Monday, July 23, 2012

Grimm: The Rabbit's Bride

I am so glad the Lucy Crane Grimm starts out with such a weird and unfamiliar story - The Rabbit's Bride! With such brilliant illustrations by Walter Crane also (see above and below; I love the animals wearing spectacles so that they can read!). My favorite is the part where the bride, after running away from her rabbit husband, fools him with a doll as her double: Then she made a figure of straw, and dressed it in her own clothes, and gave it a red mouth, and set it to watch the kettle of bran, and then she went home to her mother. Back again came the rabbit, saying, "Get up! get up!" and he went up and hit the straw figure on the head, so that it tumbled down. And the rabbit thought that he had killed his bride, and he went away and was very sad. Given that I am quite OBSESSED with doubles in literature, it seems a good omen to have the first story in the first book for the course feature a double like this.

For what it is worth, in Dan Ashliman's translation, the rabbit realizes that he has been tricked by the double: The hare came once more and said, "Open the door! Open the door!" Then he opened the door himself and struck the doll on the head so that its cap fell off. Then the hare saw that this was not his bride, and he sadly went away.

Ashliman presents the Indian story of The Tiger's Bride, and it has a different kind of "trick" to fool the animal husband - a rather gruesome one! Then the tiger told her to set to work and cook a feast while he went off and invited his friends to come and share it. But the bride when left alone caught a cat and killed it and hung it over the fire, so that its blood dropped slowly into the pan and made a fizzling noise, as if cooking were going on... EEEEK!

I was surprised to find that Ashliman grouped the Grimm story along with the Indian tiger story under the Tale Type of "How the Devil Married Three Sisters." The rabbit is not the most suitable husband... but he does not seem in the diabolic tradition - at least the tiger is carnivorous. :-)

UPDATE: Nice discussion at Google+ about this post: thanks, everybody! :-)


  1. I'm particularly fond of the Crane Illustrations that accompany the stories. He did a marvelous job at depicting the imagery of the stories and the subtle twists that we should be picking out of this reading. I urge everyone to pay close attention to the graphics for some cues on what to use in your writing for the Grimm Study we have just begun to embark upon.


  2. Agreed, J. Boyd! Crane is one of my very favorite illustrators; his Aesop's fables book is brilliant. They have a selection of some of his books over at the International Children's Digital Library. I don't know if you have ever poked around there, but it is a fun place to look for illustrations, and most of the books there are in the public domain so you can snag the pictures and re-use them without worry. Here's a link to their Walter Crane stuff:

  3. Thanks, now I will pay closer attention to the illustrations! I looked at them, admired them, but did not pay enough attention to the details, I'm afraid.

  4. Walter Crane is an amazing illustrator and what I really like is that, unlike some of the other book illustrators at the time who follow their own inspiration, he often works with specific details you can find in the text itself. His Aesop's fable illustrations are some of the best I've ever seen, really adding to the story in such creative ways! :-)

  5. thanks for sharing.



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