I am a few minutes away from publishing a post on La Fontaine., but …
The events of the week kept away from you. A vein broke near my eyes. My eyes were filled with blood and one eye went from deep green to blue, but I’ve recovered. It didn’t hurt and I am recovering.
The Project: no Language Laws
I will first get in touch with Champlain-Lennoxville, the Advantage programme. Reforms are necessary, and French-speaking students have been enrolling in English-language Cégeps for several decades. It’s their English-language immersion finishing schools and there is no tuition fee. I must then talk to Justin Trudeau and François Legault. Attending a Cégep after grade eleven does not threaten a student’s knowledge of French.
The more difficult step is convincing French-speaking students to have anglophones as their classmates. A few changes are needed. As a university teacher of second-language acquisition, four years at McMaster University, and I wrote articles on the subject, I have the necessary background. I have also edited books on this subject.
Interestingly, people have realized that Internet Archives, Gutenberg, Wikisource have published a wealth of free books including audio texts. I have used these to write articles of every play Molière wrote. Henri van Laun is a scholar.
I am returning to the fables of La Fontaine, but I will be busy working on a better relationship between English-speaking and French-speaking Quebecers. There has to be trust that the French will not lose their language. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham took place a long time ago. We are now a free people, and our official languages are French and English.
The conversation begins. Cégeps are the starting point. French-speaking students themselves have used Cégeps. We keep this alive.
Wherever I phone, I hear: English will follow.
Here is an introduction to Lori Weber. She speaks four languages and is an author.
Missionaries to New France had to adapt Christianity so their converts could understand it. Amerindian languages were simple languages that did not provide “black robes” with ways of expressing abstract notions. To befriend Amerindians they, therefore, chose to sing with their congregation.
The best-known piece composed for Amerindians is the Huron carol entitled: “Jesous Ahatonhia.” It was composed in 1643 for the Hurons at Ste Marie, in all likelihood, by Jean de Brébeuf, a Jesuit missionary, who was tortured to death by Iroquois Amerindians and has become a mythic figure. The Huron Noël belongs to Canada‘s répertoire of Christmas carols. The melody was borrowed from a French song entitled: Une jeune pucelle (A Young Maiden).
Jesous was translated into French by Paul Picard, an Amerindian notary at Quebec City and, into English, by Jesse Edgar Middleton. It was then adapted for voice and piano by Healey Willan (ca 1927), an Anglo-Canadian organist and composer (12 October 1880 in Balham, London – 16 February 1968, in Toronto, Ontario).
I have written down two stanzas of the Huron carol and two stanzas of its French translation, and a full English translation. To access the French lyrics, please click on Jesous Ahatonhia.
Chrétiens, prenez courage, / Jésus Sauveur est né! / Du malin les ouvrages / À jamais sont ruinés. / Quand il chante merveille, / À ces troublants appas / Ne prêtez plus l’oreille: / Jésus est né: In excelsis gloria!
Oyez cette nouvelle, /Dont un ange est porteur! /Oyez! âmes fidèles, / Et dilatez vos cœurs. / La Vierge dans l’étable / Entoure de ses bras / L’Enfant-Dieu adorable. / Jésus est né: In excelsis gloria!
Within a lodge of broken bark the tender babe was found; A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round But as the hunter braves drew nigh the angel song rang loud and high Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.
The earliest moon of wintertime is not so round and fair As was the ring of glory on the helpless infant there. The chiefs from far before him knelt with gifts of fox and beaver pelt. Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.
O children of the forest free, O seed of Manitou The holy Child of earth and heaven is born today for you. Come kneel before the radiant boy who brings you beauty peace and joy. Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.
I attempted to copy this post, written six years ago, but couldn’t. I rewrote it.
Le Combat de la Danaé (The Battle of Quebec) (arr. S. Bergeron)
interprète: Meredith Hall
album: La Traverse miraculeuse / Le Combat de Québec 
La Nef [The Nave]: Sylvain Bergeron, Lisa Ornstein, David Greenberg, Patrick Graham, Amanda Keesmat, Pierre-Yves Martel, Seàn Dagher
Old French Songs (cont’d)
Come, all you old men all, let this delight you; (a) Come, all you young men, let not affright you;
Nor let your courage fail when comes the trial.
Nor do not be afraid at the first denial.
C’est le 27 de mars, sans attendre plus tard / qu’est le départ
Bart, ce grand guerrier, / nous a tous commandé.
Nous sommes partis de la France, / confiants dans la Providence,
priant Dieu de nous secourir / dans le danger de périr.
Le premier jour partant / nous aperçûmes sous vent / un bâtiment
Trois autres au vent de nous / qui poussaient droit sur nous.
Nous leur avons fait reconnaître / que nous en serions les maîtres,
nous tenant tous les deux d’accord, / nous avons viré de bord. La Danaé!
Brave Wolfe drew up his men in a line so pretty. (b) On thePlains of Abraham,before the city. The French came marching down, arrayed to meet them. In double numbers round, resolved to beat them.
L’Anglais tout d’un courroux [wrath]/ arrive au bord de nous et tout d’un coup tire un coup de canon / sur notre pavillon;
C’est son petit mât de misaine [small mast] / qui est tombé à la traîne[dragging] et son grand mât d’artimon [large mast] / qui est tombé sur le pont.
Bart, voyant cela / au milieu du combat / et du fracas en rejoignant les mains / prit le Ciel à témoin.
Bart dit à son équipage: / « allons mes enfants courage,
faisons voir à ces Anglais / la valeur de nous, Français. » La Danaé!
The drums did loudly beat, with colors flying (c) The purple gore did stream and men lay dying Then shot from off his horse fell that brave hero We’ll long lament his loss that day in sorrow
Le feu de tous côtés / par trois vaisseaux armés / sans relâcher[relentlessly]
a mis hors de combat [taken out of combat] / ce valeureux soldat.
Ce fut su’l’gaillard d’arrière [at the back of the ship] / qu’il tomba par en arrière
et par un boulet [bullet] de canon, / il tomba mort sur le pont.
Grand Dieu quelle misère / de voir la Danaé / tout démantée, [dismantled]
ses voiles [sails] et ses haubans [ropes]/ ne battre plus au vent!
Hélas grand Dieu quelle misère / de voir devant à l’arrière cent cinquante hommes étendus / et les autres n’en pouvant plus La Danaé!
He raised up his head where the guns did rattle, (d) And to his aide he said, “How goes the battle?” “Quebec is all our own, they can’t prevent it” He said without a groan, “I die contented.”
Vous autres Français, Flamands / qui voyez nos tourments / qui sont si grands,
apprenez la misère / que nous avons souffert
pour sauver l’honneur de la France; / vous Anglais pleins d’impudence,
à moins de nous laisser aller, / nous vous aurons prisonniers! La Danaé!
Come, all you old men all, let this delight you; (a)
Come, all you young men, let not affright you;
Nor let your courage fail when comes the trial.
Nor do not be afraid at the first denial.
We left on 27th March, without further delay.
Bart, that great warrior, was in command.
We left France trusting Providence and praying to God
to rescue us, should our lives be endangered.
On the first day, we saw beneath the wind a bâtiment (a ship)
and three other ships, headed in our direction.
Both of us agreed, and we decided to turn around.
Brave Wolfe drew up his men in a line so pretty. (b)
On the Plains of Abraham,before the city.
The French came marching down, arrayed to meet them.
In double numbers round, resolved to beat them.
The angry English sailed up to the side of our ship.
All of a sudden they shot at us.
Our ship’s mizzen mast fell dangling
and its larger mast tumbled down to the deck.
Bart seeing this, still fighting as everything was crashing down,
joined his hands, taking God as his witness
and told his crew: Let’s go boys,
let us show the English a Frenchman’s worth. La Danaé!
The drums did loudly beat, with colors flying (c)
The purple gore did stream and men lay dying
Then shot from off his horse fell that brave hero
We’ll long lament his loss that day in sorrow.
Shots were fired everywhere and relentlessly,
taking out of combat this valiant soldier.
He fell backward at the back of the ship,
hit by a bullet. He fell dead on the deck.
It was awful to see the remains of our ship,
its sails and ropes [haubans] blowing in the wind,
and, at the back, a hundred and fifty men lying down.
The others were exhausted. La Danaé!
He raised up his head where the guns did rattle, (d)
And to his aide, he said, “How goes the battle?”
“Quebec is all our own, they can’t prevent it”
He said without a groan, “I die contented.”
You, the French and the Flemish, who see our torment, that are so great,
Learn the hardship we have suffered
to save France’s honour. And you impudent Englishmen
unless you let us go, you will be prisoners. La Danaé!
Nous vous aurons prisonniers means: we will have you as prisoners. The context would suggest that the French would be the prisoners of the English. This sentence is ambiguous.
In both French and English, we find rhymes. Some verses are shortened by singing rapidly. This is a difficult folksong. The length of the lines varies and it could be that French stanzas consist of eight lines. This would give us a total of four long (eight lines) stanzas in French ending with the word Danaé, and four short (4 lines) English
In this folksong, one can hear the braggart soldier. Such language may have stimulated sailors. On the one hand, it is as though we were hearing boys playing, but we are not hearing boys, but frightened sailors who may die. It’s not a game.
Ironically, if we listened to the English, we would hear them call the sailors of New France “impudent.” We find fault with the enemy we kill.
Trickster tales are the most popular Amerindian tales, but we are looking at a wider selection. For instance, James Mooneygives anaccount of the plight of Amerindians in the United States. Between 1830 and 1838, Amerindians had to leave their hunting grounds one-third of the Mississippi and settle west of the Mississippi, in geographical areas often, if not always, chosen by the government. Good land was reserved for the white.
I doubt American officials could have removed Amerindians west of the Mississippi had it not been for the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Financially, Louisiana was purchased at a low-cost to the United States’ government, yet at too high a cost to Amerindians living in the Southeast of the United States.
I have suggested that deported Acadians may have told their stories to black slaves in Georgia US. They could not leave those boats that sailed down Britain’s Thirteen Colonies. It is an honest theory, but one-third of the current contiguous United States belonged to France and French-Canadian voyageurs grew to include African-Americans and Amerindians. George Bonga, who was of American African and Objiwe descent, was a voyageur and a fur trader. He was educated in Montreal. In other words, stories could circulate quite easily. (See David Vermette, RELATED ARTICLES.)
Stith Thompson (of the Aarne-Thompson-Üther classification index) has provided insightful information regarding the manner in which North-American folklore was collected. He writes that:
“[s]ome of the Jesuit Fathers in Canada, however, interested themselves greatly in listening to such stories. They were, of course, much concerned to learn exactly what kinds of error they must combat in their attempt to convert these simple folk. But their curiosity went far beyond this immediate need, and they recorded a number of stories merely because they were interesting.”
With the activities of the Jesuit Fathers, the collecting of American Indian began.”
During their forty-one year mission in New France, from 1632 to 1673, Jesuit missionaries sent their Relations to their superiors in France. The Jesuit Relations were a yearly and detailed report of the activities of missionaries and the daily life of the people of New France. Although converting Amerindians was the main role of Jesuit missionaries, they incorporated in their Relations stories told by Amerindians. The Relations may be read online, but the text may not be complete.
In fact, we could compare the work of the Jesuits with the Brothers Grimm travels in German-language lands, collecting a past for German-speaking Europeans. It was not long before composer Richard Wagner followed in their tracks providing a nascent Germany with operas that told its epic past. Der Ring des Nibelungenis an example. But the Jesuits also transferred an oral tradition into a learned (written) tradition.
The “Noble Savage”
Stith Thompson looks upon the Jesuits as folklorists. They recorded the “folklore” of Amerindians. However, we can also associate the Jesuit Relations with the growth of the notion of the Noble Savage. We have already linked this concept with John Dryden‘s heroic play The Conquest of Granada (1672) and to the Baron de Lahontan‘sAdario. (See RELATED ARTICLES.)
It was difficult for certain Jesuits not to see in Amerindians a form of lay virtue, virtue not associated with a religion.
Stith Thompson writes that “[b]y far the best known of all American Indian creation myths is that made famous by Longfellow’s Hiawatha.” Hiawatha was a historical Iroquois” whose name was Manabozho. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft who wrote a six-volume study of American Indians in the 1850s (see Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Wikipedia), was an inspiration as well as a source to Longfellow (see Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Wikipedia). Longfellow’s sources were Ojibwe Chief Kahge-ga-gah-bowh, Black Hawk a Sauk leader and other Sauk and Fox Indians.
It has been difficult for me write this past week. My computer is not working normally. Letters jump around and so do paragraphs. I may have to schedule a very early Christmas.
However, all is not lost. Anansi, the folktale figure brought to the Americas by black slaves is not featured at the top of this post but that is my choice. I think it is more appropriate to read other Amerindian folk tales first. North America’s aboriginal people are its Amerindians.
This illustration is one of Paul Bransom‘s finest. Notice, in particular, the colour of the leaves. Mr Bransom uses a mauve instead of making the leaves a darker green. As for the composition, we have a diagonal line, a feature of Japanese prints, those that inspired American artist Mary Cassatt (22 May 1844 – 14 June 1926), Vincent van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890), and other artists and collectors. Japonisme swept Europe and was at times combined with Art Nouveau elements. In Paul Bransom’s illustration, the crane intersects the diagonal line horizontally.
As for the fable, it resembles “The Tortoise and the Hare” (Le Lièvre et la Tortue, La Fontaine VI.10). There is a race. The girl will marry the winner, which she expects will be the humming-bird. He seems the faster bird. We learn however that the crane can fly at night.
The ending surprises everyone. The crane is the winner, but the girl says she will not marry. If any character has been fooled, it could be the girl.
The Humming-bird and the Crane
THE Humming-bird and the Crane were both in love with the same pretty girl. She preferred the Humming-bird, who was as pleasing to look at as the Crane was awkward. But the Crane was so persistent that in order to get rid of him she finally told him that he must challenge the other bird to a race and that she would marry the winner. The Humming-bird was so swift—almost like a flash of lightning—and the Crane so slow and heavy, that she felt sure the Humming-bird would win. She did not know that the Crane could fly at night.
They agreed to start at her house and fly around the circle of the world, back to the starting point. And the one who came in first should win the girl. When the word was given, the Humming-bird darted off like an arrow and was out of sight in a moment, leaving his rival to follow heavily behind. He flew all day, and when evening came and he stopped to roost for the night, he was far ahead. But the Crane flew steadily all night long, passing the Humming-bird soon after midnight, and going on until he came to a creek, where he stopped to rest about daybreak. The Humming-bird woke up in the morning and flew on again thinking how easily he would win the race. But when he reached the creek, there he found the Crane, spearing tadpoles with his long bill for breakfast. The Humming-bird was much surprised and wondered how this could have happened; but he flew swiftly by and soon left the Crane once more out of sight.
The Crane finished his breakfast and again started on; and when evening came he still kept on as before. This time it was not yet midnight when he passed the Humming-bird sleeping on a limb; and in the morning he had finished his breakfast before the other came up. The next day he gained a little more; and on the fourth day he was spearing tadpoles for dinner when the Humming-bird passed him. On the fifth and sixth days it was late in the afternoon before the Humming-bird overtook him; and on the seventh morning the Crane was a whole night’s travel ahead. He took his time at breakfast and then fixed himself up spick and span at the creek, arriving at the starting-point about the middle of the morning. When the Humming-bird at last came in, it was afternoon and he had lost the race. But the girl declared that she would never have such an ugly fellow for a husband, so she stayed single.
For the English text of Charles Perrault‘s (12 January 1628 – 16 May 1703) fairy tales, beautifully illustrated by Gustave Doré, click on fairy tales. For information on William Morris, click on Arts and Craftsor on William Morris.But if you click on this Cinderella, you will see that there are many retellings of Cinderella or Cendrillon. The Brothers Grimm’s Cinderella does not feature a fairy godmother, but Cinderella prays on her mother’s tomb and is helped by all the animals, birds in particular. They bring her the beautiful gowns she wears while dancing with the Prince. However, she does lose a shoe because the prince has put pitch on the steps. On the same website, you may also read that the story of Cinderella is almost as old as the world.
A Fairy tale
Cinderella is a fairy tale, so it belongs to a literary genre and genres share, to a lesser or greater extent, the same narrative structure. With fairy tales, the “hero” goes from rags to riches and does so through the timely intervention of a fairy godmother, or a clever cat. Therefore, the protagonist or hero, is at times rather passive, as is, for instance, Puss in Boots‘ disappointed master. As I pointed out in an earlier post, were it not for his cat, the third son of the miller might not have become a prince. It is the cat who takes him from rags to riches.
Traditionally, the protagonist of fairy tales, i.e. the third son or a Cinderella has a fairy godmother who appears at the opportune moment, i.e. kairos, to transform a Cinderella or some other character, into a beautiful person to whom the opportunity is given to be seen at his or her best. This could suggest a lack of resourcefulness in the central character of a fairy tale, a point we will discuss after writing a summary of the plot.
The Plot: rejected girl needs a fairy godmother, but the shoe fits
This is how the rags-to-riches narrative of Cinderella unfolds.
A widower who has one daughter marries a widow who has two daughters. In Charles Perrault’s version of the fairy tale, the widow’s two daughters are less attractive than Cinderella, so Cinderella is reduced to removing the ashes from chimneys and wears soiled clothes.
There is a ball to which the young women of the land are invited. In fact, in some versions of Cinderella (the Brothers Grimm), there are three balls, or three days of festivities, the number three being the most important number in fairy tales.
When Cinderella arrives in the carriage her fairy godmother has magically fashioned out of a pumpkin, just as she has magically fashioned the horses, the coach, and the magnificent gown Cinderella wears, she is stunning, not to mention the beauty and uniqueness of the slippers she wears, translated as glass but perhaps otherwise crafted: “vair,” a material, is pronounced the same way as “verre,” glass. This matter is one scholars have studied without reaching a consensus.
During the last ball, Cinderella is so enjoying herself that she forgets that midnight is approaching and that, at midnight, she will return to her station as the girl who cleans the ashes out of chimneys. She is running away so fast that she loses one of the slippers or shoes.
So Cinderella may be Cinderella again, but the prince has picked up the shoe and wants all the young women of the land to try it on. Whom will it fit? In Perrault’s version, when her sisters try on the shoe, Cinderella is her shabby self, but the prince has noticed her and he suspects beauty behind deceptive appearances. Cinderella is therefore asked to try on the shoe and the shoe fits. Cinderella is once again transformed into the beautiful young woman she was at the balls and will be the prince’s bride. Matters end the same way in the Brothers Grimm’s Cinderella except that birds blind her two sisters permanently, which is somewhat gruesome.
Origins of “Cinderella”
I will note later that Cinderella is rooted Rhodopis, 700 BCE, in which a slave girl marries the kind of Egypt, but tales often originate in India. However, as we know, the five stories that make up the Pañcatantra, were written in Sanskrit, by Vishnu Sharma and then, in 750 CE, they were translated into Arabic, as Kalīlah wa Dimnah, by Persian scholar Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa’.However there were other translations of the Pañcatantra, and other tales, before it was translated by Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa’. Furthermore, Vishnu Sharma may have taken his content, or subject matter, from an oral tradition. I will therefore be cautious as there may be a more ancient Cinderella, than Rhodopis.
But Perrault did not draw his material directly from an ancient source. Cinderella was part of the tales of Giambattista Basile(c. 1575 – 23 February 1632), the author of the Neapolitan Lo cunto de li cunti overo lo trattenemiento de peccerille, later entitled Il Pentamerone.Giovanni Francesco “Gianfrancesco” Straparola (c. 1480 – c. 1557) also wrote fairy tales, but he did not write a Cinderella.
As stated above, the point that needs examination is the extent to which Cinderella participates in her transformation. The short answer is that she needs help but is not as passive as she might seem. She has gone to her father to ask for his help but her father, who loves his new wife, has refused to intervene on behalf of his daughter, which is not very fatherly. However, had he intervened, he might have made matters more difficult for his daughter. Cinderella’s stepmother has two daughters whose looks could jeopardize their ability to find a spouse and her daughters come first.
Other factors may be at play. For instance, this is a fairy tale, not a comedy. Unlike the characters of comedies, Cinderella does not have a gentleman friend who can help her fight a heavy father, pater familias. Nor does she have clever servants who would assist her and her gentleman friend. That happens in comedies, not in fairy tales. Perrault’s Cinderella truly needs a fairy godmother and she is fortunate that the prince happens to see beauty beneath deceptive appearances. Despite their lovely gowns, the stepmother’s daughters have not been noticed by the prince who can see beauty in an unadorned Cinderella.
So I wonder whether Cinderella can do much for herself other than assist her fairy godmother by fetching a large pumpkin and helping her empty it of its contents so that it can be transformed into a princely carriage. But, by an large, other than fetching the pumpkin and performing little task, Cinderella is very much in need of a fairy godmother, not to say a miracle.
The Perfect Candidate
However, destiny, the fates, have given Cinderella a fairy godmother. But more importantly, destiny has given her beauty and grace. Other than an opportunity to be seen by the prince, an opportunity which a fairy godmother orchestrates, it could be that Cinderella has all that is required of her. Moreover, only she can wear the shoes, which is very much to her advantage. So the long answer may be that she cannot do much for herself, but that she has been so blessed by Lady Fortune that she really does not need to do much for herself. In other words, although she needs and has a fairy godmother who arranges for her to meet the prince, her beauty and grace make her the perfect candidate for victory. Besides, the prince notices her and the shoe fits.
So Cinderella does not rise from her own ashes, but she rises from ashes.