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Friday, September 24, 2021

The Woful Knight - Marie de France - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

HUZZAH!  It's the penultimate weekend (yeah, the next to the last) at the Michigan Renaissance Festival.

Photo by Pseudopanax at English Wikipedia

While it's not storytelling, I'm active with community theatre groups within half an hour from my home and two of them, Lakeland Players and Pontiac Theatre IV, annually take a weekend as a fundraiser and work the RenFest.  It's this weekend and I'll become a Wine Wench at the wine tasting booth this Sunday afternoon, so I'd love to see you there.

That made me think of a medieval author, Marie de France.  She wrote in French, which means I need to use translations.  Unfortunately I don't know of any recent translator who allowed their translation of her many tales to lapse into Public Domain by not renewing the copyright.  She wrote a most appropriate story about jousting.  The only version I could find was in a 1910 edition by Isabel Butler.  Butler titled it Tales from the Old French and I'll confess I stressed the word "Old" in the title as I really think Butler went out of her way to make her translation have an "antique" style.  I imagine she was also challenged by the originals being written in verse.  The intricate title page and initial letters opening each story are not credited to any illustrator which seems a shame.  Butler has a bit more to say about Marie de France, but the story deserves to be told first.  (Butler mentions a werewolf tale by Marie I plan to post next month in a modern retold Public Domain version.)

This story is a "lay" from a section of "lais" Butler groups together.  If you're wondering about that, it's an older use of the word meaning a ballad, melody or song.  Similarly "Woful" should be translated as it sounds: woeful.  The only other explanations you might want are place names and their residents. "Bretaigne" is the French word for the northwestern region of Brittany.  The Hainaulters (sometimes spelled without the "l") are from the north eastern part of France now on the French-Belgian border.

G

Gladly would I call to remembrance a lay whereof I have heard men speak; I will tell you its name and its story, and show you the city whence it sprang. Some call it The Woful Knight, but many there are who name it The Four Sorrows.

At Nantes in Bretaigne dwelt a lady who was rich in beauty and wisdom and all seemliness. And in that land was no knight of prowess who, and if he did but see her, straightway loved her not and besought her. She could in no wise love them all, yet none did she wish to renounce. And better it is to love and woo all the ladies of the land than to rob one fool of his motley, for he will speedily fall to fighting over it, whereas a lady doth pleasure to all in fair friendliness. And though it be not her will to hearken to them, yet ought she not to give them ill words, but rather hold them dear and honour them, and render them service and thanks. Now the lady of whom I would tell you was so besought in love by reason of her beauty and worth that many a one had a hand therein.

In Bretaigne, in those days, lived four barons; their names I cannot tell you, but though they were young of age, yet were they comely, brave, and valiant knights, generous, courteous, and free-handed; of gentle birth were they in that land, and held in high honour. These four loved the lady, and strove in well doing for her sake; and each did his uttermost to win her and her love. Each sought her by himself, and set thereto all his intent; and there was not one but thought to succeed above all the rest.

Now the lady was of right great discretion, and much bethought her to inquire and discover which it were best to love; for all alike were of such great worship that she knew not how to choose the best among them. And in that she was not minded to lose three for one, she made fair semblance to each, and gave them tokens, and sent them messengers; of the four not one knew how it stood with other, and none could she bring herself to reject. So each one hoped by entreaty and loyal service to speed better than the rest. And wheresoever knights come together, each wished to be the first in well doing, if that he might, to thereby please his lady. All alike called her their love, each one wore her favour, whether ring or sleeve or pennon, and each cried her name in the tourney.

And she on her part loved them all, and bore them all in hand, until it fell that after an Easter time, a tournament was cried before the city of Nantes. To learn the worth of the four lovers, many a man came from other lands,—Frenchmen and Normans, Flemings and Angevins, and men of Brabant, and of Boulogne, and likewise those from near at hand; all alike came thither with good will, and long time sojourned there. And on the evening of the tourney they joined battle full sharply.

The four lovers had armed themselves and issued out of the city: and though their knights followed after, on them fell the burden. Those from abroad knew [20] them by their pennons and shields, and against them they sent four knights, two Flemings and two Hainaulters, ready dight for the onset; not one but was keen to join battle. And the four lovers on their part, when they saw the knights come against them, were of no mind to give back. At full speed, with lowered lance, each man chooseth his fellow, and they come together so stoutly that the four out-landers are brought to ground. No care had the four comrades for the horses, rather they let them run free, and they took their stand above the fallen knights, who anon are rescued by their fellows. Great was the press in that rescue, and many a blow was struck with sword.

The lady, meantime, was on a tower, whence she might well behold her men and their followers; she seeth her lovers bear themselves right bravely, and which among them deserveth best she knoweth not.

So the tourney was begun, and the ranks increased and thickened; and many a time that day before the gate was the battle renewed. The four lovers did right valiantly, that they won praise above all the rest, till evening fell and it was time to dispart. Then far from their men, too recklessly they set their lives in jeopardy; dearly they paid for it, for there three were slain, and the fourth hurt and so wounded in thigh and body that the lance came out at his back. Right through were they smitten, and all four fell to ground. They who had slain them threw down their shields upon the field; unwittingly had they done it, and right heavy were they therefor. So the noise arose and the cry; never was sorrow heard like unto that. They of the city hasted thither, for no whit did they fear those outlanders. Two thousand were there that for sorrow for the four knights unlaced their ventails, and tore their hair and their beards. All alike shared that grief.

Then each of those four was laid upon a shield, and carried into the city to the lady who had loved them, and so soon as she heard the adventure, she fell down on the hard ground in a swoon. When she recovered her wit, she made sore lament for each by name. "Alas," saith she, "what shall I do? Never more shall I know gladness. These four knights I loved, and each by himself I desired, for of great worship were they, and they loved me more than aught else that liveth. By reason of their beauty and prowess, their valour and generosity, I led them to set their thoughts on love of me, and I would not lose all three by taking one. Now I know not which I should pity most; yet can I not feign or disemble herein. One I see wounded and three slain; nothing have I in the world to comfort me. Now will I let bury the dead; and if the wounded knight may be healed, gladly will I do what I may herein, and fetch him good doctors of physic." So she made him be carried into her own chambers. Then she directed that the others be made ready; richly and nobly she appareled them with great love. And to a rich abbey, wherein they were buried, she made great gifts and offerings. Now may God grant them sweet mercy.

Meantime she had summoned wise leeches, and had set them in charge of the knight, who lay wounded in her own chamber until he began to mend. Often she went to see him, and sweetly she comforted him; but much she regretted the other three, and made great lament for them.

And one summer day after meat, when she was talking with the knight, she remembered her of her great sorrow, and bent low her head. So she fell deep in thought, and he, beginning to watch her, perceived her thoughtfulness. Courteously he addressed her: "Lady, you are in distress. What is in your thoughts? Tell me, and let be your sorrow. Surely you should take comfort." "Friend," saith she, "I fell a-thinking, and remembered me of your comrades. Never will any lady of my lineage, however fair and worthy and wise she may be, love another such four, or in one day lose them all, as I lost all,—save you alone, who were wounded and in sore jeopardy of death. And in that I have so loved ye four, I would that my griefs were held in remembrance, wherefore of you I will make a lay, and call it The Four Sorrows." When he had heard her, quickly the knight made answer: "Dame, make the new lay, but call it The Woful Knight. And I will show you why it should be so named: the other three long since died, and spent all their worldly life in the great torment they endured by reason of the love they bore you. But I, who have escaped with life, all uncounselled and all woful, often see her whom I love most in the world come and go, and speak to me morning and evening, yet may I have neither kiss nor embrace, nor any joy of her, save that of speech only. A hundred such sorrows you make me endure; rather had I suffer death. For this reason shall the lay be named for me; The Woful Knight shall it be called, and whosoever termeth it The Four Sorrows will change its true name." "By my faith," saith she, "this pleaseth me well; now let us call it The Woful Knight."

Thus was the lay begun, and thereafter ended and spread abroad; but of those that carried it through the land some called it The Four Sorrows. Each of the names suiteth the lay well, for the matter demandeth both; but commonly it is called The Woful Knight. Here it endeth and goeth no farther; more there is not so far as I have heard or known, and no more will I tell you.

***

In her Epilogue, Butler gives some background on Marie de France I think is worth knowing: 

The lais, like the romances to which they are close akin, belong to the courtly literature of the time and found their audience in hall and castle. Denis Pyramus, a contemporary, in writing of Marie de France, tells us her lays were "beloved and held right dear by counts and barons and knights," and that "ladies likewise took great joy and delight in them." Like the romances which they helped to foster and which superseded them, the lays tell of love and adventure, of enchantment and strange happenings. In them side by side with the knights and squires and ladies move fays and giants and werewolves. Their material is that of folklore and fairy-tale. A knight hunting in the lande adventureuse meets a maiden in the forest who leads him to a castle with green walls and shining towers. There he spends three days, and when he would return home again, learns that three hundred years have gone by, that the king, his uncle is dead and his cities have fallen, and there lingers but a legend of the king's nephew who went out to hunt the white boar and was lost in the forest. Often in such lays the old fairy-tale simplicity, its matter-of-fact narration of the marvellous survives; and yet in their somewhat spare brevity they have a grace and charm that lets one feel the beauty, the wonder, or the tragedy of the story.

But the interest in the lays is not always that of the land of faery; sometimes it is human enough, as in The Two Lovers where, despite the old-time test and the magic potion, our delight is all in the maid and the damoiseau "who hath in him no measure." Sometimes, as in Eliduc, we find old, rude material—here a primitive Celtic tale of a man with two wives ill cloaked by its additions of mediæval Christianity—retold with a strange gentleness and sweetness, and turned at moments into a story of emotion and scruple.

Both types occur in the lays of Marie de France,—the best that have come down to us. Besides her lays she versified a collection of fables, Isopet, and translated from the Latin The Purgatory of Saint Patrick,—one of those other-world journeys that preceded the Divine Comedy. Yet apart from her works we have no record of her life. She herself in the prologue of her fables, tells her name: "I am called Marie, and I am of France"; but that is all, and it is only the internal evidence of her writings, their Anglo-Norman dialect, and a few chance hints and phrases that have made scholars decide that she was a Norman, or from that part of the Isle de France which borders upon Normandy, that she lived and wrote in England in the second half of the twelfth century, and that the unnamed king to whom she dedicated the lays was Henry II.

Marie makes no claim to originality of theme; in her prologues she tells us she is but rhyming anew the stories "whereof the Bretons have made lays."

It's almost October, such a spooky month for storytelling and I plan to open with Marie de France's werewolf tale made her own by another author, Barbara Leonie Picard.

******************

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

Friday, September 17, 2021

Last Minute Substitute

Thursday I had a surprise phone call from a school district wanting me to do a program...the next day!  Northville Schools annually produces Heritage Day for their third graders, both public and private schools looking at Victorian times.  It's part of their annual Heritage Festival.  Covid hit the gentleman who works at Greenfield Village and would normally have been their storyteller.  Could I do it?  My website and various directories mention that I do a LOT of historical storytelling.  Victorian?  I do a Hired Girl from Victorian times, but she's usually talking about how here in the United States we celebrated a Victorian Christmas.  Hmmm.  September is a long way from Christmas.  I decided it was best to present as the One-Room Schoolteacher who had tales of schools from long ago.

Five groups of roughly 100 students each heard a 20 minute version of the sort of stories and facts from that time a teacher might share with today's children.  It was fun and I was delighted to introduce them to a past their grandparents or great-grandparents may have experienced.  It made me realize I want to tell more of the stories, all Public Domain, that might have been told to students by a teacher in a classroom, but this time, with only 20 minutes, it was better to explain what a One-Room School was like.

On my own, I found myself thinking back to the pandemic of 100 years ago.  I couldn't present it this time as that was a bit after their focus on the Victorian era.  When I see masks, I've asked at times my adult historical audiences, if the Spanish Influenza  has returned!?!  With my Third Graders, since it was so hard to hear their small voices normally and, even worse, with a mask, I said they all looked like they were going to rob a bank!  They really were quite good with their masks and enjoyed the comparison.

Still I found myself wondering about schools during the Spanish Influenza.  I'd never learned about that aspect of the previous century's pandemic.  I especially wondered about Michigan schools, even though there was good coverage and comparisons about schools on the national level.  

A while back for those earlier historical programs I had learned (not sure about the original sources):

By mid-October, the governor and state health department ordered the closing of churches and "places of public amusemënt," from movie theaters to saloons.  Many communities also closed schools.  After those establishments were re-opened in November, deaths went up in December.

While I have specifics about the death toll throughout the state (first hitting urban centers, but eventually spreading throughout the state) that was as far as my knowledge covered the schools, summarized as "Many communities also closed schools."  When doing a historical program in an area, I research local coverage (such as when presenting my current Prohibition program).  Many cities have coverage about how they were affected by the Spanish Influenza.  Even the little town of Pullman, for example.

Not just Sunday Schools but the regular schools.  At the other size, Hour Detroit did a timeline of how it played out in Detroit and went from   

Oct. 19, 1918

Gov. Sleeper orders the shutdown of “theaters, movies, churches, lodge meetings, political gatherings and all gatherings which can legitimately be construed as non-essential,” the Free Press reports. Schools remain open. 

to

Oct. 22, 1918

Detroit schools are closed, and 56 deaths are reported in the city. Nearly 3,000 teachers are reassigned to “work visiting homes of influenza sufferers and advising in their care,” the Free Press writes.

 Similarly M Live reported:

By mid-October, the epidemic was alarming enough that the state Board of Health and Gov. Albert Sleeper issued an order closing all churches and "places of public amusement."

"There was a lot of push back about closing the saloons and, to a lesser extent, the churches," Navarro said.

Schools were exempted in the state order, but many local officials made that decision on their own, including officials in Detroit.

Of course M Live reports about University of Michigan a great deal.  While I encourage people to look up online information on how specific Michigan cities and villages decided, there's a wealth of information about the University of Michigan (and a bit on Ann Arbor).  Michigan Today is the official university blog.  It tells why the university stayed open rather than let students return home and spread disease or stay in Ann Arbor without classes, gathering at the many restaurants and other spots.  The university did cancel football, however.

Beyond that the university used its resources, including buildings and people (the SATC was the World War I version of the ROTC):

October 11. The old Michigan Union building on State Street — originally the home of Judge Thomas M. Cooley, dean of the Law School — is converted to an infirmary to handle the overflow from University Hospital, the Homeopathic Hospital, and St. Joseph Hospital. Another infirmary is set up in Barbour Gymnasium to house SATC members with only mild symptoms.

and

October 15. Eight die, including five in SATC. Ralph Smith, an Ann Arborite in the corps, dies of a hemorrhage in the lungs; he’d first reported sick at reveille only the day before. Three sisters of Chi Omega are diagnosed. Seniors in the Medical School are assigned to care for the sick. Many SATC men are confined to their quarters, awaiting diagnosis.

“It is like the Hun,” says an SATC sergeant-major. “Either you down him or he gets you.”

Two Army trucks are sent to Detroit for surplus oxygen tanks. Food for quarantined SATC men is transported from University kitchens.

“Squads of men loaded with trays of steaming food hastening through the streets at a gallop have become such a common sight that citizens have ceased to turn and stare,” the Daily reports.

October 16. Ann Arbor schools are closed.

While university students should be more capable of handling mask requirements, even then it was controversial, including among the military who were heavily impacted.  Camp Custer had devastating deaths here in Michigan as a preview before it killed in the trenches of World War I.  

(Remember masks then were made of gauze.)


 October 17. With six to 10 deaths each day in the SATC alone, U-M President Harry Burns Hutchins directs students and faculty to wear face masks at all times. Red Cross volunteers move into the President’s House to sew masks for distribution across the campus starting at seven the next morning. Captain B.C. Vaughan, medical officer of the SATC, says the masks may do more harm than good, since students are unlikely to use and wash them properly. Dr. W.E. Forsythe, head of the University Health Service, says masks are essential to containing the spread.

I hope you enjoyed this historical look at similar times.  I imagine there were Substitute Teachers called, even as I was a last minute Substitute Storyteller.

KEEP ON STORYTELLING & STAY WELL!


Friday, September 10, 2021

Cemetery Walks and Ewing - "The Khoja Peeps Into Futurity" - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Cemeteries can be interesting places to walk and it's even more so when you know something about the people buried there.  This Saturday I will again serve as a guide at Pontiac's historic Oak Hill Cemetery and then next month will be involved with Clarkston's first ever cemetery walk at Lakeview Cemetery.  Both are fundraisers for cemetery improvements.  You might think it's a case of plant the body and forget it, but there's much more needed than a simple lawn mowing as time goes on.

Next month I'll say more about the Lakeview renovation going on (especially tombstone cleaning on the second Saturday of the month in the morning from 10 to noon!).  Oak Hill this year will focus on the Great Migration, which transformed our region as thousands of families came to Pontiac, Detroit, Flint and beyond for booming automotive job opportunities.  I hope you can come see how Pontiac was once a magnet for people to come for jobs.

While thinking about cemeteries, my thoughts turned to a book I recently acquired, Tales of Nasr-Ed-Din Khoja by Henry D. Barnham.  There are five stories about the Hodja (that name is transliterated from the Turkish in several ways) that might work BUT the book is an old, 1923, paperback that wouldn't be treated well by pressing it down against a copier and some pages have very little space in the "gutter", the center area between two pages.  You may have noticed some of my reproductions are more professionally done and it's because I can find the book online at either Project Gutenberg or Archive.org.  This saves my books and also gives additional stories from its original volume.  Unfortunately Tales of Nasr-Ed-Din Khoja doesn't yet appear online except to buy.  Barnham published it in Britain and even with the U.K.'s switch to copyright coverage of 70 years after the death of the author, the book is now Public Domain.  According to the British Library catalogue Henry Dudley Barnham was born in 1854.  Tracking him down genealogically at MyHeritage, he died in 1936.

<SIGH!>  WorldCat shows the book is owned by six U.S. academic libraries near me and a total of 82 worldwide, even in Australia.  I would love to have this book online to save my own copy.

I was able to find two Hodja books at Project Gutenberg.  Using "hodja" I found a book I've long known, Told in the Coffee House: Turkish Tales by Cyrus Adler and Allan Ramsay.  Unfortunately, while it does include many Hodja tales, I didn't find anything related to cemeteries.  Using "khoja", however, I discovered a new-to-me book, Miscellanea by Juliana Horatia Ewing, which contains indeed a "miscellanea" including 52 brief tales about the Hodja, who she explains as "A Khoja is a religious teacher, and sometimes a school-master also."  Another name for his title people might recognize is "Imam."  The tales might benefit from modern editing, but one Hodja tale that fits today's topic and is fairly well known is #25, "The Khoja Peeps Into Futurity."  Most are illustrated, but credit to the illustrator is almost buried in the preface to this book, which combines several of her books, saying "written after Mrs. Ewing's marriage, with the help of her husband; he supplied the facts and descriptions from things which he had seen during his long residence abroad. Colonel Ewing also helped my sister in translating the Tales of the Khoja from the Turkish. The illustrations now reproduced were drawn by our brother, Alfred Scott-Gatty."

Tale 25.—The Khoja Peeps Into Futurity.

Having need of a stout piece of wood, the Khoja one day decided to cut off a certain branch from a tree that belonged to him, as he perceived that it would serve his purpose.

Taking, therefore, his axe in his hand, and tucking his skirts into his girdle, he climbed the tree, and the branch he desired being firm and convenient, he seated himself upon it, and then began to hack and hew.

As he sat and chopped a man passed by below him, who called out and said, "O stupid man! What are you doing? When the branch is cut through you will certainly fall to the ground."

"Are the decrees of the future less veiled from this man than from me, who am a Khoja?" said Nasr-ed-Deen Effendi to himself, and he made the man no reply, but chopped on.

In a few moments the branch gave way, and the Khoja fell to the ground.

When he recovered himself he jumped up, and ran after the man who had warned him.

(THE KHOJA FALLS)

"O you fellow!" cried he. "It has happened to me even as you foretold. At the moment when the branch was cut through I fell to the ground. Now, therefore, since the future is open to thee, I beseech thee to tell me the day of my death."

"This madness is greater than the other," replied the man. "The day of death is among the hidden counsels of the Most High."

But the Khoja held him by the gown and continued to urge him, saying, "You told me when I should fall from the tree, and it came to pass to the moment. Tell me now how long I have to live." And as he would not release him, but kept crying, "How much time have I left?" the man lost patience, and said, "O fool! there is no more time left to thee. The days of the years of thy life are numbered."

"Then I am dead, lo I am dead!" said the Khoja, and he lay down, and stiffened himself, and did not move.

By and by his neighbours came and stood at his head, and having observed him, they brought a bier and laid him on it, saying, "Let us take him to his own house."

Now in the way thither there was in the road a boggy place, which it was difficult to pass, and the bearers of the bier stood still and consulted, saying, "Which way shall we go?"

And they hesitated so long that the Khoja, becoming impatient, raised his head from the bier, and said, "That's the way I used to go myself, when I was alive."

*******

I don't expect any of the residents of Oak Hill Cemetery to correct us on what they did while alive nor where they expected to be buried.  Come on out if you can.  If you can't, at least the Hodja gave you a smile once again.

******************
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

Friday, September 3, 2021

Folk Stories from Afghanistan

For a variety of reasons stories from Afghanistan may need telling.  I don't have any Public Domain resources, but that doesn't prevent telling those stories as long as they aren't electronically published.  I do have four books with twice as many stories that I should be able to give here the "bones" of their stories.  The books should be available either as used books or by interlibrary loan as they are in fairly standard anthologies.

This photo by EJ Wolfson on Unsplash gives a good view of Afghanistan beyond the cities.


Before opening the four books, it never hurts to get an overview.  Here's a slightly compressed version of the introductory paragraphs in the Wikipedia article on Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. It is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to the north, and Tajikistan and China to the northeast. The country is predominately mountainous with plains in the north and southwest. It is inhabited by mostly of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. Kabul serves as its capital and largest city.

Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country's strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia. The land has historically been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviets, and in 2001 by the United States with NATO-allied countries. It has been called "unconquerable"[13][14] and nicknamed the "graveyard of empires",[15] though it has been occupied during several different periods of its history. 

These are the four books I recommend: 

  1. Bulatkin, I.F. - Eurasian Folk and Fairy Tales
  2. Carpenter, Frances - The Elephant's Bathtub; Wonder Tales from the Far East
  3. Dorson, Richard M. - Folktales Told Around the World
  4. Protter, Eric and Nancy - Folk and Fairy Tales of Far-Off Lands

It's interesting that the stories tend towards Trickster tales.  Bulatkin's "The Hare and the Tiger" has an aging tiger forcing the forest creatures to sacrifice one of themselves daily until hare avoids his day to become the tiger's meal.  The next day he claims to have been captured by another tiger even more powerful.  The enraged old tiger wants to be shown the braggart.  Hare says he lives in a nearby well.  Takes the tiger there.  Tiger is fooled when he sees himself reflected in the well.  Jumps in and drowns.

Protter has a common theme of two brothers, with the older one accepting a job with the promise he will do all the hiring farmer requires without losing his temper or he will be penalized.  The farmer in turn promises he will pay the penalty if the worker makes him lose his temper.  The older one becomes trapped by this, but the younger brother rescues him by an even stricter agreement that ends in the farmer losing his temper and learning to treat his workers fairly.  As I said, the theme isn't new, but it is extremely well done.

Professor Dorson was noted for his work in folklore and his use of standard storytelling motifs makes it possible to summarize each of his tales in that way.  

  • "The Romance of Mongol Girl and Arab Boy" combines many: "love at first sight" sharing the separation of the sexes with "communication of lovers through hole in wall" along with "princess so lovely every one falls in love with her."  There's also "task performed with help of old woman", "bride purchased for her weight in gold" and much more as the tale is long and complex.
  • "The Decapitation of Sufi Islam" is much shorter and simpler with motifs of "severed head moves from place to place" and "saint unharmed by fire.  It's a legend usually told by devotees of the Karukh Sufi order as Sufi Islam was their founder.
  • "The Two Thieves with the Same Wife" combines that Indian tale type with another found in Russia, Lithuania, and India of "one party relates the situation in the form of a tale, to the gentleman who is being robbed."  Added motifs include "identification by matching parts of divided token" and "the stolen and re-stolen ham (or in this case money)."
  • "Khastakhumar and Bibinagar" uses something best known in the tale of Cupid and Psyche, the motif of "the search for the lost husband." Because of Afghan religious commitments, the wife drops her ring in a jug of water instead of a glass of wine.  Other changes have the the enchanted husband and his wife boil the ogre co-wife (instead of a servant) in boiling water to escape, because of their negative view of polygamy.  There are magical objects aplenty as well as the punishment of wandering till iron shoes are worn out.
  • "The Seventy-Year-Old Corpse" combines the "supplanted bride" (a sub-type of the Cupid and Psyche type) with "prediction by bird that girl will have a dead husband", "disenchantment by removal of enchanting thorn", "false bride finishes true bride's task and supplants her", with "recognition by overheard conversation with objects."

The story by Carpenter, "One Mean Trick Deserves Another" is a good ending piece somewhat similar to Protter, but where the foolish son is tricked out of selling the family's nanny goat by a family of six brothers.  The boy's father is so clever that he is called Assad the Wise and manages to trick each of the brothers in turn into paying him a lot of money and ultimately getting a judge to give Assad all they own and kick them forever out of town. 

UPDATE -- UPDATE -- UPDATE -- 

Fellow storyteller from Canada, Norman Perrin, added to these books with this additional information:

A list of Afghan story collections, , not as easy to access, my apologies,
for those up to the challenge of finding them.
From oldest to most recent.

Tales of Afghanistan  Amina Shah   Octagon 1982
18 traditional tales by a storyteller who grew up in Afghanistan.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amina_Shah
No notes.

Folktales of Afghanistan   Asha Dhar  Sterling Publishers  1982
17 tales, the last story has six tales of Afghan trickster Abu Khan
No notes, with a brief introduction on the stories and Afghan culture and
history.

A Key to the Heart Laura Simms Chocolate Sauce Publishing
Dual language English and Arabic script.
With notes and bibliography that include more sources of Afghan tales.
Requests for permissions should go to Permissions Dept., Chocolate sauce
Publishing Inc., The Storytelling Suite 814 Broadway, NY NY, 10003

Afghan Folktales from Herat : Persian texts in transcription and
translation Youli Ioannesyan  Cambria Press 2009
These 11 stories are translated into English From the Herati dialect were
collected from informants in the city of Herat.
There are extensive notes and a bibliography.

Afghan Village Voices: Stories from a Tribal Community Compiled and edited
by Richard Tapper   I. B. Tauris  2020
From back cover: "The book comprises a collection of remarkable stories.
folktales and conversations and provides unprecedented insight into the
depth and colour of these people's lives.... with memories of strife,
ethnic  feuds, falling in love elopements...the world of spirits,,, "

With glossary, extensive notes, indexes of people, places and subjects.
Norman Perrin
Four Winds Storytellers' Library

When Norman mentions Four Winds Storytellers Library, it's a 6,000 volume collection of folktales from around the world, as a free research resource that has aided storytellers, authors and other researchers since 1990.

That leads me to this photo by Firoz Sidiqy on Unsplash showing a "goodbye" from Afghanistan's youth, especially girls, from earlier in this century.

******************


This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

Friday, August 27, 2021

Rhys - Robin Goodfellow - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Puck (1789) by Joshua Reynolds
Today's story goes back in English folklore to Old English about a character known as Puck or by one of his other names as Robin Goodfellow in our story's title.  There are other name variations as well.  Hob for the shortened Rob or Robert, and also Hobgoblin.  Wikipedia traces the earliest written reference in the Oxford English Dictionary back to 1531.  I first heard about him in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream when Puck is introduced and also called Robin Goodfellow.  At the time I had no idea this mischievous spirit was something an audience in the late 16th and early 17th century would know by both names quite well.

Interest and knowledge of this prankster continued into the next century with the painting by the great English painter, Joshua Reynolds, needing no explanation for its title.  

Even the word "puckish" may be unfamiliar to many today.  Looking up the word's meaning using various dictionaries gives a fine introduction to the character: impish, whimsical, cheeky, devilish, mischievous, teasing, naughty, sly, playful, whimsical, roguish, frolicsome, waggish, sportive, but most often impish.  We are told somebody who is puckish plays tricks on people, is up to a little trouble, and might play practical jokes on you, but they're more silly than mean spirited.  

The Welsh-English writer, Ernest Rhys, calls Robin Goodfellow a "Knave" and at times calls his actions "knavish."  That's so thoroughly British that I always wondered if a knave was a title somebody had at a royal court, rather like the nursery rhyme:

The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts,
    All on a summer's day;
The Knave of Hearts
He stole those tarts,
    And took them clean away.

The poem goes on to have the King of Hearts beat the Knave who then promises to steal no more.

The knavish Robin Goodfellow may deserve a good beating, but we'll have to catch the story to see what happens.  I might give all I've said so far or a briefer version of it to talk about "knave", "knavish", "Puck" and "puckish", all good bits for vocabulary.  I'd also explain the story has a "red-faced clown", but it isn't a circus clown, merely a rather dim-witted man Robin meets.

With that explanation, I'd tell the story, but adapt it for modern listeners.  Rhys has the story in Fairy Gold; A Book of Classic English Fairy Tales.  It's not easily found online, but if you go to Project Gutenberg you can read it in Ada and Eleanor Skinner's The Turquoise Story Book: Stories and Legend of Summer and NatureI am not going to give the original here, but instead my slightly modernized version omitting the "thees" and "thous" and other things not helpful for many of today's listeners.  I will, however, include the drawing by Herbert Cole which opened the story in Fairy Gold as it shows Robin, the "red-faced clown", and a certain horse.

ROBIN GOODFELLOW

Once upon a time, a great while ago, when men did eat and drink less, and were more honest, and knew no knavery, there used to be many harmless sprites called fairies, dancing in fairy rings on green hills with sweet music. Sometimes they were invisible, and sometimes took various shapes. Many mad pranks they would play, such as pinching untidy girls black and blue, and misplacing things in disorderly houses; but lovingly would they treat good girls, giving them silver and other pretty toys, which they would leave for them, sometimes in their shoes, other times in their pockets, sometimes in bright basins and other clean containers.

Now it happened that in those happy days, a baby was born in a house which the fairies liked. This baby was a boy, and the fairies, to show their pleasure, brought many pretty things, coverlets and delicate linen for his cradle; and woodcock and quail for the christening, at which there was so much good cheer that the clerk almost forgot to say the baby's name—Robin Goodfellow.  So much for the birth and christening of little Robin.

When Robin was grown to six years of age, he was so knavish that all the neighbors complained about him; for, no sooner was his mother's back turned, he was in one knavish action or other, so that his mother was forced (to avoid the complaints) to take him with her to market or wherever she went or rode on horseback. But this helped little or nothing, for, if he rode before her, then he would make awful faces at all he met: if he rode behind her, then he would clap his hand on the horse's tail; so that his mother was weary of the many complaints that came about him. Yet she didn't know how to beat him properly for it, because she never saw him do anything deserving blows. The complaints came daily, so his mother promised him a whipping. Robin didn't like that, and to avoid it, he ran away, and left his mother crying for him.

After Robin had traveled a good day's journey from his mother's house he sat down, and, being tired, he fell asleep. No sooner had sleep closed his eye-lids, but he thought he saw many little people dancing about him, and he heard such music Orpheus, a famous Greek fiddler (had he still been alive), compared to one of these would have been a poor musician. As delights usually don't last long, so  these ended sooner than Robin wanted.  Sadly he awoke, and found lying by him a scroll.  On it was written in golden letters:—

"Robin, my only son and heir,

How to live take you no care:

By nature you have cunning shifts,

Which I'll increase with other gifts.

You have the power to change your shape,

To horse, to hog, to dog, to ape,

Transformed thus, by any means

See none you harm but knaves and queens:

But love you those that honest be,

And help them in necessity.

Do this and all the world shall know

The pranks of Robin Goodfellow,

For by that name you called shall be

To age's last posterity;

And if you keep my just command,

One day you shall see Fairy-land!"

Robin, having read this, was very joyful, yet he longed to know whether he had the power or not, and to try it he wished for some meat.  Immediately a fine dish of roast veal was before him. Then he wished for plum-pudding; right away he had it. This he liked well, and, because he was weary, he wished he was a horse: no sooner was his wish ended, but he was changed into as fine a horse as you could see, and leaped as nimbly as if he had been one at least a month. Then he wished himself a black dog, and he was so; then a green tree, and he was so. So from one thing to another, till he was quite sure that he could change himself to anything he liked.

Full of delight at his new powers, Robin Goodfellow set out, eager to put them to the test.

As he was crossing a field, he met a red-faced clown and called him to stop.

"Friend," said he, "what is a clock?"

"A thing," answered the clown, "that shows the time of the day."

"Why, then," said Robin Goodfellow, "be you a clock and tell me what time of the day it is."

"I owe you no service," answered the clown again, "but, because you shall think yourself owing me, know that it is the same time of the day as it was yesterday at this time!"

These shrewd answers upset Robin Goodfellow, so he promised revenge on the clown, which he did in this manner.

Robin Goodfellow turned himself into a bird and followed this fellow, who was going into a field a little way away from that place to catch a horse eating grass. The horse, being wild, jumped over the hedge, and the fellow followed after it, but the horse was too swift for him. Robin was glad, for now was the perfect time to have his revenge.

Robin shaped himself exactly like the horse that the clown followed, and so stood right before him. Then the clown took hold of the horse's mane and got on his back, but he had not ridden far when, with a stumble, Robin hurled his rider over his head, so that the rider almost broke his neck. But then again the horse stood still and let the clown mount him once more.

The clown now started to ride through a pond of water of good-sized depth, which covered the road. No sooner did he ride into the very middle of the pond than Robin Goodfellow turned himself into a fish, and so left him with nothing but the saddle on which he was riding between his legs. Meanwhile the fish swiftly swam to the bank. And then Robin, changed to a naughty boy again, ran away laughing, "Ho, ho, hoh!" leaving the poor clown half drowned and covered with mud.

As Robin went along a green hedge-side he started singing:—

"And can the doctor make sick men well?

And can the gypsy a fortune tell

Without lily, germander, and cockle-shell?

With sweet-brier,

And bon-fire

And strawberry wine,

And columbine."

And when he had sung this, he wondered what he should next turn himself into. Then, as he saw the smoke rise from the chimneys of the next town, he thought to himself it would be great sport to walk the streets with a broom on his shoulder, and cry:

"Chimney sweep."

But when Robin did this, and someone called him, then Robin ran away laughing, "Ho, ho, hoh!"

Next he set about to imitate a beggar on crutches, begging very pitifully; but when a stout shop keeper came out of his shop to give Robin money, again he skipped off nimbly, laughing in his naughty manner.

That same night, he knocked at many men's doors, and when in the dark the servants came out, he blew out their candle and vanished in the dark street, with his "Ho, ho, hoh!"

All these tricks Robin played, day and night.  He had many songs, one of which he sang in his chimney-sweeper's disguise:

"Black I am from head to foot,

And all does come from chimney soot.

Then, maidens, come and cherish him

That makes your chimneys neat and trim."

But it happened that, on the very next night of his playing the chimney-sweep, Robin had a summons from the land where there are no chimneys. For King Oberon, seeing Robin Goodfellow do so many merry tricks, called him out of his bed with these words, saying:—

"Robin, my son, come; quickly rise:

First stretch, then yawn, and rub your eyes;

For you must go with me tonight,

And taste of Fairy-land's delight."

Robin, hearing this, rose and went to him. There were with King Oberon many fairies, all dressed in green. All these, with King Oberon, did welcome Robin Goodfellow into their company. Oberon took Robin by the hand and led him in a fairy dance: their musician had an excellent bag-pipe made of a wren's quill and the skin of a Greenland fly. This pipe was so shrill and so sweet that a Scottish pipe, compared to it, would no more come near it than a Jaw's-harp does to an Irish harp. After they had danced, King Oberon said to Robin:—

"Whene'er you hear the piper blow,

Round and round the fairies go!

And nightly you must with us dance,

In meadows where the moonbeams glance,

And make the circle, hand in hand—

That is the law of Fairy-land!

There you shall see what no man knows;

While sleep the eyes of men does close!"

So marched they, with their piper in front, to the Fairy-land. There King Oberon showed Robin Goodfellow many secrets, which he never showed the rest of the world. And there, in Fairy-land, does Robin Goodfellow live now these many long years.

***

I confess I'm currently in a Shakespearian mood after seeing an outdoor performance of MacBeth recently.  Shakespeare's such fun, especially outdoors, and this has me wishing I could catch again a performance of A Midsummer Night's DreamTaking out the nearly Shakespearian sound of the story, as Rhys wrote it, especially leaves me sighing for the Bard.  Maybe next summer.

In the meantime I hope you enjoyed this medieval "Dennis the Menace" who became a member of Oberon's court.  (Yes, Oberon is a part of A Midsummer Night's Dream, too.)

****************

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!