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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Lang/Caylus - Fairy Gifts - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Sometimes finding one story leads to discovering another story I love even more.  Today's story is a perfect example.  Last week I found several interesting stories about fairies because I wanted something to go with my Quarantine project of a fairy house.  Here's that house now in place.
Andrew Lang produced a rainbow of books under a variety of colors.  This story is found in The Green Fairy Book and at the end is attributed to the Comte de Caylus, but Caylus both wrote original stories and collected French fairy tales and "oriental fantasies."  Britannica gives slightly dubious information about Caylus as the only son of the Marquise de Caylus, but both Wikipedia and Catholic Encyclopedia assert he was the eldest of two sons.  All agree the count went from a youthful military career to world travels exposing him to early archaeology and world cultures which influenced him when back in France for his work in the arts and literature in pre-revolutionary times.  This story isn't found in the two volume English translation of Les Contes Orientaux (Oriental Tales), so it seems to have been his original work.  

That bit of idle curiosity satisfied, I really want to let the story stand on its own.
I didn't want to give the Wikipedia link for the story before the story itself.    Ever since 1915 they have complained about a lack of sources for the story's article.  That article calls it a literary tale, but credits Lang with reworking it.  I know I've never seen it in any other source pre-dating Lang's 1892 edition.  If Lang reworked the story, he gave it folkloric style.

Bet you saw eventually where Sylvia's choice would go.  Whether you sing "You Can't Always Get What You Want" or think "Be careful what you wish for", I find myself thinking about King Solomon's wish for Wisdom.  Even with all his wisdom he still managed to go astray.  Perhaps a "quiet spirit" or at least letting our best self show is the best we can want.

Here's a close-up of mine as shown on Etsy.   Search for "fairy playing flute" to find two Pixies playing flute or a flute-playing gnome on a mushroom.  Beyond that there are flute-playing animals. My fairy told me her name is Alyssa.  I've no idea where that idea originated, so it must be from her.  With my love of the Native American flute, I sought her out and can't reject either her name or the fact it is a more classical flute.

Choose fairies and their gifts with care.

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!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to 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 - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - 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 -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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