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Three Princesses Gone Wild (Grimm Tales You've Never Heard)

Today, in my continued excitement over the first-ever English translation of the Grimms' original, first-edition tale collection (thanks again, Jack Zipes), I am going to demonstrate the act of storytelling in a couple of different ways.

First, I'm going to rewrite, from memory and in my own words, two stories of princesses behaving in a very un-Victorian manner from the collection that I have read exactly once. (No peeking at the book, I promise.) You'll have to pick up a copy of the book to see how closely my retellings match the text. (Here's a hint... I made up the thing about the wigs. But I'm sure that's how it would have gone down, if you think about it.)

Next, I present a video of myself reading a selection aloud, straight from the book. The story I read here is "The Long Nose," which should make Pinocchio feel a little less ashamed of his, uh... nasal enlargement penitence. This is something that has been happening to naughty men (and princesses!) since who knows when, for lying or stealing or eating of the forbidden fruit. (Ugh! So metaphorical!) Please enjoy.


"The Frog Prince"

Once upon a time, a princess dropped her favorite golden ball down a well. She started to cry until a talking frog emerged from the well and offered to retrieve it for her if she would agree to become his sweetheart.

The princess agreed, certain that the silly creature could not actually leave its slimy abode. When the frog brought up the golden ball in his mouth, she thanked him and went home.

As she sat down to dinner with her family that night, she was surprised to hear a series of splats coming up the steps, followed by a knock at the door. Her father, the king, was astonished to find a frog there, calling to be let in because the princess had promised to be his sweetheart.

The princess begged her father not to let the frog come in, but the king was outraged. "A talking frog!" he exclaimed. "You had better keep your promise to him. Now share your dinner with your guest."

The princess barely kept her dinner down as the frog hopped up next to her plate and shared her food. But she dared not disobey her father.

When night fell, the frog demanded to come upstairs and join the princess in her bed. The princess turned to her father with a wounded princess expression on her face. "But DAAAAAAAD!"

However, the king returned his daughter's look with his own Look, and she was obliged to pick up the frog and carry him to her bedchamber. The frog said, "Now put me on your bed so I can sleep with you."

This was the last straw for the princess, and in her disgusted rage, she clutched the frog in her fist and pitched him against the stone wall, hard enough to smash him dead. But when the frog's squishy little body struck the wall, it transformed--not into a grisly splatter but into the tall and handsome form of a naked young prince.

Oh yeah!

"Oh!" the princess exclaimed. "You may join me in my bed after all."

The two young people spent a pleasurable night together, and they were greeted the next morning by the prince's overjoyed servants, arriving in a magnificent coach, so happy that their prince was finally released from his curse.

One of the overjoyed servants was Iron Henry, who had found it necessary to bind his heart in iron rings when his master was cursed so that his heart didn't explode with sorrow.


Yet, they rode off into the sunset to get church-married and live happily ever after.

"Simple Hans"

Once upon a time, there was a king who lived with his only child, a daughter. They lived happily together... UNTIL the day it became obvious that the princess was pregnant.

Everyone side-eyed the king, who lived uncomfortably within a whole oral tradition of molester dad kings.

"Daughter!" he shouted. "You must announce the father of this baby right now!"

"But Daaaaad," she said, "I didn't DO anything."

The two lived awash in hostility and suspicion until the child was born and for many months thereafter. The king demanded again and again that his daughter reveal the child's father, but she refused to admit that she had been with any man.

Finally the king could stand it no longer. "Look here," he said. "We are going to get all the noblemen of the kingdom--just the noblemen, of course--and stuff them in the chapel. Then we'll give your kid a lemon and set him loose in the chapel. The first guy he hands the lemon to, we'll declare him the father and that will be that."

The princess shrugged. And so the plan was carried out, except that a hunchbacked peasant by the name of Simple Hans sneaked into the chapel and pushed forward to see the princess's child. The little boy ran forward and handed Simple Hans the lemon.

The king was furious. "I am so over this shit!" he bellowed, and he ordered his men to throw Simple Hans, the princess, and the baby into a barrel and cast them into the sea.

While the three of them bobbed and rolled on the waves, the princess said, "What the hell, man? Why did you crash this party? It was none of your business!"

"Actually," said the hunchback, "it was."

"What do you mean?"

"I really am the baby's father."

"Excuse me? I've never even met you."

"I know." Simple Hans leered. "But I have magic powers, and anything I think comes true. So I thought you pregnant."

The princess snorted. "Oh yeah? Then think us something to eat. I'm hungry."

"Okay." Simple Hans closed his eyes, concentrated, and poof! A plate of boiled potatoes appeared in the barrel.

"Wow," said the princess. "You ARE magical. And remarkably stupid. This was the best thing you could think of? Wait, hold on. I'll tell you what to think about. Think us a ship."

"Okay." Simple Hans closed his eyes again, and when he opened them, they found themselves standing on a magnificent ship sailing along with a skilled crew.

"Sweet," said the princess. "Now think us an island with a castle on it and a bunch of servants."

So he did.

"Amazeballs," said the princess, stepping ashore. "Now think yourself smart and hot."

And so he did.

And the family of three lived happily UNTIL...

One day, the princess's father sailed his ship across the sea and encountered the new island with the magnificent castle on it. "Huh," he said. "I didn't even know this was here." He decided to investigate.

the HBIC
When he knocked at the door of the castle, he was greeted with warm hospitality. He did not recognize Simple Hans, his grandson, or even his own daughter, who had become rather grand and had all the cosmetics and wigs one could possibly imagine.

After he had spent a few days with the hospitable but still mysterious family of the island, he took his leave. On his way out, the princess slipped a golden cup into his pocket. Then she sent a couple knights up ahead to search him before he passed the gates.

They frisked the old king and withdrew the golden cup from his pocket.

"What!" the king exclaimed. "I didn't DO anything!"

But they dragged him back to the princess, where he begged for mercy. "I don't know how it got in there! I swear!"

The princess crossed her arms. "That's what she said."

The castle burst into laughter, and the princess took off her outrageous wig. "That'll teach you to judge, Dad," she said.

"Ha! Good one, daughter," the king said, wiping the sweat from his brow.

And they all embraced and made up and lived in peace with one another.

When the old king died, Simple Hans inherited the kingdom, and his son became crown prince.

"The Long Nose"


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