Sentence of the Day: “The Hump,” by Fernan Caballero

Skimming! Whoa, self is skimming!

Story #50, The Hump, is by Fernan Caballero (1796-1877), a Spanish writer who self has never heard of. Her real name was Cecilia Bohl de Faber and she wrote about Andalucia, “although she was not raised there.”

  • They set the dumb serving maid to frying pancakes.

Sentence of the Day: “The Remarkable Rocket”

This is self’s favorite story so far in The Big Book of Classic Fantasy. It’s Story # 27. Kudos, Oscar Wilde!

  • “Indeed, I have always been of the opinion that hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do.”

LOL

“The Remarkable Rocket” by Oscar Wilde

What a relief to encounter Oscar Wilde in this monster of an anthology (The Big Book of Classic Fantasy).

His “The Remarkable Rocket” is Story # 27, and I read a Tolstoy story, “Ivan the Fool,” before getting here, and that story is nothing compared to “The Remarkable Rocket.”

An excerpt:

  • The Prince and Princess were leading the dance. They danced so beautifully that the tall white lilies peeped in at the window and watched them, and the great red poppies nodded their heads and beat time.

Sentence of the Day: Story # 23, The Big Book of Classic Fantasy

The floors of the passageways were decked with poppy-petals, so that the queen’s feet would tread on purple only.

Furnica, or the Queen of the Ants, by Carmen Sylva (1843 – 1916), translated by Gio Carval

The Jules Verne story, Master Zacharius, was extremely silly.

The next story, by Louisa May Alcott, was something cute-sy about fairies and the Frost-King.

Self flew past Stories # 16, 17, 18, and 19.

She liked the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Will-o-the-Wisps Are in Town, but it did not slay.

She didn’t read the Lewis Carroll excerpt from Through the Looking Glass because she already knows that book intimately.

She was on the point of cherry-picking (instead of reaching each story in order) until she got to Furnica, or the Queen of the Ants. She hasn’t finished reading it yet, but it is soooo charming.

Furnica got to be Queen of the Ants because: 1) She is an orphan; 2) She is virtuous; and 3) She is extremely hardworking. The ants just love her. After becoming Queen of the Ants, she takes her job so seriously that she “visited the pupae every evening, to test the softness of their cots.” She is a just Queen, banishing recalcitrant ants and even condemning a few to death, though her heart bleeds as she watches “the merciless stabbings” carried out.

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Twofer: Stories # 13 and # 14, The Big Book of Classic Fantasy

These were the dullest stories ever. How does self know? It took her a full day to read “Feathertop,” and now self is stuck reading “Master Zacharius,” which is about a clockmaker in Geneva.

“Master Zacharius,” by Jules Verne (!!!), is divided into chapters (Oh no!) and the most momentous and scary things happen at night (No, not really) and the dilemma is: should Master Zacharius give his beautiful and virginal daughter Gerande to an ugly, wizened old man? What to do, what to do?

SHUT UP, give her to the old man!

There’s some nonsense about a clock not being allowed to strike midnight because Satan . . .

Whoa! By judicious skimming, self has reached THE END OF THIS STORY!

The next one is by Louisa May Alcott, and even though this one will probably not slay, because it’s about the Frost King, and self doesn’t think fairy tales are Louisa May Alcott’s specialty, it is, mercifully, short.

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Story # 13, The Big Book of Classic Fantasy

Feathertop, A Moralized Legend

by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804 – 1864)

These writers don’t live very long! Looking at Nathaniel Hawthorne’s dates: he died at 60.

It is a great relief to read the opening sentence: “Dickon,” cried Mother Rigby, “a coal for my pipe!”

That is classic, that is beautiful.

The story before this one was very, very long, and self struggled with it for most of the day. She finally had to acknowledge defeat and leave it unfinished.

The “classic” stories she has read so far (an asterisk means the story found favor with her)

  • The Queen’s Son, by Bettina von Arnim
  • Hans-My-Hedgehog, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm *
  • The Story of the Hard Nut, by E. T. A. Hoffmann *
  • Rip Van Winkle, by Washington Irving
  • The Luck of the Bean-Rows, by Charles Nodier *
  • Transformation, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley *
  • The Nest of Nightingales, by Theophile Gautier
  • The Fairytale About a Dead Body, Belonging to No One Knows Whom, by Vladimir Odoevsky
  • The Story of the Goblin Who Stole a Sexton, by Charles Dickens *
  • The Nose, by Nikolai Gogol
  • The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Story of Jeon Unchi, by Anonymous

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Luck of the Bean-Rows, Hurrah!

Story # 5 in The Big Book of Classic Fantasy is by Charles Nodier (1780 – 1844) and it features a main character who is two-and-a-half feet high and is called Luck of the Bean-Rows (love the name!) because his beans grow so fat.

When he is twelve, his parents send him off to town to find a market for his magnificent beans (and also to see the world), and before long he encounters a tiny princess, Pea-Blossom, who lends him one of her hundreds of tiny carriages to ride in.

  • “The springs of this carriage are a trifle lively,” he thought to himself (he was nimble-witted, remember); “it started off on its giddy race before Pea-Blossom could tell me whither I was bound. I don’t see why this journey should not last for ages and ages, for that lovely princess, who is young enough to be something of a madcap, told me how to start the carriage, but had no time to say how I was to stop it . . . It sped from the tropics to the poles and back from the poles to the tropics, across all the parallels and meridians, quite unconcerned by the unhealthy changes of temperature.”

Loving this story. Hopefully it will not end on a cliff-y, like that “Hard Nut” story by E. T. A. Hoffmann.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Nutcrackerkin

Still on Story # 3 in The Big Book of Classic Fantasy: The Story of the Hard Nut, by E. T. A. Hoffman

After 15 years of hard looking, Drosselmeier, the Court Watchmaker finds the hard nut, Krakatuk.

Not only has he found the hard nut, he has found a man who is up to the job of cracking it open, thereby saving Princess Perlipat from permanent ugliness (A mouse sat on her face, never mind it’s a long story). This man is “the gilder’s son . . . a handsome, well-grown lad” who, “besides having his hair beautifully powdered and curled,” is known for his “gallantry” in cracking nuts “for young ladies,” so much so that he has earned the nickname Nutcrackerkin.

This information immediately fills the court watchmaker with joy, because now he can return to court without fearing he will be beheaded by the King. But, just to make sure the young man is up to the task, he decides he needed to reinforce the young man’s underjaw “with a tough piece of wood.” So Drosselmeier equips the young man with “a wooden jaw” and has him practice “cracking the hardest peachstones,” which he does quite easily.

Self can hardly wait to see how Nutcrackerkin does with Krakatuk once he is in the presence of the King! There is no time to waste: the Princess Perlipat’s ugliness has advanced to such a degree that she now has “a woolly beard, which spread over” her mouth and chin.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Who Can Crack This Hard Nut?

Still Story #3 in The Big Book of Classic Fantasy: The Story of the Hard Nut, by E. T. A. Hoffmann

The king sends his watchmaker Drosselmeier to scour the length and breadth of the kingdom for the man who can crack the nut Krakatuk, which the court astrologer maintained was the only way to cure the Princess Perlipat of the misfortune of being ugly. If he fails in this task, the King declares, swinging “his scepter over his crowned head . . . Then you must be beheaded, as I said before.”

So Drosselmeier, accompanied by his friend the court astrologer, goes off on his quest, and in so doing, he keeps his head on his shoulders for a further 15 years (If self were Drosselmeier, she would never return to court, but apparently Drosselmeier doesn’t think that way)

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Story # 3, The Big Book of Classic Fantasy

the King, with eyes flashing with indignation, entered the room of the princess; and, waving his scepter, he cried out, “Christian Elias Drosselmeier, cure the princess, or die!” Drosselmeier began to cry bitterly, but little Princess Perlipat went on cracking her nuts. Then first was the court watchmaker struck with the princess’s extraordinary partiality for nuts, and the circumstance of her having come into the world with teeth. In fact, she had cried incessantly since her metamorphosis, until someone by chance gave her a nut; she immediately cracked it, ate the kernel, and was quiet. From that time, the nurses found nothing so effectual as to bring her nuts.

The Story of the Hard Nut, by E. T. Hoffmann, translated by Major Alex Ewing

The stories self has read so far: about a Princess who has been pregnant seven years; and about a boy half-hedghog and half man, who wounds his wife with his sharp quills because her father, the King, tried to trick him.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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