Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Look at Historical Versions of Cinderella



My library was recently given a great collection of rare books which included a little book:

Cendrillon; ou, La petite pantoufle de verre. 12 gravures. Leipzig: Librairie de Baumgaertner, ca. 1835. [1] l., [12] p., 12 col. pls., 10 x 14 cm. The plates are hand colored. Text in French; footnotes on meaning of words and phrases in German. Blank peach boards.

I mentioned on Facebook that this version of Cinderella was very interesting in that it had full sisters, not stepsisters, no mention of a stepmother, and the prince had a worried mother. Various people asked me for a translation of the text. I provide here a transcription of the original text and below that my translation.

Un gentilhomme avait trois filles; deux d’entre elles étaient hautaines, petites-maîtresses, d’une caractère dur, laides, et gâtées par leur mère: elles se nommaient Javotte et Marton. L’autre, nuit et jour en butte à leur mauvais traitement, n’ètait aimée de personne, quoique jolie et d’un bon coeur; elle était chargée des occupations les plus viles, et devait obéir aux moindres ordres de ses aînées, qui l’avaient surnommée par mépris Cendrillon.

Il advint qu’un soir le fils du roi donna un bal; nos deux grandes dames y furent engagées. Ce fut avec un profond soupir, et les yeux pleins de larmes, que Cendrillon les vit partir: un tel bonheur ne m’arrivera-t-il donc pas! disait-elle.

Sa marraine entendit ses plaintes: “Sèche tes pleurs, lui dit-elle, je suis fée, et tu vas voir ce que peut ma baguette magique: fais seulement ce que je vais te dire, et tu iras au bal. Va d’abord me chercher une belle citrouille.” Cendrillon alla cueillir la plus belle qu’elle put trouver. “Leve maintenant la souricière. Oh! il y a six souris, nous aurons six beaux chevaux pour atteler à la citrouille, dont nous allons faire un carrosse des plus élégans et des plus beaux.” Et d’un coup de baguette ce qui fut dit fut aussitôt fait.

“Apporte-moi maintenant la ratière,” dit la Fée. Elle trouva dedans trois gros rats, elle prit celui qui était le plus gros, le plus beau, et dont la barbe était la plus épaisse; puis, l’ayant touché, le changea en un gros cocher bien grave, qui avait de superbes moustaches. S’étant fait apporter ensuite six lézards, elle les transforma en laquais à livrée chamarrée, qui montèrent aussitôt derrière le carrosse.

Lorsque le brillant équipage se trouva complet, et devant la porte prêt à partir, le bonne fée agita de nouveau sa baguette, puis toucha sa filleule, aussitôt les vilains habits de Cendrillon furent changés en habits de la plus belle couleur, brodés d’or et de pierreries, plus beaux encore que ceux d’une princesse.

Elle lui fit présent ensuite d’une paire de pantoufles de verre. Ainsi parée, Cendrillon monta dans son carosse; mais, avant de prendre congé d’elle, sa marraine lui dit: “Sur toutes choses, sois de retour avant minuit, car cette heure une fois passée, tes beaux habits, ton équipage, tes domestiques disparaîtront, et tes chevaux redeviendront souris.”

Quelques instans après Cendrillon arrivait au bal, où une foule brillante l’entoura bientôt; chacun admirait au jolie figure, sa tournure élégante et ses habits étincelans. Le jeune prince surtout, qui aurait désiré avoir une fiancée aussi charmante, vint la prier d’asseoir près de lui, et quelques instans après lui demanda la faveur de danser avec elle.

Mais, au milieu de ces plaisirs si nouveaux pour elle, Cendrillon oubliait l’heure… Déjà onze coups avaient sonné à l’horloge du château… Elle écoutait avec inquiétude… Un douzième se fit entendre!… Elle s’enfuit alors avec une telle vitesse, que personne ne put l’atteindre ni la retrouver; car les gardes dirent qu’ils n’avaient vu sortir qu’une jeune fille fort mal vêtue; on trouva seulement une pantoufle de verre la plus jolie du monde, que le prince ramassa bien soigneusement.

Le prince, quelques jours après, tomba malade sans que les médécins, avec tout leur savoir, pussent lui donner aucun soulagement; c’était au coeur qu’il souffrait. Souvent, lorsqu’il était seul, il portait en soupirant la jolie pantoufle à ses lèvres… Pressé par la reine sa mère, qui le chérissait, il lui avoua enfin tout l’amour qu’il ressentait pour la personne qu’il avait vue à son bal.

Peu de jours après un héraut fut chargé d’aller par toute la ville annoncer à son de trompe que l’héritier du trône épouserait la femme dont le pied irait bien juste à la pantoufle, et que toutes celles qui voudraient l’essayer eussent à se rendre le jour suivant dans une salle du château qu’il indiqua.

Le lendemain, jeunes et vieilles, jolies et laides, arrrivèrent en foule au palais: on commença l’essai, mais aucune ne put entrer son pied dans la pantoufle; Javotte et Marton se présentèrent aussi, mais sans être plus heureuses. Cendrillon, qui les regardait, dit en riant: “Que je voie si elle ne m’irait pas.” Ses soeurs se mirent à se moquer d’elle; mais quelle fut leur surprise lorsqu’elles virent qu’elle la chaussait très-juste, leur étonnement fut plus grand encore quand Cendrillon tira de sa poche l’autre pantoufle et qu’elle la mit à son pied.

La marraine, qui savait si bien changer une petite souris en un beau cheval, voulut bien faire encore quelque chose pour sa protégée: elle arriva, et, ayant donné un coup de baguette sur les habits de Cendrillon, chacun reconnut aussitôt la belle étrangère, parée avec encore plus de magnificence que les autres fois. Ses soeurs se jetèrent aussitôt à ses pieds.

Le prince la trouva plus belle que jamais, et, peu de jours après, il l’épousa. Cendrillon, dont la coeur était aussi bon que sa figure était jolie, pardonna à ses soeurs leurs mauvais traitemens, les fit loger au château, et les maria à deux seigneurs de la cour; aussi lui dirent-elles qu’elles voyaient bien que la beauté, jointe au bon coeur, sied bien aux femmes, et que par cela même elle était plus digne que toute autre d’être reine.


My translation:

A gentleman had three daughters; two of them were haughty, pretentiously overdressed, of a hard character, ugly, and spoiled by their mother: they were called Javotte and Marton. The other, night and day subject to their abuse, was not loved by anyone, although pretty and with a good heart; she was burdened with the worst tasks, and had to obey the least orders of her elders, who had disdainfully named her Cendrillon.

It happened that one evening the king’s son gave a ball; our two great ladies were invited to it. It was with a deep sigh, and eyes full of tears, that Cendrillon saw them depart: such happiness will never happen to me! she said to herself.

Her godmother heard her complaints: “Dry your tears, she said, I am a fairy, and you are going to see what my magic wand can do: only do what I am going to tell you, and you will go to the ball. First find me a beautiful pumpkin.” Cendrillon went out to pick the most beautiful one she could find. “Now lift the mousetrap. Ah! There are six mice, we will have six handsome horses to harness to the pumpkin, which we are going to make one of the most elegant and beautiful carriages ever.” And with a wave of the wand, that which had been said was promptly done.

“Now bring me the rat trap,” said the Fairy. She found within it three large rats, she took that which was the largest, handsomest, and whose whiskers were the thickest; then having touched it, changed it into a big, dignified coachman, who had a superb mustache. Having had six lizards brought to her, she changed them into lackeys in much-bedecked livery, who promptly mounted behind the carriage.

When the brilliant carriage and its retinue were complete, and before the door, ready to depart, the good fairy shook her wand anew, then touched her goddaughter, immediately Cendrillon’s ugly clothes were changed into clothes of the most beautiful color, embroidered with gold and jewels, even more beautiful than those of a princess.

She then gave her a pair of glass slippers. Thus bedecked, Cendrillon climbed into her carriage; but, before taking leave of her, her godmother said to her: “Above all things, return before midnight, because once that hour is past, your clothes, your carriage, your servants will disappear, and your horses will become mice again.”

A few instants later, Cendrillon arrived at the ball, where a brilliant crowd quickly surrounded her; each admired her pretty face, her elegant shape, and her sparkling clothes. The young prince especially, who had desired to have such a charming fiancée, came to beg her to sit next to him, and a few moments later asked for the favor of dancing with her.

But, in the middle of these pleasures so new to her, Cendrillon forgot the hour… Already eleven strikes had sounded from the castle’s clock… She listened with inquietude… A twelfth strike made itself heard!… She then fled with such speed, that no one could catch her or find her; for the guards said that they had only seen depart a very badly dressed girl; one only found the most beautiful glass slipper in the world, which the prince very carefully picked up.

A few days later, the prince fell ill, without the doctors, with all their knowledge, being able to give him any relief; it was in his heart that he suffered. Often, when he was alone, he brought the pretty slipper to his lips and sighed… Pressed by the queen his mother, who cherished him, he finally avowed all the love that he felt for the person he had seen at his ball.

A few days later a herald was ordered to go throughout the town announcing with trumpet blasts that the heir to the throne would marry the woman whose foot fit best in the slipper, and that all those who wanted to try it on had to come themselves on the following day to a room in the castle that he indicated.

The next day, young and old, pretty and ugly women, arrived in a crowd at the palace: the attempt began, but none could put their foot in the slipper; Javotte and Marton also presented themselves, but without being more successful. Cendrillon, who was watching them, said laughingly, “I will see if it doesn’t fit me.” Her sisters began to mock her; but whatever their surprise when they saw that the slipper fit her foot just right, their astonishment was even greater when Cendrillon took out of her pocket the other slipper and put it on her foot.

The godmother, who knew so well how to change a little mouse into a handsome horse, wanted to do something more for her protégée: she arrived, and having given a tap of her wand to Cendrillon’s clothes, everyone immediately recognized the beautiful stranger, clothed even more magnificently than the other times. Her sisters threw themselves at her feet.

The prince found her more beautiful than ever, and, a few days later, he married her. Cendrillon, whose heart was as good as her face was beautiful, pardoned her sisters their abuse, let them reside in the castle, and married them to two lords of the court; thus they said of her that they perceived that beauty joined to a good heart, suited women well, and for this alone she was more worthy than anyone else of being a queen.


I found myself very curious about this text so I emailed Andrea Immel, the curator of the fabulous Cotsen Children's Library at Princeton University, one of the two other American libraries that holds a copy of this text, hoping that she could answer some questions for me. My library's copy has no date so I wondered why the Cotsen's cataloguers gave the date 1835. I also had been checking on the Bibliothèque Nationale’s Gallica digital library webpage and Google Books to see if other French versions had this variant of the story and the very beautiful, hand colored illustrations that showed a tiny fairy godmother floating on a cloud. None of the illustrations and texts I found seemed to match. Andrea informed me to my surprise that:

"Actually, Cotsen has two different editions of this: the one whose record you [gave me] and the other with the imprint 'Paris: Audot fils; Rue Paon, 8, Ecole de Medecine, 1836' BUT with the imprint of Librarie de Baumgaertner, Leipzig on the front wrapper. The text is the same in both (French with notes in German), although printed on different paper stocks. The Audot edition is rather badly foxed. The plates are the same as well."

 

"The book is a translation of the Cinderella, or the little glass slipper first published by John Harris in the Cabinet of Amusement and Instruction around 1827 (Moon, Harris 619) [Image from the Lilly Library website. A later edition of the text is available at Archives.org]. The Baumgaertner edition has reformatted the Harris original, which is a vertical format. The plates have been copied from the Harris set and reformatted also. A facsimile was published of it in the UK quite a while ago--I don't think the Opies included it in A Nursery Companion, but you might double check. The Harris Cinderella was in print for quite a while and the illustrations copied by other British publishers well into the 19th century. The tip-off is the little fairy godmother."

"The publication date of the Baumgaertner edition was most likely inferred from the publisher's trading dates. I assume our cataloger checked in German-language catalogues of institutional collections or issued by antiquarian booksellers such as Wegehaupt or Rumann. It couldn't be earlier than 1827 (the date of the first edition of the Harris original), but it certainly could be later."

How interesting! Cinderella was first written down by Charles Perrault in his Histoires; ou Contes du temps passé (1697) and was reprinted and translated throughout Europe. Here was an English adaptation from 1827 being translated back into French in 1835 in Leipzig, Germany, for the benefit of children learning to read French, as shown by the footnotes that gave the meaning of difficult words and phrases in German. The publisher had even copied the illustrations from the English publication. Then the next year Baumgaertner had arranged with the Parisian publisher Audot to resell its book in Paris, so a Parisian publisher had thought it worth selling in France itself which was full of copies of other editions! I do wonder what the young French readers thought of the German footnotes, though... All the images of the 1827 Harris edition can be seen at an Italian blog, Le figure dei libri [Book illustrations]. However, my library's copy and the Cotsen copy have finer illustrations although the scenes are the same. The Harris illustrations were produced from wood-engraved blocks, and the Baumgaertner illustrations were probably etched on metal then printed and hand colored, accounting for their delicacy of line. My library's copy also lacks a scene by the fire and a illustration on the title-page.

I suspect that the need to abbreviate the text to fit the verse format may have led John Harris or whatever unknown author he employed to create this version of Cinderella to cut out much of the original text. When it was retranslated back into French, the translator seems to have kept the cuts of the Harris text along with direct quotes from the Perrault original text instead of translating the English verses. I tried to provide an exact word-for-word translation, so mine is not an elegant translation. My apologies, but I felt a literal translation would be of more interest to my readers. I would like to share one choice in translation: the phrase petites-maîtresses led me to a fascinating website on French fashions, where it was explained that this referred to female equivalents of dandies, who were overdressed and arrogant. I chose to translate this as pretentiously dressed because I couldn't come up with a comparable term in English. Translation is always a series of choices, whether to be literal or poetic, or to change to a familiar version of the tale.

The World-Wide Web is full of versions of Cinderella, and digitized copies of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century texts with many different illustrations are easily discoverable. One little speculation here from my examination of these illustrations, is that the French editions show regal, full-size elegantly dressed fairy godmothers, save for the ones I have been exploring here. The French fairies were essentially self-representations of the French courtly ladies who originated the French fairy tale tradition. However, British folk lore had a long tradition of "little people" who were fairy folk, so that may have inspired the mini fairy godmother (dressed in a country-style, lower-class costume) of these illustrations. It would be interesting to see if later illustrated French fairy tale collections show any miniature fairies, that might trace back to these illustrations...

I hope my readers enjoy this post, and invite you to post comments and links to other resources on Cinderella!

11 comments:

Libby said...

Jenny, I am teaching a course on popular and literary reworkings of Cinderella over the years, and I can't wait to share this with my students. Thank you!

Jenny Schwartzberg said...

Libby, you are very welcome! I would be very happy to hear what your students think of this post.
Jenny

Mary Ann Dames - Reading, Writing, and Recipes said...

Jenny, Very interesting. I seem to recall that at one point the glass slipper was really fur but was changed in a translation.

Jenny Schwartzberg said...

Sorry, Mary-Ann, but the fur vs. glass slippers fuss was a nineteenth-century confusion, which engendered a lot of debate and fuss. The original Perrault edition of Histoires ou contes du temps passé avec des moralités (1697) had "pantoufles de verre" which is definitely translated as "glass slippers". Earlier versions of the Cinderella story had embroidered or gold slippers. The glass slippers were one of Perrault's original contributions to the story.

Solvang Sherrie said...

This is so fascinating!

When I was an aide in 2nd grade we used to compare and contrast Cinderella stories from around the world. It's so interesting how many versions there are and how they came to be.

A friend of mine just wrote a book called Cinders that imagines what happens after the happily ever after of the fairy tale. She went with the fur slippers in her story :)

Jenny Schwartzberg said...

I think the fur vs. glass slippers debate will go on forever. I do point out that the 1697 and later editions definitely read "pantoufles de verre" not vair. The great fairy tale website Sur La Lune has an extensive footnote on these glass slippers: http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/cinderella/notes.html#FORTY which then links to notes by the scholar Marian Roalfe Cox. I don't have time to locate more references but do go exploring on the Web. There are a lot of fun resources out there on Cinderella. If anyone has something more conclusive, please post it here in the comments.

Zoe @ Playing by the book said...

What a great post for your return to the kidlitosphere!

Jenny Schwartzberg said...

Thanks Zoe!

Sherrie, I assume your friend's book is Cinders by Michelle Davidson Argyle? The reviews do sound intriguing and I'll have to check it out.

Beth Finke said...

Thanks for commenting to my blog, Jenny -- it motivated me to take a look at *your* blog, and boy, was I rewarded! Loved this post about Cinderella and am now oh so tempted to "borrow" this list of descriptive words somewhere or another in my own writing: haughty, pretentiously overdressed, of a hard character, ugly, and spoiled...!

Ali B said...

Jenny, what an interesting addition to you library. Fairytales fascinate me and repel me in equal portions. I find the history and language compelling, but have always been troubled by the gender stereotypes and emphasis on marriage as the only road to happiness. Historically, I find it relevant, but as a modern day mother, I try to steer my daughter clear of the princess dominated fairytales.

Love your blog! I'll be back...

Lynette Mattke said...

Thanks for the wonderful details on the Cinderella story. It is one of my favorite fairy tales.