it is not. "Frifthjofs sage" from Tegner?

I think it is TAKEN from one of those. Sounds familiar from studying them at uni.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Follow ups on an S class Mercedes to...

Furor Teutonicus said...

Moment, Try also "Eric the Red" saga. I also seem to remember in the dark distant parts of my mind, that there is a "Leif Ericsson" saga, or a similar name, about the same person.

Laban said...

No, the tale of Thorgunna and Lief is from the Erik saga, as imagined by Henry Treece in 'Vinland the Good' (that Freydis was a bad'un, and no mistake).

But the water sprite is a mainland European story. I just can't find what it is, although it must be in a book in our house somewhere.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Eric saga/Eric the red saga. The same book different translations.

That is what I said.