Italian popular tales

Today’s tale, “Zelinda and the Monster,” comes from Italy and was retold in Italian Popular Tales by Thomas Frederick Crane, published 1885. I was kind of surprised that I actually found a “Z” fairy tale. It’s a variation of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Zelinda is the youngest daughter of a poor man. I like when fairy tale characters have actual names, rather than being referred to as the princess or the youngest. Zelinda is of course lovely and kind and her two older sisters were jealous of her, but of course she is her father’s favorite. The father has to go to the market in a neighboring town and offers to bring back gifts for his daughters. He easily purchases a dress for one and a shawl for the other, but can’t find the rose Zelinda requested.

On the way home, the father passes a garden with a partially open gate. He quietly enters and sees a gorgeous rosebush, but there is no one around whom he can pay for on of the roses, so he picks a rose, just like the father in de Beaumont’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Immediately, a monster appears and states the man must die. The father begs and pleads and finally the monster agrees to allow him to leave as long as he brings back the girl who asked for the rose, and she will die instead.

The man returns home and tells his daughters all that happened. Zelinda, good girl that she is, of course offers to go the garden. Father and daughter returned to the garden and found the palace lit up. They enter and statues show them to a lavish dinner and then up to two bedrooms where they spend the night. The next morning, they find the monster who sends the father away.

When the monster and Zelinda are alone, the monster becomes quite kind. He “began to caress her, and make loving speeches to her.” A little creepy if you ask me, but apparently not to her. He asks her daily if she will marry him and she always replies, “I like you, sir, but I will never be your wife.” The monster tells her that he has a marvelous secret, but can’t tell her until after they are married. I’m sure if she had known she was in a fairy tale, she could have guessed the secret, but she didn’t know so she wasn’t swayed. After all, he was still ugly and she did not want to marry a monster.

Finally one day he calls her and tells her that her father is on his deathbed and that he will die if she doesn’t agree to be his wife. She promises to marry him, desperate to save her father. “Scarcely had Zelinda uttered these words when suddenly the monster was transformed into a very handsome youth. Zelinda was astounded by this unexpected change, and the young man took her by the hand, and said, ‘Know, dear Zelinda, that I am the son of the King of the Oranges. An old witch, touching me, changed me into the terrible monster I was, and condemned me to be hidden in this rosebush until a beautiful girl consented to become my wife.'”

And that’s where the story ends. I’m going to have to assume that the father lives, and Zelinda and the prince marry and live happily ever after, even though I feel like she was tricked. She didn’t eventually fall in love with him because he was so good and loving, she was more or less forced into it. I was a little curious about the “King of the Oranges,” so I did a very quick bit of research. Apparently there is an area in southern France that was the Principality of Orange. I don’t know if that is what the story is referring to, but it makes more sense to me than being the king of a fruit.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.

This is my Z post in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Can’t wait to do it again next year!


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