I kind of like finding folktales recorded by the Brothers Grimm which are not so well-known. And this one? Is so hilariously German. Really. Choosing your wife-to-be by her cheese cutting skills? Maybe the French can understand. 🙂
Choosing a WifeOnce upon a time there lived a young shepherd who wanted to marry and he knew three sisters. As they all were equal in their beauty he could not decide to choose one of them. So he asked his mother for advice and she told him: “Invite all three of them and serve them cheese and be careful to observe how they cut into the cheese.”
So the youth did but the first one devoured the whole cheese with the rind. The second one hastily cut off the rind but in her hurry she cut it so there was still good cheese on the rind which she threw away. The third one cut off the rind without cutting of too much or too little.
When the shepherd told his mother, she said: “Take the third one as your wife.” And so he did and they lived happily ever after.
Copyright for translation: TaleTellerin
Copyright for image: portrait of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
I am so fascinated by the different forms of beginning and ending a fairy tale in different cultures. For example, in German we begin a folktale with “Es war einmal…” (There once was…) and end it with “…und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind, leben sie noch heute.” (And if they haven’t died, they’re still alive today.).
Translating these highly stylized parts of a folktale is always a challenge, I find. Do you stick to the original but risk that the folktale-y feel might be lost upon the reader who won’t recognize it. Or do you substitute the forms of the language you translate into, in this case the English tradition, thus perhaps taking away from the feel of it. Gah.