#FairytaleTuesday: Little Brother and Little Sister

[CW: child abuse, violence against women]

Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index type 450: Little Brother and Little Sister

This is a relatively old tale which was first seen in print in Giambattista Basile’s Pentamarone in the mid-17th century. It can be seen in various forms all over Europe and was told to the Grimm brothers by Marie Hassenpflug. A shortened version was included in the first edition of their tales but the story was later expanded for subsequent editions. This one contains obvious similarities to tale type 451: The Nurse Looking for Her Brothers, which we touched on in #FairytaleTuesday: The Twelve Brothers.

There tends to be some conflating of this story with Hansel and Gretel but they are two very different stories and two different tale types. We’ll get to Hansel and Gretel in a few weeks. Until then, enjoy! This one isn’t nearly as bad as some of the others have been.

The little sister wept and wept. However, the witch was angry that she hadn’t been able to lure the little sister to drink the water as well. After the girl wept for three days, she stood up, gathered some bulrushes, and wove them into a soft rope. Then she attached it to the little fawn and led him with her. She looked for a cave, and when she found one, she carried moss and foliage inside and made a soft bed for him. The next morning she went out with the fawn to a place with tender grass, and there she gathered the most beautiful grass, which he ate out of her hand. The fawn was delighted and romped about on the hills. In the evening when the little sister was tired, she laid her head on the back of the fawn. It was her pillow, and this is how she fell asleep. If only her brother could have retained his human form, it would have been a wonderful life.

Viktor Vasnetsov, 1881.
Arthur Rackham, 1917
Kay Nielsen, 1925

Work Cited:
Grimm, Jacob; Grimm, Wilhelm. The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition. Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

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