Thursday, 8 November 2018

østenfor sol og vestenfor måne

Public Domain Review introduces us to the Norwegian folk tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon via the sumptuously illustrated version translated and published for English markets in 1914 by artist Danish Kay Rasmus Nielsen (*1886 – †1957).
Classified under the Aarne-Thompson system as “the search for the lost husband,” the story references universal motifs and to a degree informs “Beauty and the Beast.” A poor peasant is approached by the White Bear with a proposition: in exchange for his fair, young daughter, the bear will make the peasant wealthy. The father is persuaded and the daughter is spirited away to an enchanted castle. At night, the bear transforms back into a human to be with the young woman but under cover of darkness, she never catches his unursine visage. The woman grows homesick and the bear will allow her to visit her family, provided that she promises never to speak with her mother alone. Her mother is persistent about addressing her situation one-on-one and eventually corners her and presses her for details.
Without getting much more out of her daughter, the mother proclaims that the White Bear must really be a gruesome troll and gives her daughter three candles to investigate. Curiosity getting the better of her, she lights the candle one even after she returns to the enchanted castle to find the White Bear’s true form is that of a handsome prince. Dripping hot tallow on the sleeping prince accidentally, he bolts upright, bleary-eyed and bemoans the fate that he’s now consigned to: his wicked stepmother bargaining that the prince could not sustain the love, trust of another for a whole year and keep his true appearance from them. Now instead of being free from the curse, the prince must now journey to the stepmother’s castle, east of the Sun and west of the Moon where he is to be wed to his step-sister a troll princess. Read the rest of the story (which ends happily ever after) and learn more about the illustrator—who contributed to Fantasia (1940) and posthumously to The Little Mermaid (1989)—at Public Domain Review at the link up top.