Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Orbis Terrarum Short Story Mini Challenge: Finishing Europe

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I've got into a bit of a rut with this so thought I needed to give myself a push and finish Europe so I can get to Africa, I have a lovely looking collection of North African stories sitting ready to be read.

After having been to France, Germany, Poland and Prague I now need to head in the direction of Africa.

First stop Austria:
Country Doctor by Franz Kafka
The local Doctor is called out to an emergency in the middle of a freeing snowy night, going outside he discovers his own horse has died from the cold. He sends out the maid to search for another horse, although no locals will lend a horse the maid brings back a stranger with a horse led carriage. What does the stranger want in return? The maid.
The story then grows strange with the doctor rushing off to the patient and everyone waiting for the diagnosis. I'll let you read it to discover how it ends - you'll find a free online copy if you click the title.

Next stop Italy:
We're taking a different route this time and reading an Italian fairytale, 'Parsley Girl' taken from Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales.

In the middle of the winter a woman has cravings for Parsley, none can be found any where except in the Holy Sisters' Garden. She first went and took a sprig, and then some more or the third visit she took a whole handful, it was then that she was approached by a nun who said:
' "Take all the parsley you want, but when you've had your baby you must call him Parsley-Boy if he's a boy or Parsley-Girl if she's a girl, and when your baby grows up you must give it to us. That is the price of your parsley." '
The mother thought nothing of this until one day the girl was snatched from the garden and taken by the 'nuns' to make a casserole.
The main ingredient of the casserole? Parsley-girl. The nuns were witches in disguise. As with all good fairytales the spritly child finds a way to overcome the witches and become the hero of the tale.

A quick pit-stop in France:
Take from the same fairytale anthology is the French version of 'Little Red Riding Hood.'
The traditional fairytales originally were told by adults for adults, they are bawdy and far more violent than the Disneyfied version that we know today. This version of Little Red follows that story we know till the end when Little Red takes off her clothes and jumps into bed next to the wolf disguised as her gradmother. After all the 'What big .... you have...' lines the Wolf 'threw himself upon Little Red Riding Hood and gobbled her up too.'

The final destination, Spain:
Another fairytale this is one that I found by doing a Google search The Water of Life.
Two brothers and their sisters decide to better their lives by building a palace. After a party to celebrate their beautiful palace a young man tells them the the palace is missing something: the water of life, a beautiful tree and a singing bird and the only way to get these things is to go up the mountain.
The eldest sets off leaving a knife behind which will shine if he is well and be covered in blood if he is not. Half way up the mountain he meets a giant and asks for directions, he is told:
'Many have passed by seeking those treasures, but none have ever come back; and you will never come back either, unless you mark my words. Follow this path, and when you reach the mountain you will find it covered with stones. Do not stop to look at them, but keep on your way. As you go you will hear scoffs and laughs behind you; it will be the stones that mock. Do not heed them; above all, do not turn round. If you do you will become as one of them. Walk straight on till you get to the top, and then take all you wish for.'
The next day the knife is bloody. The next brother decides to go and rescue his brother, but he befalls the same fate. Finally the sister decided to take her chance on the moutain and she is much more successful having followed the giants orders.

This challenge is still open for people to join, if you fancy reading 10 short stories from 10 different coutries come and sign up here

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