Sunday, March 28, 2021

The Second Half: Related Stories

So I’ve been thinking more about the second half of King Lindorm, though I still haven’t put together a more thorough translation. But that’s just a good reason to take a more thorough look at other, similar stories.

The second half deviates significantly from the first; it’s categorized by Aarne-Thompson as a completely different tale type—707.

Some other notable stories that fit into this type are The Girl Without Hands, Mary’s Child, Bearskin, and the entire Bird Brothers category (This includes The Six Swans, The Twelve Brothers, The Twelve Wild Ducks, etc.). You can read more about Mary’s Child here, and you can read a post I wrote about Bird Brothers for Blooming Twig in 2015 here.

Now, most of these stories are, like King Lindorm, two part stories, where the first part ends with a girl marrying a king, and in the second part we have type 707. And a lot of these stories have pretty different first parts, though obviously the entire Bird Brothers category is very similar in both parts. And for the second half we split into two variants. In the Bird Brother types and Mary’s Child, the king’s wife is accused eating her own children and can’t defend herself because something in the first half of the story has made her unable or unwilling to speak. In Bearskin, The Girl Without Hands, and King Lindorm, the king’s wife is accused of giving birth to animals, and is unable to defend herself because she has no idea what’s going on—the king is away, and they’re sending letters to each other which are being switched out by someone with a grudge.

The one thing that I find really important about all of these stories is that the king is totally on his wife’s side. Their baby is dead and in pieces, and her mouth is smeared with blood? Clearly she’s being framed, or there’s been some kind of misunderstanding. His wife gave birth to puppies? Okay, that’s a little weird, a little concerning, but we’ll sort it all out when I get home.

These are men who love, trust, and defend their wives. Which is kind of rare in folklore.

And a lot of these guys are just straight up being good husbands, but the lindworm, specifically? He had better be a good husband. He was literally a dragon and she fixed him. Dude owes her. He had better be sticking up for his wife, and he has exactly zero room to judge when it comes to giving birth to non-humans.

(I think it’s worth noting that of all the stories in this category I’ve ever read, King Lindorm is the only one that features the king’s wife, um…feeding her breast milk to two other enchanted princes to break their spells? Don’t quote me on that, because I still don’t have a totally solid translation.)

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