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History of Brother and Sister

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Brother and Sister: A Matter of Seeing
by Ellen Steiber


This tale, like The Goose Girl, has the theme of a false bride. In turn, it also has similarities to Hansel and Gretel (Type 327) with its murderous stepmother and abandonment. It, too, is similar to The Black and the White Bride (Type 403). However, the tale has appeared in just this form in many cultures so it cannot be considered a simple variation on the other tales. Its first recorded appearance is in Basile's Pentamerone (1634-36). The story of Ninnillo and Nennella is from Basile's Il Pentamerone, Day 5, Tale 8. It can be found in Italy, the Balkans, Russia, the Baltic countries, and Germany. It also appears in the Near East all the way to India. Other versions have been recorded in North and Central Africa. It does not appear to have traveled to the Americas however (Thompson 1946).


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Brother and Sister Tales by Hoffman

Little Brother and Little Sister by Watts

Little Brother and Little Sister by  Barbara Cooney

Armless Maiden edited by Terri Windling

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Page created 10/2000; Last updated 7/2/07