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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Thorne-Thomsen - East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Facebook would call this a Status Update, but this week 2 storytelling programs and the start of a workshop series I sometimes lead + 2 rehearsals for the musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood (opening next week!) coupled with the energy drain from my broken wrist in a cast = me feeling definitely say nothing of the way it slows me up!  I used to put this sign behind my nameplate when working as a librarian: Please Lord...Grant Me Patience, BUT HURRY!

That little sign is so ME.

In the meantime I need to adjust plans and today's post is that adjustment.  Not only did the influential storyteller, Gudrun Thorne-Thomsen, make today's story the title of her great littl book, but it's the title of 3 others in my library:

Normally I'd insert the illustrations from those, but only the Nielsen ones are in Public Domain and frankly it's more than I am up to at present.  I do recommend looking up these and even more versions of the story.  Today let's see why this story has caught the imagination of so many illustrators -- check Amazon using both "o'" and "of" for its title and you'll see what I mean.  If you don't look back at the earlier article on today's author/translator, Thorne-Thomsen, know that the story opens with an illustration by Frederick Richardson, whose colorful work appears throughout the book.

Can't you just picture that circle of stone trolls?!  My third book bearing this title doesn't name the translator, in fact the Kay Nielsen book doesn't say if he translated his either, but he was Danish, so it's probable.  What the third book, part of the Macmillan Classics series, offers beyond Tom Vroman's illustrations is an afterword by Clifton Fadiman who notes the way folktales travel, so that you may notice its similarity to other tales -- this one manages to put together several, doesn't it? -- yet the tale has a flavor all its own.  Fadiman points to that white bear and those trolls in talking about the stories collected by Asbjornsen and Moe and their Norwegian flavor.

 Thorne-Thomsen does an excellent job of making the story tellable.  About the only change for today's audiences would be her frequent use of the word "thither",  but then again that may be a bit of flavoring you may enjoy.  It's all rather like seasoning some cooking isn't it?
Here's my closing for days when I have a story in Keeping the Public in Public Domain

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.
  • 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!"
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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