Okay. Is it just me, or are we way past due for a little fun around here? Like, don’t get me wrong, I adore Prince Lindworm, and I’m super proud of my book, and fully intend to continue with the shameless self-promotion. And I’m sure I’ll never run out of anger over all of the various injustices of folklore. But there’s enough tough crap in real life, and I’m kind of over it right now. So let’s go silly.
Grimm Brothers. Two stories. Two amazing, ridiculous stories in which the noses are really only tangential, but I’m putting them front and center today.
The first time I read through the complete works of the Brothers Grimm, I marked everything remotely interesting with a post-it covered in commentary. This is what that ended up looking like:
So these stories, several pages apart, were both marked “nose swap,” with the page number of the other story. I had to reread them both to figure out what on earth I’d been talking about, and seldom have I encountered a more valuable use of my time.
Our first fairy tale is “Ferdinand the Faithful and Ferdinand the Unfaithful,” and it is a trip, guys. We start out pretty simple. There’s a miracle baby, a mysterious godfather, a mysterious key granting access to a mysterious castle. And then there’s a horse, which our miracle-boy Ferdinand—the faithful one, rides around on, picking up a magic pen, rescuing a fish, and getting a magic flute to summon the fish if he ever needs help in return. Standard stuff.
Then he meets a guy who introduces himself as Ferdinand the Unfaithful. Like, straight up, that’s what they call me. Who does that? Why point out your most significant character flaw upon first meeting, instantly warning everyone that you are not to be trusted?
Of course the really weird part here is that Good Ferd just carries on as if his new friend is not obviously the sketchiest of people (who, btw, knows everything about Good Ferd via “all kinds of wicked arts”).
So this cool, pretty girl is working at the inn where the two Ferds are staying (SHUT UP AUTOCORRECT IF I MEAN FRED I’LL TYPE FRED), and she falls in love with Good Ferd and gets him a job with the local king. And then she gets the same job for Bad Ferd, because she’s a little scared of him.
The king sends Good Ferd off to rescue his beloved, who’s chilling Sleeping-Beauty-style at the other end of the world. Which is where we get back into the helping fish, magic pen, talking horse, whatever crap, which we’re gonna skip because who cares? That happens in like every story.
He rescues the girl, the girl comes and marries the king, she decides the king sucks and she likes Good Ferd. Various shenanigans occur, the king gets murdered, the new queen marries Good Ferd, and we break the spell on his horse, which was, obviously, an enchanted prince all along.
There's a lot to unpack here. First, how did Good Ferd earn the Faithful title? We never even hear about his first girlfriend after she introduces us to the king. And then he stands by while a woman kills his employer, and then he marries her before her husband’s body is even cold. Who or what are you faithful to, man?
And, like, what is even the point of Bad Ferd? He doesn’t contribute to the story at all. Just hangs out in the background being shady.
And last but not least, the nose thing. It’s just this casual, throwaway line when the queen is contemplating regicide. “The Queen, however, did not love the King because he had no nose, but she would have much liked to love Ferdinand the Faithful.” Like, why did this nose situation not come up before? Why did it come up at all? Is it in any way relevant or necessary? Is it some weird euphemism I’m not getting? What is going on with this man’s nose?
To this day, I still have no answer.
On to the second story! “St. Joseph in the Forest.” For some reason I always confuse this one with “The Three Green Twigs.” A completely unrelated story that I mentioned in passing in the last Wednesday blog. Anyway. It’s also kind basic for the most part. Three daughters, increasingly nicer as they get younger, crazy mom prefers the old, mean kid. Littlest girl meets a strange old man in the forest, is nice to him, gets an awesome present. Whole family’s super excited about this, so the next day the middle kid goes into the forest. She’s slightly less nice to the strange old man, and gets a slightly less awesome present. Finally, the oldest girl goes in, and things get interesting. Because she’s totally rude, obviously.
Her awesome gift is…
(wait for it)
A SECOND NOSE ON TOP OF HER ORIGINAL NOSE!!! Double noses!!!!!
More stuff happens after that. She loses the second nose, and then she gets stung to death by lizards. Talk about lessons in minding your manners.
I think my plan, upon writing the original post-it notes than marked this story, was that Mean Girl should somehow transfer her additional nose over to the poor Noseless King. Presumably they would then get together, appropriately nosed, and no one would have to be murdered or stung to death by lizards. But rereading it, they do definitely describe the oldest daughter as a child, so I’m just like, really, Joe? Really? And it’s totally distracting me from the noses.
Saint Joseph. Dude. Sometimes kids are selfish brats. That’s just how it goes. Maybe you should get out of the sainthood biz and look for a new career path that can cater to your unique interests and skill sets, such as the torture and murder of children. There’s gotta be a wicked witch hiring at this time of year, right?
AND IT’S TIME FOR THE SURPRISE BONUS STORY
So, obviously, I didn’t bring the complete works of the Brothers Grimm with me to work this morning, because that’s a lot of book to haul around and cram into a cubby.
Which meant that when I wanted to work on this post over my lunch break, I had to rely on the internet for my source material. I couldn’t remember the title of the St Joseph story. Pitt.edu, the ultimate source for online Grimm brothers texts, betrayed me, and did not have the text of the Ferds. So I was left with Wikipedia, which of course didn’t bother to even mention the missing nose, leading me to believe I’d remembered the title of the wrong story.
Anyway. Some halfhearted nose-googling later, I wound up finding a whole new nose story. It’s called “The Nose Tree,” and may or may not also be Grimm brothers—it’s not in my collection, and it’s not showing up on any websites I would consider reputable sources, but there are a lot of sites attributing it to the Grimms, and there appears to be an Arthur Rackham illustration. It’s midnight. I don’t care enough to do serious research right now.
This is basically just a public service announcement regarding the existence of “The Nose Tree.” I’m not going to tell you the story, because the base plot is actually really similar to the fairy tale I’m talking about next week. What you need to know: There’s a magic apple tree that makes your nose grow, and it won’t stop growing or return to its normal size until you eat a magic pear.
Aren’t fairy tales great?
Have an awesome Halloween, and don’t forget about Lindworm!