From Africa, Burma, and Czechoslovakia to Turkey, Vietnam, and Wales here are more than 150 of the world's best-loved folktales from more than forty countries and cultures. These tales of wonder and transformation, of heroes and heroines, of love lost and won, of ogres and trolls, stories both jocular and cautionary and legends of pure enchantment will delight readers and storytellers of all ages.
With black-and-white drawings throughout
Part of the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library
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THE MAN WHO HAD NO STORY
Well, there was a man down here is Barr and Ghaoith a long time ago and his name was Brian Ó Braonacháin. The trade that he had was cutting rods, making baskets of them, and selling them in Glenties and in Dunloe and in Fintown and everywhere he could get them sold.
But one year he was down here and there wasn’t a single rod in the whole of Barr and Ghaoith that he hadn’t cut, made baskets of, sold, and then spent the money.
Those were bad times—the English were in power and they wouldn’t let the Irish earn a single penny in any way. And Brian didn’t know what to do.
But in those days there was a little glen outside of Barr and Ghaoith that they called Alt an Torr and there were remarkably fine rods growing there. But nobody dared cut any rods there, for everyone made out that it was a fairy glen.
But one morning Brian said to his wife that if she made him up a little lunch he would go out and cut the making of a couple of baskets and perhaps no harm would come to him.
The wife got up and made up a lunch for him. He put it in his pocket and he took a hook and a rope under his arm.
He went out to the glen and he wasn’t long in the glen until he had cut two fine bundles of rods.
When he was tying them together so that he could carry them with the rope on his back, a terrible fog started to gather around him. He decided that he would sit down and eat his lunch and perhaps the fog would clear. He sat down and he ate the lunch he had with him and when he had finished eating it was so dark that he could not see his finger in front of him.
He stood up and he got terribly scared. He looked to the east and he looked to the west and he saw a light. Where there is light there must be people, he thought, and he headed for the light. And he tripped and fell the whole time, but in the end he came up to the light. There was a big long house there. The door was open and there was a fine light coming out of the window and the door.
He put his head in the door and an old woman was sitting in the corner and an old man on the other side of the fire. Both of them saluted Brian Ó Braonacháin from Barr an Ghaoith and wished him welcome, and they asked him to come up and sit in at the fire.
Brian came up and he sat in at the fire between the pair of them. They talked for a while. But he had not been sitting there long when the old man asked him to tell a fairy tale.
“That is something that I never did in all my life,” said Brian, “tell a story of any kind. I can’t tell Fenian tales or fairy tales of any kind.”
“Well,” said the woman, said she, “take that bucket and go down to the well below the house and fetch a bucket of water and do something for your keep.”
“I’ll do anything,” said Brian, “except tell a story.”
He took the bucket, went down to the well and filled it with water from the well. He left it standing on the flagstone beside the well, so that the water would run off it, before he brought it in. But a big blast of wind came and he was swept off up into the sky. He was blown east and he was blown west and when he fell to the ground he could see neither the bucket nor the well nor anything at all.
He looked around and he saw a light and he made out that where there was light there be people and he headed for the light. He tripped and fell the whole time, it was so dark. But at last he came to the light. There was a big long house there, far bigger than the first house, two lights in it and a fine light out of the door.
He put his head in the door, and what was it but a wake-house. There was a row of men sitting by the back wall of the house and a row of men sitting by the front wall of the house and up at the fire there was a girl with curly black hair sitting on a chair. She saluted and welcomed Brian Ó Braonacháin from Barr an Ghaoith and she asked him to come up and sit beside her on the chair.
Brian came up and he sat beside her on the chair and very shy he was, too. But he had not been sitting long when a big man who was in the company stood up.
“It is a very lonely wake we are having here tonight,” said he, “a couple of us must go to get a fiddler, so that we can start dancing.”
“Oh,” said the girl with the curly black hair, “you don’t need to go for any fiddler tonight,” said she, “you have the best fiddler in Ireland among you here tonight,” said she,” Brian Ó Braonacháin from Barr an Ghaoith.”
“Oh, that is something I never did in my life,” said Brian, “play a tune on a fiddle, and there is no music or singing or fiddling of any kind in my head.”
“Oh,” said she, “don’t make me a liar, you are the very man who can fiddle.”
Before Brian knew he had the bow and fiddle in his hand and he played away and they danced away, and they all said that they had never heard any fiddler playing a tune on a fiddle better than Brian Ó Braonacháin from Barr an Ghaoith.
The big man who was in the company stood up and said that the dancing must stop now, “A couple of us must go for the priest, so that we can say Mass,” said he, “for this corpse must go out of here before daybreak.”
“Oh,” said the girl with the curly dark hair, “there is no need to go for any priest tonight, the best priest tonight, the best priest in Ireland is sitting here beside me on the chair, Brian Ó Braonacháin from Barr an Ghaoith.”
“Oh, I have nothing of a priest’s power or holiness,” said Brian, “and I do not know anything about a priest’s work in any way.”
“Come, come,” said she, “you will do that just as well as you did the rest.”
Before Brian knew he was standing at the altar with two clerks and with the vestments on him.
He started to say Mass, and he gave out the prayers after Mass. And the whole congregation that was listening said they never heard any priest in Ireland giving out prayers better than Brian Ó Braonacháin,
Then the corpse was placed in a coffin outside the door and four men put the coffin on their shoulders. They were three fairly short men and one big tall man and the coffin was terribly shaky.
“One or two of us,” said the big man who was in the company, said he, “must go for a doctor so that we can cut a piece of the legs of that big man to make him level with the other three.”
“Oh,” said the girl with the curly black hair,” you don’t need to go for any doctor tonight, the best doctor in Ireland is here among you tonight, Brian Ó Braonacháin from Barr an Ghaoith.”
“Oh, that is something I never did in my life,” said Brian, “doctoring of any sort. I never got any doctor’s schooling at all.”
“You’ll do that just as well as you did the rest,” said she.
The lances were given to Brian and he cut a piece off the big man’s legs, under his knees, and he stuck the legs back on, and he made him level with the other three men,
Then they put the coffin on their shoulders and they walked gently and carefully west, until they came to the graveyard. There was a big stone wall around the graveyard, ten feet high, or maybe twelve. And they had to lift one man up on the wall first and they were going up one by one and going down into the graveyard on the other side. And the last man on top of the wall ready to go down into the graveyard was Brian Ó Braonacháin.
But a big gust of wind came and he was swept off up into the sky. He was blown to the east and he was blown to the west. When he fell down to the ground, he could see neither the graveyard nor the coffin nor the funeral. But where did he fall? He fell down on the flagstone beside the well where he has been at the beginning of the night. He looked at the bucket and the water was hardly dry on the outside of it.
He took the bucket and up he went into the house. And the old man and the old woman were sitting where he had left them at nightfall. He left the bucket by the dresser and he came up and sat in between the pair of them again.
“Now, Brian,” said the old man, “can you tell a fairy tale?”
“I can,” said he, “I am the man who has got a story to tell.”
He began to tell the old woman and the old man what he had gone through since nightfall.
“Well, Brian,” said the old man, “wherever you are from now on,” said he, “and whenever anybody asks you tell a story, tell them that story, and you are the man who will have a story to tell.”
The old woman got up and made Brian a good supper. And when he had had his supper she made up a feather bed for him and he went to bed. And he wasn’t in bed long before he fell asleep, for he was tired after all he had gone through since nightfall.
But when he woke in the morning, where was he? He was lying in Alt an Torr outside Barr and Ghaoith with his head on the two bundles of rods. He got up and went home and he never cut a rod from that day to this.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgments / xiii
Introduction / 1
TELLING TALES / 17
The Man Who Had No Story (Ireland) / 20
How Spider Obtained the Sky God’s Stories (Africa) / 24
Helping to Lie (Germany) / 27
The Ash Lad Who Made the Princess Say “You’re a Liar” (Norway) / 28
The Parson and the Sexton (Norway) / 29
The Tall Tales (Burma) / 30
Catherine, Sly Country Lass (Italy) / 33
The Wise Little Girl (Russia) / 38
Clever Answers (Russia) / 41
A Dispute in Sign Language (Israel) / 42
Leopard, Goat, and Yam (Africa) / 44
An Endless Story (Japan) / 45
THE VERY YOUNG AND THE VERY OLD / 47
Glooscap and the Baby (American Indian) / 49
The Brewery of Eggshells (Ireland) / 50
Father of Eighteen Elves (Iceland) / 53
The Fly (Vietnam) / 55
The Two Pickpockets (England) / 58
The Seventh Father of the House (Norway) / 59
The King’s Favorite (China) / 61
Wagging My Tail in the Mud (China) / 61
When One Man Has Two Wives (Syria) / 62
The Old Man and His Grandson (Germany) / 62
Half a Blanket (Ireland) / 63
TRUE LOVES AND FALSE / 65
How Men and Women Got Together (American Indian) / 68
The Little Old Woman with Five Cows (Siberia) / 72
The Prayer That Was Answered (Tibet) / 79
The Merchant’s Daughter and the Slanderer (Russia) / 82
What Happened to Hadji (Turkey) / 85
Mr. Fox (England) / 87
The Waiting Maid’s Parrot (China) / 90
The White Cat (France) / 95
Sedna (Eskimo) / 105
Urashima the Fisherman (Japan) / 107
The Sprit of the Can (Wales) / 110
The Toad-Bridegroom (Korea) / 112
Taken (Ireland) / 115
The Girl at the Shieling (Iceland) / 117
Deer Hunter and White Corn Maiden (American Indian) / 121
TRICKSTERS, ROGUES, AND CHEATS / 125
Tyll Ulenspiegel’s Merry Prank (Germany) / 128
The Hodja and the Cauldron (Turkey) / 129
Being Greedy Chokes Anansi (Jamaica) / 130
Quevedo and the King (Mexico) / 131
Why the Hare Runs Away (Africa) / 132
Coyote Fights a Lump of Pitch (American Indian) / 134
Crack and Crook (Italy) / 136
The Master Thief (Germany) / 138
Peik (Norway) / 144
The Monkey and the Crocodile (India) / 151
The Race Between Toad and Donkey (Jamaica) / 152
The King’s Son Goes Bear Hunting (Finland) / 155
John Brodison and the Policeman (Ireland) / 156
The Rabbi and the Inquisitor (Jewish) / 157
The Ugly Son (Japan) / 158
Dividing the Goose (Russia) / 160
The Men Who Wouldn’t Stay Dead (France) / 161
The Story of Campriano (Italy) / 163
THE FOOL: NUMBSKULLS AND NOODLEHEADS / 167
The Three Sillies (England) / 170
Nasr-ed-Din Hodja in the Pulpit (Turkey) / 173
Lazy Jack (England) / 174
Chelm Justice (Jewish) / 176
Those Stubborn Souls, the Biellese (Italy) / 176
The Drovers Who Lost Their Feet (Mexico) / 177
The Old Man and Woman Who Switched Jobs (Sweden) / 178
The Two Old Women’s Bet (United States) / 181
A Stroke of Luck (Hungary) / 183
The Sausage (Sweden) / 185
Nail Soup (Sweden) / 187
Old Dry Frye (United States) / 191
“Bye-bye” (Haiti) / 194
The Barn is Burning (Afro-American) / 195
HEROES: LIKELY AND UNLIKELY / 199
The Birth of Finn MacCumhail (Ireland) / 202
Li Chi Slays the Serpent (China) / 210
The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs (Germany) / 212
The Longwitton Dragon (England) / 218
The Orphan Boy and the Elk Dog (American Indian) / 220
Molly Whuppie (England) / 228
The Beginning of the Narran Lake (Australian Aboriginal) / 231
The Flying Head (American Indian) / 233
The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was (Germany) / 235
WONDER TALES, TALL TALES, AND BRAG / 243
Talk (Africa) / 246
The King of Ireland’s Son (Ireland) / 248
The Goose Girl (Germany) / 254
The Princess on the Glass Hill (Norway) / 260
The Promises of the Three Sisters (Egypt) / 268
The Magic Mirror of Rabbi Adam (Jewish) / 276
The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle (England) / 283
The Magic Pear Tree (China) / 286
Faithful John (Germany) / 287
Four Hound-Dog Stories (Ireland and United States) / 294
SHAPE SHIFTERS / 297
The Doctor and His Pupil (France) / 300
The Swan-Maiden (Sweden) / 303
Sister Alionushka, Brother Ivanushka (Russia) / 305
The Blacksmith’s Wife of Yarrowfoot (Scotland) / 308
The Seal’s Skin (Ireland) / 310
The Wounded Seal (Scotland) / 311
The Cat-Woman (France) / 313
The Serpent-Woman (Spain) / 315
The Snake’s Lover (Peru) / 323
NOT QUITE HUMAN / 329
The Well-Baked Man (American Indian) / 331
The Finn Messenger (Norway) / 333
Vasilisa the Beautiful (Russia) / 335
Bridget and the Lurikeen (Ireland) / 342
The Two Hunchbacks (Italy) / 343
Then the Merman Laughed (Iceland) / 346
Peregrin and the Mermaid (Wales) / 347
The Ash Lad Who Had an Eating Match with the Troll (Norway) / 348
How Mosquitoes Came to Be (American Indian) / 350
The Departure of the Giants (Africa) / 352
FOOLING THE DEVIL / 355
The Peasant and the Devil (Germany) / 358
Wicked John and the Devil (United States) / 359
The Bad Wife (Russia) / 367
Katcha and the Devil (Czechoslovakia) / 369
The Lawyer and the Devil (Ireland) / 375
Coals on the Devil’s Hearth (Ireland) / 376
The Devil’s Hide (Finland) / 378
How El Bizarrón Fooled the Devil (Cuba) / 386
Bearskin (Germany) / 389
The Lad and the Devil (Norway) / 394
Wiley and the Hairy Man (United States) / 395
THE GETTING OF WISDOM / 401
Truth and Falsehood (Greece) / 403
Getting Common Sense (Jamaica) / 405
Rich Man, Poor Man (Africa) / 406
The Lost Horse (China) / 407
It Could Always Be Worse (Jewish) / 408
His Just Reward (Sweden) / 409
Djuha’s Sleeve (Syria) / 411
King Mátyás and His Scholars (Hungary) / 412
The Missing Axe (China) / 412
What Melody Is the Sweetest? (Afghanistan) / 413
The Peddler of Swaffham (England) / 414
The Beduin’s Gazelle (Saudi Arabia) / 415
The Happy Man’s Shirt (Italy) / 417
GHOSTS AND REVENANTS / 419
Orpheus and Eurydice (Greece) / 422
The Spirit-Wife (American Indian) / 423
One Night in Paradise (Italy) / 428
A Pretty Girl in the Road (United States) / 430
The Dream House (Ireland) / 432
The Peasant and the Fiend (Estonia) / 433
The Tinker and the Ghost (Spain) / 435
Hold Him, Tabb (Afro-American) / 439
Drinking Companions (China) / 440
The Ostler and the Grave Robbers (Scotland) / 444
DEATH AND THE WORLD’S END / 445
The Duration of Life (Germany) / 448
Woman Chooses Death (American Indian) / 449
Jump into My Sack (Italy) / 451
Youth Without Age and Life Without Death (Turkey) / 457
Goha on the Deathbed (Egypt) / 465
Death of a Miser (Russia) / 466
Godfather Death (Germany) / 466
The Hungry Peasant, God, and Death (Mexico) / 469
The Word the Devil Made Up (Afro-American) / 471
A Paddock in Heaven (England) / 472
How a Man Found His Wife in the Land of the Dead (Papua) / 472
The End of the World (American Indian) / 474
Notes / 477
Permissions Acknowledgments / 495
What People are Saying About This
“Most of the great human themes, from story telling itself through love, wisdom, and death are covered in this dazzling collection of tales . . . A delight for all readers.”
“A splendid folklore series”
—The Washington Post
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The title says it all. It is a book made up of lots of tales from all over the world. Divided by theme, it is great for casual reading or just to broaden your knowledge of fairytales.
Created a nest near the back of a cave, away from anyone else.