(2/4/06 6:38 am)
Have you thought of the Changeling tradition?
The fact that in the past people considered children with disabilities as fairy children, that is the belief that some human healthy children could be stolen and replaced in the cradle by crippled fairy ones.
You find it widespread in all Europe, in folklore material and fairy-tales (see K. Briggs; also in Yeats collection there are some examples, but any book on folklore and fairies mentions it) and there are some studies on it.
One is in an edited book about fairies:
Munro, Joyce "The invisible made visible: the fairy changeling as a folk articulation of failure to thrive infants and children" in Narvaez (ed) THE GOOD PEOPLE (1991)
If you have an access to jstor you can check this (or find a copy of the journal in a library):
Eberly, Susan "Fairies and the folklore of disability" in Folklore No.99 ( 1988 ) .
Also Diane Purkiss in her last book on fairies has discussed the changeling (At the bottom of the garden... is the title).
While on the web:
In the more classical fairy-tales that have already been mentioned, generally an abnormal body is the attribute of a supernatural being (both good or evil)
Deformity is linked to a state of being that's not completely human.
Edited by: neverossa at: 2/4/06 6:42 am
(2/12/06 2:22 pm)
While her situation is not permanent, there are some interesting imagery and ideas to found in the wealth of armless maiden narratives. The Endicott Studio offers two articles and a whole lot of poetry on the Armless Maiden:
An article by Kim Antieau: Healing the Wounded Wild which is about the "Silverhands" version of the story:
And mine, "The Hero's Journey and the Armless Maiden" which is a general discussion of Armless Maiden narratives:
(2/18/06 3:07 am)
fairy tales and disability|
There's a lovely fairy-tale-inspired story called "The Lily and the Weaver's Heart" by Nancy Etchemendy that directly deals with the subject of physical disability. You can find in the the anthology The Armless Maiden (and Other Tales for Childhood's Survivors). The book is out of print, but used copies are easy to locate via abe.com, powells.com, or amazon.com.
(2/20/06 3:18 pm)
Re: Fairy Tales and disabilities|
I am familiar with two of the sources on blindness, but not with the German piece. I don't read German, but I should be able to find a translator. Is it a recent book?
(2/21/06 2:44 pm)
Re: Hunchback and the swan
Two remarks regarding hunchbacks, neither literary.
(1) A man who was a source of healing for me was living with a hunch
back. I noticed it for about ten seconds the first time I met him.
After that, although I saw the deformity, I did not see it as a
deformity, but rather as a part of his beauty and power to heal.
After he died, I was surprised to see and hear many references to
his disability. I had to think for a long time to realize what disability
was being referred to.
(2) I paraphrase a story from Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. For convenience, I quote directly from the book Miraculous Living by Rabbi Shoni Labowitz.
Quote: (here I switch to paraphrasing the paraphrase) In due time, they were married. In accord with Jewish custom, neither saw the face of the other until after the wedding. [N.B. No one I know follows the custom in this form --- but it does add to the drama.] She was disgusted by his appearance. God had permitted him to remember enough of the time before his birth that he was able to tell her, very gently, what had taken place in the upper realms before either of them had been born.
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach once told the story of a man yet in the upper realms who asked to see who his soul mate would be here on earth. God showed him the the picture of a beautiful young girl who had a hunchback. The man was so taken by the inner beauty of the young woman that he requested God give him the hunchback instead of her. So ....
Quote: I've looked in the collections of Reb Shlomo's stories to which I have ready access, and I have been unable to find this story. If you know where I can find the story in an older version, please let me know.
At that moment her eyes and heart were opened and she could see, hear, and touch the beauty in her husband as he had in her.
(3) There is a story I read recently, written by one of the Endicotters, in which the heroine is a one-eyed weaver girl. But perhaps you are interested only in hunchbacks.
(4) How wide are you casting the net of folklore? Does the story by Shlomo fall within your definition?
| Elizabeth Leigh
(3/2/06 8:28 pm)
| Re: Changeling
Yes, I am interested in this changeling perspective. Even Martin
Luther advocated throwing abnormal children into the river as "changelings."
I wonder what impairments these poor children had so as to make
them so undesirable. They were seen merely as "eaters."
I will check out your suggested sources. Thanks again.