Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/447

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Mr. Newell and Mr. Jacobs.

Mr. Newell has no doubt upon the subject: "Archaic additions", says he, "are always made by savage races to tales which they have received from civilised peoples." Whence we may conclude that the "unnatural" incidents I have just cited are additions made by the "savage" folk of Central Europe to the tale of the "civilised" thirteenth or fourteenth century minstrel. Nay, we can determine the date of this "admixture" yet more closely; for, as I have shown, Mr. Newell's view postulates the oral transmission of the proto-Catskin (the earliest form of the whole group, according to him) during a period of some 200 years. And during this period the admixture cannot have taken place, for the tale as we find it in Bonaventure and Straparola is singularly free from "archaic" incidents. Nor will it be denied that the "fairy godmother" of Perrault is less archaic than the mother transformed after death into an animal of countless modern versions. Ergo, in Perrault's time the full archaisation of the tale had not taken place, and this must be ascribed to the West European savages of the last two centuries.

I had almost added the Euclidean "which is absurd". Yet the conclusion flows logically from Mr. Newell's premises. For him Cinderella starts with a Catskin story of the thirteenth or fourteenth century; for him archaism is no test of age, savage races receiving their tales from civilised peoples and spicing them with archaic traits; for him Cinderella, as a whole, is a purely European creation, the few non-European variants being due to quite recent transmission. What explanation remains, then, save that the "unnatural" incidents have been foisted in during the century of reason and enlightenment which lies between Perrault and the Grimms?

Mr. Jacobs has thought the matter out more warily. He refuses assent to Mr. Newell's postulate of the priority of Catskin over all other forms of the Cinderella, justly observing that the appearance of Catskin in Straparola 100 years earlier than the first recorded true Cinderella in