Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ethel Johnston Phelps - The Maid of the North

I came across a mention of The Maid of the North, a book which is a collection of retouched fairy and folktales by author Ethel Johnston Phelps. 

The last chapter retells the basic frame story of Scheherazade and offers Phelps' feminist take on the story.

Some selected clips:

"So Scheherazade began a story.  She told it so skillfully that the Sultan became absorbed in the story in spite of himself.  Then, as the night grew late, she broke off at the most exciting part of the tale.  Yawning, she said, “I am too sleepy to remember what happens next.  But I will think of it tomorrow and finish the tale tomorrow if Your Highness wishes.”"


"Rather than force Scheherazade to change her admirable character, I would suggest another ending.  Freed at this point by the Sultan’s death (for I loyally believe Scheherazade could have produced another thousand tales if necessary), acclaimed by the grateful citizens of Samarkand, she did what any clever storyteller would do:  Using her earlier education provided by the best tutors, she of course wrote down for posterity a more polished version of her one thousand and one tales."


Phelps, Ethel Johnston.  The Maid of the North:  Feminist Folk Tales From Around The World.  New York:  Holt, Rinehart and Winston.  1981.

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