Yep, our February ‘theme’ was the 19th century Norwegian fairytale collection put together by zoologist Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and folklorist (there’s a title) Jørgen Moe. East of the Sun, West of the Moon is just one of the stories contained within, but it’s also the title of the most common English collection, and it’s the one we have. The artwork used is by Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen, and they’re some of the most famous, beautiful and evocative fairytale illustrations we can think of, so it was a pleasure to incorporate them.
Should you wish to, you can read all the stories from the collection online here, which is well worth a few of anyone’s hours. The very shortest story in the collection is minuscule indeed, and you can read it here on our Instagram page.
The illustration used on the envelope is from the story The Three Princesses in the Blue Mountain, and on the bookplate, the girl riding the polar bear is our main character from East of the Sun, West of the Moon itself.
As with all fairytales, the collection’s European roots mean that there are many crossovers and influences between these tales and others you may have heard, or grown up with, and the infinite variations on the same themes that come with the telling and retelling of these stories and tropes make fairytales one of our very favourite genres to visit and explore. They’re the backbone of so much of all fiction (some would say, of all fiction), and the way we choose to read and understand them can tell us so much about the social and cultural world not just that we live in, but that we inherit.
The Crow and I grew up entranced, and sometimes terrified by, the wonderful Storyteller presentations of several European fairytales – if you’ve never seen these, they feature the best beloved John Hurt, and the magical puppetry of the Jim Henson workshop (best known, of course, for Labyrinth). If you pop over to this link, you can find the episode concerning the tale of The True Bride, which is clearly a strain of the same story (Wikipedia tells me it’s the German version of it, which seems logical). We also hugely recommend making a vat of tea and perhaps some biscuits or carrots or whatever you nibble whilst consuming entertainment, and then losing yourself in the entire Storyteller series, which is all available up there. Truly, important stuff.
It won’t have escaped regulars’ notice that East of the Sun, West of the Moon is also the title of the a-ha album we’ve listened to the most during the making of recent boxes, and in light of that here’s a bonus, a daft and poor quality little YouTube clip of the title song because grainy, quiet, daft a-ha are our favourites.
We are asked so often to find magic, to find escape, to find imaginative reads for our subscribers, and the hunt often starts with these oldest tales, from wherever in the world we can find them, and the many ways they’ve strained through time into novels, children’s and adults’ alike, good and bad, thrilling and cautionary. This book is the tip of the iceberg of one of our greatest human traditions, and it also celebrates the collection and preservation of these stories, which, in a tiny way, is also, we like to think, what Prudence and the Crow is all about.
Speaking of which, as February’s been a short month and it’s nice to give people a chance to get a recurring subscription that comes out after the first of the month, we’ll be keeping recurring subscriptions starting with a March box open until 4th March, so, should you wish to join us thus, or to buy a one-off, 3, 6 or 12-month gift subscription for someone, do head over to www.prudenceandthecrow.com and sign up!
Finally, we launched the PatCReadingList Project this month – to further knowledge about what’s been read in schools in our ship-to countries over the last thirty years, we’re calling for recommended reading lists, recollections and core course texts in various ways: hop over to the post for a detailed explanation of what, where, why and how-to! We’ve had some wonderful responses, and the more the very much merrier (esp. Americans – we’d love more from you!), so please do join in, definitely do share the post around (shareable Facebook post here) and, hopefully, we’ll come up with some interesting things to share right back in the future.
We wish you a beautiful and delightful March, for that is what’s next. Happy Leap Day!
~Prudence (and the Crow)