|Illustration by Warwick Goble for 'Rumpelstiltskin' from The Fairy Book by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (1913).|
Rumpel-Stilts-kin, more commonly known as Rumplestiltskin, is a fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm first published in Children's and Household Tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen) in 1812 as Rumpelstilzchen. However, research by Sara Graça da Silva and Jamshid J. Tehrani would suggest the tale is far older than that, having roots as far back as 6,000 years ago. They write of Rumplestiltskin and Beauty and the Beast that they were -
"... first written down in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. While some researchers claim that both storylines have antecedents in Greek and Roman mythology, our reconstructions suggest that they originated significantly earlier. Both tales can be securely traced back to the emergence of the major western Indo-European subfamilies as distinct lineages between 2500 and 6000 years ago, and may have even been present in the last common ancestor of Western Indo-European languages."6,000 years ago was 4,000 B.C., about the end of the Neolithic Age and going into the Bronze Age, which coincidentally was when Bede calculated the beginning of the world in De temporum ratione (The Reckoning of Time). It is quite remarkable that these tales do seem to be almost as old as time.
|'Round the fire an indescribably ridiculous|
little man, hoping on one leg and singing'
by Arthur Rackham (1920).
"Merrily the feast I'll make,Thus, the queen is able to tell the little goblin is name, and he is laughed out of the kingdom for his failure.
To-day I'll brew, to-morrow bake;
Merrily I'll dance and sin,
For next day will a stranger bring:
Little does my lady dream
Rumpel-Stilts-kin is my name!"
It's a great little story steeped in Medieval imagery: the spinning wheel like the wheel of fortune, the folk-devil, and a moral message of the dangers of being greedy, boastful, or making false-promises. Yet it has a happy ending, giving some comfort that the young woman who tried to survive being caught between vanity and avarice, does get her happily ever after.
For more information, there's a great article on Pook Press that I highly recommend!
And that was my 25th title for the Deal Me In Challenge. Next week: The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde.
|Illustration of Rumpelstiltskin by Kay Nielsen for|
Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm (1925).