24. The Persecuted Heroine (feat. Hailey Spencer)

Today's episode features our very first guest star as we learn about the heroine of ATU tale type 510A, most commonly known as Cinderella. We roast the Grimm brothers, fangirl over Baba Yaga, and ponder how so many different cultures can have such similar story.

To learn more about Hailey Spencer and read more of her work, go to haileyspencerwrites.com.


Cinderella Tales from Around the World by Sur La Lune Press, edited by Heidi Anne Heiner

From the Beast to the Blonde by Marina Warner

Grimm's Bold Boys and Bad Girls by Ruth B. Bottigheimer

,Encyclopædia Iranica

Cinderella: Three Hundred And Forty-Five Variants Of Cinderella, Catskin And Cap O'Rushes by Marian Roalfe Cox

Transcript Below:

Zoe: Hello, Mytholovers! This is Zoe. Today, we have an important announcement to make about changes to the future of our podcast. In order to ensure we can keep bringing you as high quality content as possible, after this week's episode, we will be moving to an every other week schedule. We will continue our themed episodes, but they will now be the first week of every other month. We thank you so much for your continued support and enthusiasm for this podcast we love to make, and we look forward to bringing you our next episode on Monday, March 15. Thank you so much, and enjoy this week's episode!

[intro music]

Lizzie: Hello, and welcome to Mytholadies, the podcast where we talk about women from mythology and folklore all over the world. We're your hosts.

Zoe: I'm Zoe.

Lizzie: And I'm Lizzie.

Zoe: And today, in lieu of our normal first of the month themed episode, we instead have a very awesome guest star, Hailey Spencer!

Hailey: Hi, everybody. I'm Hailey. I am a poet from Seattle. And I write a lot about fairy tales. So I am here to introduce you to the story of Cinderella and the different ways that that story can look. And I'm super excited to be here with Zoe and Lizzie. I think the podcast is awesome.

Lizzie: Thank you!

Zoe: Thank you so much. We're super excited to have you. We're so excited. But first, Lizzie, how's it going?

Lizzie: I'm fine. I'm starting my thesis soon. So that's exciting.

Zoe: Yeah. Oh, my gosh.

Hailey: What is your thesis on?

Lizzie: Well, so I'm a linguistics student and I'm doing it on ESL speakers who prefer expressing themselves in English like that phenomenon. So I'm really excited. I find it really interesting.

Zoe: I think that's super cool.

Lizzie: And how are you, Zoe?

Zoe: I'm good. I'm just chilling. I've had both days, the weekend days off from work, which like never happens. So it was very exciting. And I just made guacamole which I'm really excited to eat in honor of this whatever football game that's happening tonight. How are you doing Hailey?

Hailey: I'm doing pretty good. My girlfriend and I went and got brunch at one of our favorite little places nearby. And they forgot the cookie that my girlfriend ordered. So we went back to see if we could get it. And they without us even calling them they were waiting with a bag with two cookies. And they were like we're so sorry. Here's an extra cookie, and they gave it to us.

Lizzie: Oh! That's so nice.

Zoe: That sounds great.

Hailey: Gotta love your local places for things like that.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Definitely. So Cinderella.

Hailey: Yeah!

Zoe: Let's do it.

Hailey: I love the story of Cinderella. But one thing that's really interesting about it is that well, it's a really wide story in terms of different variations. Western culture, and I guess specifically the United States. I can't speak for other Western countries as much. But in the United States, people really only know one or two versions, and that's the Grimm or the Perrault versions. And because of that, Cinderella is really flattened into just one thing. Even when we adopt the Cinderella narrative for movies or books, we tend to stick closely to the story as it's been told by the Grimm Brothers or Charles Perrault. So my goal for today is to present a broader view of the Cinderella story. Just for some reference, I have read somewhere between one and two hundred variations of the Cinderella tale type, but scholars estimate that more than 2000 variations exist.

Zoe: Oh my gosh.

Lizzie: Oh, wow.

Hailey: Yeah. So I wanted to start by hearing what do you guys already know about Cinderella?

Lizzie: I know it's been adapted into multiple places, but I don't know the details. And I know the ones you mentioned, the Grimm version and the Perrault version, like, I mostly know Disney version, honestly, like.

Hailey: Disney is based off the Perrault version. So that is the one that we in the United States with the most familiar with whether or not we know that it came from Perrault.

Zoe: Oh, yeah. I'm— same, pretty much. I know a few— I know about the Egyptian version. I think it's like Rhodopis and the golden sandal or something like that. But I mainly am familiar with the Perrault version and the Grimm version. And I was the kid who was like, "oh, the fairy tales are actually so dark and spooky." And like "the stepsisters get attacked by birds" and stuff. Like, I was definitely that kid. Yeah, those are the main ones I know about. But I do know that it's like there are versions of it present in like so many different cultures throughout the world. And I think that's super cool. So excited to hear more.

Hailey: All right. So I'm going to start with a quote from the introduction to Cinderella Tales from around the world, which was collected by Heidi Anne Heiner, and she wrote the introduction as well. She says, “The quandary is that one version of Cinderella dominates all the others so we assume to know her, this fairy-tale celebrity, and many of us have grown bored with her to the point of relegating her to cliché and nothing else. But when we consider the hundreds of Cinderella variants from around the world, Cinderella becomes once again mysterious and lovely, active and vibrant, for she defies simple definition or understanding.”

Yeah, so since there's so many versions of the story, we clearly need some criteria to define what counts as Cinderella. For the purposes of this podcast and my work in general, I use the ATU classification system. It's by far the most popular way that folklore is organized. Basically how it works is that it organizes folktales by simplifying each tale type to a small set of criteria. And, for reference, a folktale versus a fairy tale, there's a lot of overlap. But a folk tale is a story that has been told broadly by lots of people and is usually passed on orally and then collected. And a literary fairy tale is a story that was written down by a specific person. So while there are literary versions of Cinderella, I'm going to be using the word folktale more broadly, because as a story Cinderella has been passed around and changed a lot. So that's the definition I'm using. So the ATU system creates criteria for what each folktale is going to be. And Cinderella is typically classified as any story and tale type 510A, the persecuted heroine. Some scholars also include tale types 510B, and 511. But that widens the scope considerably. And there's so much Cinderella already, that I would like to keep it simple, especially since those stories are not all recognizable to the modern reader, as Cinderella. So the criteria for tale type 510A, there's five of them. It's one, a girl is abused by female relatives. Two, a magical helper or event. Three, the meeting with the prince, king, or lord. Four the slipper test, and five, marriage to the prince, king, or lord.

Lizzie: Okay.

Hailey: Occasionally, a story might be classified as 510A if it's missing one or more of these factors. But in general, that's what we're looking for.

Lizzie: Are those like factors found in other tale types as well like here and there? Or are they all just unique to this one?

Hailey: So it's a little bit complicated, and some stories are hard to classify because of similarities in criteria. So if a story has all five of this criteria, we know that it's Cinderella. I actually have one story that I'm going to discuss later on that has four of these criteria. And it's generally classified as Cinderella, but some people also consider it Hansel and Gretel, because it has elements of that story as well. And you know, there are many stories, in particular the kind and unkind girls aspect where a girl is very kind and is rewarded. And she has a sister or stepsister who is unkind and is punished, there's actually a whole different tale type called "kind girls and unkind girls", but that matches some aspects of Cinderella.

Lizzie: Okay.

Hailey: So it's less about having the specific criteria only exist in the story and more if you have these criteria in this order, it's definitely the story. And if you have some of these criteria, scholars might be arguing about it.

Lizzie: Okay.

Zoe: I think it's so interesting that like, just knowing for like, for my limited knowledge of the Cinderella story, like, those seem like the five criterita seem so specifically Cinderella to me. And so it's so fascinating that there are so many stories from what you said that fit that specific criteria, like all five of them, like that's just so interesting.

Hailey: Yeah, and I'll be explaining some of these— actually I'll be explaining all of these criteria in a few minutes, because we can get deeper into a lot of them. But before we do that, I would like to read two of my poems about the story of Cinderella. And I chose these poems because a lot of my fairy tale poetry uses the ATU system as the structure. So what I'll do is I'll take some of the criteria, and have those written in and then in between, I have kind of prose poetry, about the specific version of the story I'm working with and for my ATU poems to keep things simple, you know, poetry is its own specific thing. I only use four of the criteria. So I have left out the slipper test in my telling but both of these poems will use the exact same wording for the ATU criteria. But because they are about different versions of Cinderella, the prose poetry is different.

Zoe: Okay, cool.

Hailey: Yeah. So the first one, "The Persecuted Heroine" ATU 510A, Iranian.

1. A girl is abused by her family.

The demands never cease: spin the cotton, sort it into piles, kill your mother and select your father’s new wife, don’t let the yellow cow out of the vinegar jar.

You’d think the girl never learned the word “no.”

2. The girl seeks assistance.

There is a demon in the well who will lie to you and a yellow cow who will tell you the truth. There is good in the world. There is harm in the world. They live inside the same round enclosed stones.

3. The girl receives an item that will change her fortune.

To escape the place that’s hurting you, all you need is:

a yellow cow,

to disobey the orders of a Dīv,

and a friendly wind.

(But she lies, you see, tells her sister that she ought to do as she’s told. The girl who disobeys is given a moon on her forehead and a bright star on her chin, and the other gains donkey’s ears and a tail.)

4. The girl marries a prince.

Separate the beans from the lentils. Cry until you’ve filled a jar with tears. Put on these beautiful clothes and go. Get in the oven so the prince won’t test the shoe upon your foot. Cover up the moon on your forehead and the bright star on your chin.

Or don’t.

So that was the first poem.

Zoe: Awesome.

Hailey: And I will later be talking about the specific stories these poems are based off of. Yeah, so the next one is also called the persecuted heroine. It's at 510A, Russian.

1. A girl is abused by her family.

The demands never cease: chop wood, work the fields, do the dishes, get a coal for our fire. What food she’s given, the girl feeds to her doll. She isn’t very hungry anymore.

But the fire still needs its fuel.

2. The girl seeks magical assistance.

Go to the woods. Go to the house of the witch in the woods. Walk past her skeleton gate, pulling the jawbone latch aside so you may enter. But first you must find the house, follow the chicken-step footprints through the dark forest and out the other side.

3. The girl receives an item that will change her fortune.

To escape the place that’s hurting you, all you need to do is:

separate the mildewed ears of corn

separate the poppy seeds and dirt

don’t forget to feed the magic doll.

When the witch sees that the girl is blessed, she gifts her a fiery skull and sends her home.

The girl shuts the jawbone latch and breaks into a run.

4. The girl marries a prince.

The fire burns down her home with her family inside, after which the girl moves to the city, after which she lives with an old woman and her weaving is so beautifully it is sold to the prince.

At the feast, she slips the doll in her pocket a taste of everything: lentils and mooncakes, poppyseed muffins, and the last small crumbs from her bread.

Lizzie: So that one was Vasilisa, right?

Hailey: Yes, Vasilisa the beautiful is a Cinderella tale type, although it's one of the ones that's a little bit disputed because it doesn't contain the slipper test.

Zoe: Mm hmm. I have heard of that one. I just hadn't realized—

Lizzie: I hadn't made the connection.

Hailey: I didn't make the connection until I was talking about the story to somebody. And they were like that sounds a little bit like Cinderella. And I was like, I need to see what type this is. And I looked into it and blew my mind.

Zoe: Awesome. I love that.

Hailey: Yeah. Okay, so now that we've gone into some of the poetry side of things, I'm going to pull back and we're gonna look closer at the criteria of a Cinderella story. So one thing I find really interesting and want to draw out is that in tale type 510A, the abuse always comes from a stepmother and one or more stepsisters, the father tends not to participate in the abuse, but he's erased from the narrative; either dead or just somehow absent after he makes the choice to marry the stepmother. So in the book From the Beast to the Blonde, Marina Warner has this to say about the father's absence. "The Cinderella story itself contains at its heart an unexplained mystery about her father's role in her sufferings. Why does Cinderella's father do nothing about her predicament? His part remains unspoken, neither complicity nor protest, a lost piece of the puzzle. In retellings of the fairy tale today, from pantomime and books, he either features as dead, so the women are wreaking havoc in the absence of male authority, or he too is suffering yet another of the wicked woman's victims."

Lizzie: When you were talking about the first one, the Iranian one about like donkey ears, it reminded me of Donkey Skin. Are you gonna talk about that? Or

Hailey: Donkey Skin is tale type 510B.

Lizzie: Oh, is it? Okay.

Hailey: Closely related to the Cinderella tale type. And for people listening who do not know this tale, is a tale type where the abuse is coming from the father instead of the mother or sisters. And the father specifically wants to marry his daughter and she has to escape. And she escapes often while wearing donkey skin or something similar. So you are right to see a connection between those stories. And that is connected to the fact that one thing that differentiates 510A and 510B is that in 510A the abuse comes from women and in 510B, the abuse comes from a man.

Lizzie: Makes sense.

Zoe: Interesting. Yeah, when you first said, when you were listing the criteria, and you said specifically female relatives, I thought that was really interesting. I think that was something I'd first, I'd read at some point that was like a product of like the Grimm Brothers' misogyny. But it's, since it's so widespread, I think that apparent- I guess that's not the case, even though the Grimm brothers were quite misogynistic. So I just think it's really interesting that it's such a female centered story, but the abuse is from women and it's, there's no like, well, like, I guess it depends on the version. Like if there's a fairy godmother, there's female support, but if there's not a fairy godmother, there's not female support, there's just abuse.

Hailey: And the magical helper does tend to be a feminine figure, regardless of whether it's a fairy godmother or something else, there tends to be some sort of feminine energy. Like in the Grimm version, the tree is planted on her mother's grave, and it's the birds in the tree who helped her. So yeah, it's interesting. The story really revolves around women in a lot of the roles. And actually, sorry, I have a lot to say about this. I'm trying to decide what to say first, but I think what I'm going to tell you is that in the book Grimm's Bad Girls and Bold Boys, the author talks about the way that the Grimm version of Cinderella, Aschenputtel, changed over their various editions. And one of the things that changed actually, is that dialogue was taken away from women and given to men. So the story that is actually very female centric in most tellings, as the Grimm Brothers rewrote their editions, became actually less female centric than it had been.

Zoe: Wow!

Hailey: Yeah. And that is really good book. If you're interested in learning more about the Grimm Brothers' misogyny, the author actually will take Grimm fairy tales and do an analysis of who has the most dialogue, what their dialogue looks like, is it passive or active dialogue? And she has like charts, showing it and then how it changed from the additions. So that's a great resource.

Lizzie: Sounds really interesting.

Zoe: So cool.

Hailey: The next hallmark of a Cinderella story is the magical helper. And this figure shows up differently in different stories. She also has varying levels of influence and I say "she" because as I said earlier, it tends to be a woman. There's a Japanese version I really liked that was collected by Keigo Seki called Benizara and Kakezara. And in that story, the magical helper only provides the dress for Benizara. Her friends come and help her clean the house and get her to the theater by ordinary means. And in some stories, the magical helper appears as a witch, such as in Vasilisa, the beautiful, you know, the magical helper is the Baba Yaga, a yellow cow or even in one story I'm going to discuss, a demon.

Lizzie: Ooh.

Hailey: So there's a large range of what the magical helper can be, which I love. So then there's the meeting, which we're used to seeing at a ball in the versions of Cinderella we're more familiar with, but it can take place at any number of settings. Some that are especially in common include a church or the theater. And then we have the slipper test, which is when the prince must determine whether he will marry the Cinderella figure or her stepsister. Now, sometimes, like in versions like the Perrault one, it seems like he goes and talks to lots of women, but in many versions, it's just her and her stepsister. And it doesn't have to be a slipper. It's called the slipper test because you know, the ATU system was made by Western folklorists, and these are more of the Western versions. But it can be anything to determine which woman is which. One of my favorites is again in the story of Benizara and Kakezara. The prince asks each girl to compose a poem, and he marries Benizara because he likes her poem better.

Lizzie: Ooh, that's interesting!

Hailey: Yeah, so lots of different versions, the slipper is the most common, but it is not by any means the only way to do it.

Zoe: A quick question, I, maybe I'm mishearing you but it sounds like you've been saying just stepsister as in singular. Is that the case? Or is it generally just one stepsister or two? Like in is the two like a generally a Disney thing or just the Perrault version? Or

Hailey: That actually really varies from version to version. One stepsister from what I have seen, seems to be the most common, but I've seen as few as one and as many as six.

Zoe: Oh!

Hailey: So it could— when there's more stepsisters it is checking between all of the stepsisters, but in a lot of versions is really just her and one other woman who she lives with.

Zoe: Gotcha. Thank you.

Hailey: Yeah. And I believe it was Basile's version, La gatta Cenerentola, that had six step siblings.

Zoe: Hmm.

Lizzie: Where's that one from?

Hailey: Basile was an Italian writer.

Lizzie: Oh, okay.

Hailey: Yeah, Giambattista Basile. So the final hallmark of the Cinderella story is that she marries a prince or a lord or a king, depending on where the story is coming from. For a lot of people, this can be a sticking point of the Cinderella story. And, you know, some people have argued that it's antifeminist because Cinderella needs a man to escape her abusive family. My personal opinion is a little different. I see Cinderella as a woman who seeks out help where she needs it. And marriage is the end result. But I don't think that does anything to dismiss her agency throughout the story. I think that either she is a woman who knew that marriage would escape her situation and goes out and makes that happen, or she's a woman who it doesn't really care about marriage, but wanted to do something, wasn't allowed to, and found a way to do it anyway, and the marriage is happenstance. And either way, I see a woman in a situation of abuse taking power over her own life as a really powerful story.

Zoe: Yeah, definitely.

Hailey: But I think the big reason a lot of people have such a negative view of Cinderella is the prevalence of Perrault's version, which, like I said, is the basis for the Disney Cinderella. His telling casts Cinderella as incredibly passive, which really shapes our United States Western understanding of her. And in the introduction to Cinderella Tales from Around the World, Heidi Anne Heiner talks about this as well, saying, perhaps the most regrettable element of Perrault's Cinderella is her level of passivity. The known Cinderellas that preceded her were less passive, as are most of the lesser known variants from around Europe, which postdate her. His Cinderella is rewarded for practicing goodness, obedience and patients by primarily waiting to be rescued, often in tears. She does little else to help herself. Her character served as a rallying point for modern audiences who want to label fairy tales as anti feminist or teaching outdated values for women.

Zoe: Yeah, I was definitely thinking that when you were talking about how people say that Cinderella is anti feminist and I was thinking I definitely see that particularly commentary with like Disney princesses and Disney movies. And then of course, that's the Perrault version. So it makes a lot of sense that it's just all linked to that.

Hailey: Absolutely. And yeah, I feel like that's such a classic like surface level analysis of fairy tales. Like, what are we teaching women, to wait around for a prince to come and find her shoe? And it's such a bummer because this is such a complex and interesting story. It sucks that it's been reduced to something.

Zoe: Yeah, definitely. Like you said there's so much more to it.

Hailey: And it's also too bad because I feel like the Disney version gets a bad rap as being like, nothing like the original people sometimes say, and by originals, they mean the Grimm version.

Zoe: Yeah.

Hailey: The Perrault predates Grimm.

Lizzie: Ah.

Zoe: Really?

Hailey: So that's also interesting. Yeah. Predates Grimm by a couple hundred years. And I'll talk about that a bit later.

Zoe: Okay.

Hailey: But it's interesting when people make that critique of the Disney version.

Zoe: Yeah.

Hailey: Now that we've established a bit about the tale type, I want to tell you a few versions of the story.

Lizzie: Great.

Zoe: All right.

Hailey: As I said earlier, scholars estimate there are over 2000 of these stories. So I cannot present all that right now, I'm just going to give a small sample platter of some of the things the tale type has to offer. And before each story, I want to tell you a little bit of what I've learned about the person or people who collected this version. I think that's important because folktales, like I said, they're not written just by one person, they are passed around, they are changed. And so understanding the biases and the historical context of the person who wrote it down is really important to understand why their version looks the way it does.

I'm going to start by talking about a story that Zoe brought up earlier. Rhodopis. it's an Egyptian version of Cinderella, and it's considered to be the earliest predecessor to Cinderella that we have discovered. It was first recorded by a Greek historian named Strabo in the first century. It might be based on a real story. And the part that reflects Cinderella, it's a longer story, but there's a very small part that reflects the Cinderella story. And I'm just going to tell you that. So a woman named Rhodopis is bathing when an eagle steals one of her sandals. He takes it, drops it on the king's lap, the king searches for the woman that belongs to and he marries her. So as you can see, this is very bare bones Cinderella, it does not include the familial abuse. But it does arguably contain a magical helper in the form of the eagle, and the slipper test and marriage to a king. So it's included in the canon because it's very close to what we know as Cinderella, which is impressive considering how many years back the story was first written down.

Zoe: Yeah.

Hailey: The next, I'm going through these chronologically. Next we have the story of Yeh-hsien, which is another very old version of Cinderella, from around 860 A.D. It was first recorded by Tuan Ch'ȇng-shih. It's a Chinese version, and it does contain all the expected criteria for the tale type. Now because it's so old, and this is true for the Egyptian one too, I could not find a lot of information about the person who first recorded it, but I can tell you that the version I'm summarizing was retold by Heidi Anne Heiner and it was derived from Translations by R.D. Jameson and Arthur Waley though. After the death of her father, or girl named Yeh-hsien is mistreated by her stepmother, being sent out on dangerous jobs in the hope that she will die she begins visiting a red fish in the pond behind her home to avoid seeing her stepmother, eating at leftover scraps. Her stepmother finds out and kills the fish and cooks it for the family to eat. Yeh-hsien finds out what happened and is told by a strange man that she should dig up the bones and hide them in her room, praying to them when she needs help.

Lizzie: Interesting.

Hailey: Yeah, so when the time for a festival arrives, Yeh-hsien waits until her stepmother is gone, then dresses herself in a cloak made of Kingfisher feathers and golden shoes that she's received from the fishbones. Worried about being noticed by her stepmother and stepsister, Yeh-hsien hurries home early and loses the shoe. The shoe was found and it gets sold between a bunch of people until it's eventually sold to a nearby king. He spends a long time searching for the owner of the shoe. And eventually he finds Yeh-hsien and marries her. But soon after their marriage, Yeh-hsien's stepmother and stepsister are killed by falling stones.

Zoe: Well.

Hailey: Yes.

Zoe: It's interesting for a lot of reasons, but it sounds like there's a male helper in that one with the the one who tells her to dig up the fish bones.

Hailey: Yes. And the fish was the spirit of her mother who died. So the fish is in some ways the magical helper. You could also argue that the man who tells her about the bones is magical helper, you might say they both are. And so what's interesting is that her mom kind of dies twice. Her mom dies, she gets a stepmother. And then her stepmother kills the fish that has the spirit of her mother. Which, in Chinese versions of Cinderella, there is often the return of the mother in some form.

Zoe: Oh!

Lizzie: Okay. That's interesting.

Hailey: Yeah.

Lizzie: Is it usually in like a, like a new way like a fish or?

Hailey: Yeah. And a fish is common, a yellow cow is very common in a couple different cultures. I believe a fish and a y- from what I have seen the fish and the yellow cow are the most common if it's the return of the mother.

Lizzie: Okay.

Zoe: Very interesting.

Hailey: Now, what do you think about that ending with the stepmother and stepsister being killed by falling stones?

Lizzie: I think it's great. [laughs] Happy ending.

Zoe: It reminds me of I think the Grimm version with- they get their eyes pecked out, that happens, yeah. So there is the aspect of them getting punished and very much the whole like, you do good, good will come your way, if you do bad bad will come your way, like what goes around comes around ideas.

Hailey: Yes, and that is very classic in tale types that use the kind girls and unkind girls motif.

Zoe: Yeah, that sounds—

Hailey: Kind girls are rewarded and unkind girls are punished.

Zoe: Yeah, that makes sense.

Lizzie: I also feel like usually the Cinderella women are like the pretty ones and the stepsisters are the ugly ones is that like really common, or?

Hailey: That varies. So for Benizara and Kakezara, one of the names means Crimson Bowl and the other means Broken Bowl. I believe that Benizara the hero is Crimson Bowl. And I think that story has some things about their beauty. But a lot of the stories don't comment on their looks very much.

Zoe: Huh, okay.

Lizzie: Sort of reflects the culture I guess.

Hailey: Yeah, Disney really codified the stepsisters being ugly. But mostly what you read is that they're cruel.

Zoe: Yeah. And then there's that then for like the Disney version and the cultural idea that we see after is that, we've talked about before on the podcast, of ugly being evil or associated with bad things and pretty being associated with good things.

Hailey: Yeah, so I'm now gonna just really briefly discuss Perrault, we already know this story. But I think cultural context is really interesting for this one. So Charles Perrault recorded his version titled Cendrillon in 1697. Charles Perrault was French. And at the time, there were a lot of French contemporaries who were really immersed in writing fairy tales, either literary fairy tales, or recording folktales. They were both really common. But most of the circle of people doing that in France were women. And many of them are largely left out of the canon of folklore unless you're like, doing scholarship.

Lizzie: Yeah, like the woman who wrote Beauty and the Beast, I forget her name, but that was a woman I think.

Hailey: That was a woman, and Beauty and the Beast was originally or I mean, the version of Beauty and the Beast we understand as that story was a literary fairy tale. That has since been adapted. So she was not recording- that was a novel. And so she was not recording a story that had been passed on to her in the way that some of these folktales are.

Zoe: Ah.

Hailey: But one thing that's interesting is that Perrault's niece, Marie-Jeanne L'Heritier de Vendillon, began to write fairy tales before Perrault did, and may have been involved in the writing of some of his stories.

Zoe: Oh!

Lizzie: Interesting!

Hailey:So, like I said, I'm not gonna give that big a summary cause we're very familiar with the story. You know. It's got a fairy godmother, pumpkin carriage, glass slipper, we know the story. But I do wanna contextualize it in the place of the Cinderella canon, and I do wanna draw out that in this version, there is no divine punishment for the stepsisters.

Zoe: Hmm.

Hailey: And of all the versions of the story that I'm talking about today, that is only true for Perrault's version and Rhodopis, in which there are no stepsisters.

Zoe: Hm.

Hailey:So it is very uncommon to have no divine retribution.

Lizzie: Interesting!

Zoe: That is really interesting. I'm trying to think of which is, like, more Christian--to have divine retribution, or not have divine retribution (Lizzie laughs).

Hailey: So next, we have Aschenputtel, which is the Grimm Brothers' version, recorded by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. It was first published in the 1812 edition of their book Children and Household Tales, but they edited their collection many times over the years and the edition you’re most likely to come across when reading Grimm versions is their final edition, which wasn't published until 1857.

Lizzie: Mm.

Hailey: And the Grimm brothers are really mythologized. We think of them as men who wandered the countryside collecting folktales, trying to create a concept of German storytelling, but many of their stories were taken from other places in Europe, and many of their stories, like, a very large amount, were contributed by women, notably--

Zoe: Mmm.

Hailey: --Marie Hassenpflug and Dorothea Veihmann.

Zoe: Wow.

Hailey:And those women are not always talked about when we talk about the Grimm Brothers. But they arguably have a very large stake in the collecting process, and were very involved--

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Hailey: --in these stories getting put down. So, especially when we think about the earlier edition versus the later editions, where the Grimm brothers edited things, we can start to see the Grimm brothers' influence as the version of their own stories changed. I also wanna note that one of the ways we've mythologized these men is that their versions of folktales are very often casually referred to as the “originals,” (Zoe laughs)of whatever version of story we're talking about.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Hailey: Which I find really frustrating. Unless something started as a literary fairytale, like Beauty and the Beast,we can't really trace originals. We don't know who first told a specific story. Secondly, the Grimm brothers aren’t actually that far back. As you'll notice, the edition of their book that most of us have read, if we've read any of it, came out less than 200 years ago.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Hailey: Which is nothingin the world of folklore and mythology. So like I said earlier, especially when people get upset about Disney's Cinderellanot being faithful to what they consider the canon, if they're talking about the Grimm version, that's just simply incorrect because Perrault came earlier. And Disney never claimed they were basing it off the Grimm version. There's nothing in there that looks like the Grimm version.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Yeah, that's really interesting. Cause they weren't literary fairytales at all, right?

Hailey:No. I mean, any fairytale you could technically sort of have a literary version of it, in that, like, somebody--like, Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchantedcould be considered a literary fairytale, right? So you can have literary versions of Cinderella, but the Grimm brothers were very specifically folklorists.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Hailey: They were writing versions that they heard or claimed to have heard from peasants wandering the countryside, as we've mythologized it, although again, mostly it was these two women who knew a lot of stories, or knew people who knew stories.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Yeah, it's just fascinating how they've developed such a powerful influence and place in the western literary canon, even when they didn't really--I mean, I g--maybe they did something new, maybe they didn't, I don't really know that much about, like, folklorist traditions and stuff. But like you said, they, like, didn't invent any stories, they just wrote them down and changed them to suit their particular values, and--

Hailey: And they weren't inventing the wheel for collecting.

Zoe: Yeah.

Hailey:We have a lot of especially French and Italian people who were collecting long before them.

Zoe: (overlapping)Yeah! Yeah.

Hailey: And that's just in the west.

Zoe: Yeah! Yeah, exactly. So why are they so influential? I--like, there's probably scholarship about why they have such an influence, but it's just so baffling.

Hailey: Yes, and again I really would recommend the book, Grimms' Bad Girls and Bold Boysfor discussion of why the Grimm brothers are as influential as they are--

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Hailey: --and a really interesting gendered analysis of their writing.

Zoe: Yeah, I definitely wanna read that.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Hailey: So now I'm gonna tell you their version of Cinderella. If you're familiar with this version, it is probably because you have seen Into the Woods (Zoe laughs). Because Into the Woodsuses the Grimm version rather than the Perrault.

Lizzie: Okay.

Hailey: So, in the Grimm version of Cinderella, the heroine, Aschenputtel, wants to go to a festival which will take place over the course of three nights, at which time the prince will choose his bride. Her stepmother tosses lentils into the ashes of the fire and tell her she can go if she picks them out in two hours’ time. She's helped by birds, but the stepmother still refuses claiming it's because Aschenputtel doesn’t have the proper clothes. She goes and cries at the tree by her mother’s grave, and a bird throws down a dress and slippers for her. The prince falls in love with her at the festival and finds her slipper. When he brings it to the house, both stepsister cut off parts of their foot to fit into the shoe--and then, are later caught by the prince for having done that. Once the prince figures out that they lied, he learned that Aschenputtel is really the woman he was seeking, and he marries her. And when the stepsisters attend the wedding, their eyes are pecked out by birds.

Lizzie: Amazing (laughs)

Zoe: (laughs)

Hailey: Yeah.

Zoe: It's so bloody!

Hailey: It's so bloody (Zoe laughs).

Lizzie: Were all the Grimm tales, like, super dark?

Hailey: Grimm--so it's complicated. A lot of fairytales are darker than the Grimms. If you look at, um, Sleeping Beauty, it's really interesting, their Sleeping Beauty is sotoned down. And they toned it down between editions to, like, make it even more palatable. So some stories they, like, chilled them out. Arguably, they did not really chill out the Cinderella story.

Lizzie: Yeah (laughs).

Zoe: Yeah.

Hailey: They left that one kind of intense. But--and I know we're not talking about Sleeping Beauty, but, like, many versions of Sleeping Beauty are quite different, and involve intended cannibalism, and rape, and many other quite crazy things you would not expect from that story. And the Grimm brothers actually reigned it in a lot on that one.

Lizzie: Okay.

Zoe: Wow! Well (laughs).

Hailey: It just really depends on the story, I think.

Zoe: I do think I've read some pretty messed up versions of, uh, Sleeping Beauty, just, like, looking at books that are, like, you know, fairytales, and, yeah.

Hailey: Yeah. So, the next two stories are the ones off which I based the poems I read at the top of the episode. The first one is Vasilisa the Beautiful, which was written down by Alexander Afanasyev, in the 1850s. So, fairly close to Grimm brothers. He was basically contemporary with them, doing a similar thing to them, but in Russia.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Hailey: This story is typically classified as Cinderella. It's occasionally grouped with Hansel and Gretel because it has a child going into the woods and meeting a witch who wants to eat her.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Hailey: And it's hard to classify this story because, in general, the prince is much of a bigger deal in the story, and he is much of an afterthought in this story. Sometimes people retell it and just leave out the part with the prince cause it's very much, like, not that important. And there's no slipper test. So that's why it's a little controversial, but I love this story, and I think it's interesting to include as a way of seeing what a very different Cinderella could look like.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: And Baba Yaga is really fun.

Zoe: Yeah.

Hailey: I love Baba Yaga (Lizzie laughs). I actually have a tattoo of her house on my calf.

Lizzie: That's awesome (laughs).

Zoe: (overlapping)Awesome! I love that so much.

Hailey: Loved her since I was a small child. I think she's amazing (Lizzie laughs).

Zoe: That's so fun.

Hailey:So, in this version, Vasilisa the Beautiful, a girl named Vasilisa lives with her abusive stepfamily. And her father is away. You know, it's very absent father motif. Her mother, before she died, gave her a magic doll and the doll helps her with the menial work that her stepfamily makes her do. One night, when she's with her stepmother and stepsisters, her stepmother purposely puts out all the fires in the house. And in the cold of Russia, they can’t survive without fire, so they send Vasilisa to the woods to seek out the help of a Baba Yaga. Now, the stepmother and stepsisters are totally planning to just--they've got all the stuff. They're gonna just relight all the fires when she's gone. They're sending her away to be killed by the witch.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Hailey: Baba Yaga is the old lady witch of Russian folklore who eats visitors to her house.

Zoe: We love her.

Hailey: And--yeah. She's an icon (Lizzie and Zoe laugh). Uh, Baba Yaga roams the forest on a house that walks on chicken legs, with a dancing skeleton fence in front of it, and when people stop at her house she either eats them or aids them on her quest. And it can be hard to tell which she's gonna do (Zoe laughs).So, Vasilisa finds her house, and the Baba Yaga gives her lists of chores to do in exchange for fire, but she says she’ll eat her if she can’t do the chores in time. And of course, the chores are impossible. They are things like, clean my poppy seeds so there's no dirt on them, ridiculous stuff like that. But with the help of her magic doll, Vasilisa completes every one of the chores. So the Baba Yaga demands to know how Vasilisa did it, and Vasilisa shows her the doll, and explains about her mother’s blessing. Baba Yaga is repelled by having a blessed item in her home (Zoe laughs), so she takes a skull and puts fire in it, and gives it to Vasilisa and sends her home with it. So Vasilisa has actually gotten what she was set out for, which is fire for the hearth. But when she reaches the house, her stepfamily is glad to see her because in the time that she’s been gone, they haven’t been able to relight the fire, even though that was their plan. So they are, like, cold and freezing. And she brings the skull into the house, and it burns down the house with her stepfamily in it (Zoe laughs). And Vasilisa is the only survivor.

Zoe and Lizzie: Wow (laughs).

Hailey: Yeah, it's intense. So then, and this is the part that's kind of a footnote, and often the story just ends after the fire, but after that she does, in this version, leave the house, and get adopted by an old woman, who teaches her how to weave. And one day, she weaves a linen so beautiful it gets sold to the prince, and he comes to find the woman who made it, and asks her to marry him.

Lizzie: Amazing.

Hailey: Amazing. Yup. Total footnote. But as you'll notice (laughing), again, the stepfamily gets quite the divine retribution.

Zoe: Mm hmm. It's actually really funny cause I'm pretty sure I saw, like, one of those art things online that's, like, edgy fairytales and stuff, and it's, like, Cinderella, like, burning down--committing arson to burn down her family's house (Lizzie laughs)and that's actually really funny, considering this story, and how (laughing)that's actually what happens.

Hailey: Yeah, yeah. And I just love Baba Yaga! I love that she gives her not only what she asks for, but in a way, what she wants.

Zoe: Yeah!

Hailey: Which is bigger than what she's asking for, right?

Lizzie: Yeah.

Hailey: She asks for the fire, but she's given a way to escape her stepfamily.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Awesome.

Hailey: So--and I just think having a witch as the magical helper is so delightful and strange.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: (overlapping)Yeah, especially--especially Baba Yaga. Because she's--like you said, sometimes she eats you (laughing)sometimes she doesn't.

Hailey: Yeah!

Zoe: Like, she's such an interesting choice.

Hailey: Yeah, she's a great magical helper! The-the last story that I wanna share is an Iranian version. It's called The Story of Little Fatima. It was collected by Robert and Emily Lorimer in 1919. So, Robert and Emily Lorimer were a husband and wife duo, which makes Emily one of the rare women who has received credit for her contributions to folklore scholarship in a big way.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Hailey: And it's also worth pointing out, Robert Lorimer was a military officer and an armchair linguist, and he collected Persian folktales from the Bakhtiari and Kermani dialects in Iran. I couldn’t find a ton of information about him as a person, but according to Encyclopedia Iranica, he was one of several armchair folklorists who collected Persian folklores with no training in how to collect stories in a culturally responsible way.

Lizzie: Hmm.

Hailey: So this--I love this version of Cinderella, and once you hear it, I think you'll understand why. It's phenomenal. And I’m excited to tell it, but I also think anytime we're talking about collectors, we need to know where they came from and what they were doing. And this was a white man going into somebody else's culture and writing down the story.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Hailey: So, this story begins with Fatima’s mother alive and healthy. Fatima’s mulla, or teacher, coerces her into killing her mother so that the teacher can marry her father.

Lizzie: Wow.

Zoe: Whoa!

Hailey: Now, this is not the only Cinderella I've read where this happens! It is actually not uncommon and I think, again, also appears in Basile's La gatta Cenerentola,that she kills her mother so that her teacher can marry her father.

Zoe: Wow!

Hailey: So, once she's married to the father, Fatima's new stepmother is cruel to her, and gives her large piles of cotton to spin and beats her when she can’t spin it all. Fatima’s mother returns to life in the form of a yellow cow, which eats the cotton and vomits it up perfectly spun. One day, a wisp of cotton falls into the well. Fatima is so terrified of being beaten that she goes in after it, but her mother, the yellow cow, warns her that there is a Div, or demon, that lives in the well. So she instructs Fatima to greet the Div politely, but do the opposite of what the Div tells her.

Lizzie: Interesting.

Hailey: For example, when the Div tells Fatima to break her water jugs, she instead takes them and fills them with fresh water. When she leaves the well, the Div tells her she can take whatever jewels or treasure she wants, but Fatima only takes back the cotton she lost. And she is rewarded for this with a moon on her forehead and a star on her chin. When she returns to her house, Fatima’s stepmother demands to know how she was blessed so that her own daughter, Fatima’s stepsister, can be blessed too.

Zoe: Hmm.

Hailey: Fatima sends the stepsister into the well, but she tells her to do exactly what the Div says, and as a result, the stepsister is cursed with donkey’s ears on her forehead and a donkey tail on her chin.

Lizzie: Gross (Zoe laughs).

Hailey: Yup, gross. Later, the King throws a wedding party for his daughter, and Fatima is given chores to do before she can attend, but of course, the yellow cow helps her. The king’s son sees her and falls in love, she leaves a slipper at the ball, and he comes to find her. The two are married, and Fatima’s stepmother and stepsister die of annoyance.

Lizzie: (Laughs)

Zoe: Well!

Hailey: Yeah (Zoe laughs). Now, one contextual thing--cause I did some research on this story, because I don't have as much background in Iranian folklore. Unfortunately, a lot of folklore scholarship that's easy to come across in English is super focused on western folklore.

Zoe: Mm.

Hailey:But I did some research on aspects of the story, and the Div is really interesting. Divs are demons that are usually male, so the fact that it is a female Div makes sense in the context of the Cinderella story, but is still interesting.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Yeah.

Hailey: The other thing I learned that's crazy cool is that Divs work in opposites. And so her mother was actually telling her, like, the cultural context of the Div essentially--like, Divs sleep in the day and are up at night, they do the opposite of what they are told and things like that.

Zoe: Ahh.

Hailey: So, I see this story as a girl who, at the beginning, does not know when it's okay to say no to things. That there's context where somebody asks you to do something like kill your mom, you could just not do it. And has to learn through the story that there are situations where it's appropriate to not do what you're told.

Zoe: Awesome!

Hailey: And is rewarded for that. So that is why I love this version so much.

Zoe: Yeah. I love that analysis. That's so cool.

Hailey: Yeah.

Lizzie: It's interesting that her mother--like, she killed her mother, but the mother still helped her.

Zoe: Mm.

Hailey: Yeah.

Zoe: Yeah, that's so true.

Hailey: Yeah, so those are the stories I brought with me today. So now we can just discuss a little bit! I'm excited to see what you guys thought!

Lizzie: I loved all of them. Maybe less so the Grimm one (laughs)but that one was still pretty fun (Zoe laughs).It's really interesting that there's, like, a huge gap between the first one, and the next one that you told. Like, from--the Egyptian one was, like, what, the first century CE?

Hailey: Yeah. And then the Chinese one was--

Lizzie: Like--like, the 800s, right?

Hailey: Yeah, it was around 860 AD. And then there's another big gap between that and the others I told, which are all--you know, the next one I told after that was Perrault, I think.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Hailey: Which was, you know, a thousand years after that. Although, there are many stories in the interim.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Hailey: These are ones that I'm especially familiar with and interested in telling, and I felt like it was important to bring in Grimm and Perrault to put them in the wider context of the story.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Definitely. I just think that considering all that you've said about how people think that Cinderella's an anti-feminist story based on, like, familiarity with the Perrault version, and how she needs a man to save her, blah blah blah, and then considering how non-sweet and passive so many of these stories are, and how many of them involve acts of violence and punishment for the stepsister and the mother, and even--you said many of them involve Cinderella doing acts of violence herself I think is so interesting. Like, Perrault's story is just so very much an outlier compared to the rest of them, and it's really a much more--I mean, like, you said, it's a much more complex and it really involves a lot more of, like, Cinderella's agency and, you know, more willingness to do things that aren't, like, traditionally associated with women, like to kill her own mother.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Or to allow her stepsisters to get attacked by birds, or whatever.

Hailey: Yeah, and what's interesting is that in a lot of them, there's kind of a passive acceptance that there will be divine retribution for the people, but then in some, like in Little Fatima, she actively, like, she tells her stepsister the wrong thing about going into the well.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Hailey: And gets her cursed on purpose (Lizzie laughs).

Zoe: Yeah.

Hailey: And I think that's kinda fun!

Zoe: Yeah!

Hailey: I think that's fun that there's different amounts of agency, but then some of them she's just like, these people aren't nice to me! I don't need to help them.

Zoe: Yeah!

Lizzie: Exactly. It's interesting that, like, the Perrault version is not just, like, the Disney version, but also, like, I feel like all the Cinderella retellings that we even hear about, like A Cinderella Story--great movie, stuff like that (Zoe laughs).

Zoe: Yeah.

Hailey: A Cinderella Story--the slipper test is the cellphone, right?

Zoe: Yeah (laughs).

Lizzie: Yes! (laughs)Great!

Hailey: That is technically a slipper test!

Zoe: Yeah! And also thinking about the good girl-bad girl, um, trope, or, uh--

Hailey: Yeah. Kind and unkind girls.

Zoe: Kind and unkind girl! There we go. Um, I couldn't remember. And considering that in, like, the greater context of the stories you said, again, where, like, Little Fatima tells the stepsister to do the wrong thing on purpose--I feel like that sort of goes against that, which is really interesting. Like, of course I'm sure there are many stories where that does fall into that classification, but it's really interesting when it doesn't. Like, very distinctly doesn't.

Hailey: Yeah, you're right. Cinderella is not always a kind girl archetype.

Zoe: And I think that makes it so much more interesting, cause, like, Cinderella as we often know it really is, like, a very heavily moral story, like, the sweet girl who's being abused gets the good stuff, and, like, her stepsisters are miserable and sad, but I think that to make her more complex is very--or, like, not necessarily as--so, like, black and white moral is so much more interesting, and that exists in the folktales is so cool.

Lizzie: And you mentioned that there's more stuff for the slipper test than just shoes? Like, what would be an example?

Hailey: I mean, like we said in A Cinderella Story,the cell phone absolutely counts as a slipper test. We have in Benizara and Kakezara the poem.

Lizzie: Right, yes.

Hailey:Honestly, it is very commonly a slipper, so I'm having trouble remembering other examples of when it is not a slipper.

Lizzie: That's fine.

Hailey: Yeah.

Lizzie: I think it's really interesting when it's the poem, because it's, like, it's like something you can actually control, like, writing something, like, about your intelligence.

Hailey: Yeah, it's very arbitrary (Lizzie laughs). It's not like he knew--it's not like they were in a situation where her knew one of the women was a good poet (Lizzie laughs).

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Hailey: He was just like, well clearly, the better poet is the woman I wanna marry.

Lizzie: That's awesome (laughs).

Zoe: Yeah, and it's like--a lot of people are like, how can you marry someone you just met, like based on the slipper, or whatever, you know, um, and so it is really is, like, yes, the person who is the better poet is someone you'd wanna marry because you're more interested in someone who's a good poet. Like, that makes a total sense.

Hailey: It also reminds us that, like, it's all arbitrary. The slipper's arbitrary, people are always pointing out, like, there was nobody else that slipper could have fit. Any test is going to be a little bit arbitrary. But somehow, they always do still find the right woman.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Fascinating. And in the Perrault version, is it a glass slipper, or is that just Disney version?

Hailey: It's the glass slipper in Perrault. People have argued over whether it was, like, mistranscribed and was supposed to be a fur slipper, because the French words for glass and fur are really similar, but people have come to the conclusion that it probably was intneded to be glass slipper.

Lizzie: Okay, and then in China it was golden, right?

Hailey: Um, well, there's multiple Chinese versions. So in the Chinese version I told, which was Yeh-hsien, the oldest Chinese version, it is golden shoes, yes. And a cloak made of kingfisher feathers.

Lizzie: That's fun.

Hailey: Yeah. But yeah, there's actually--there's a couple of really interesting ones. Beauty and Pock Face is another pretty well-known Chinese version that's definitely worth looking into.

Lizzie: Oh yeah, that sounds kind of familiar.

Hailey: And that one does have some of the pretty girl/ugly girl element, I had forgotten to mention that one. But, you know, she's so beautiful she's called Beauty (Zoe laughs),and her sister is scarred from the smallpox.

Zoe: Wait! Isn't there, like, a Native American story that's like that?

Hailey: There are Native American Cinderellas, and I believe there is one like that, at least one?

Zoe: There's one that's, like, a picture book that I used to read when I was a kid. I can't remember what it was called, though.

Lizzie: Interesting.

Hailey: I think I know which one you're talking about.

Zoe: It was called The Rough-Faced Girl.

Hailey: Yes.

Zoe: That's the particular book I was thinking of that's published, but I'm sure it go--it's by other names as well.

Hailey: And there's other Native American versions that are very similar to that from different tribal groups, but, I mean, similarly to Little Fatima, some of the folklore scholarship was not great, and not always done with people who had the best interests of the group at heart.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Hailey: And so, again a gr--just a grain of salt anytime it's western people--

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Hailey: --collecting folklores from non-western people, and saying, like--you know, there's gonna be a slant.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Hailey: So there's two books that are full of Cinderella stories in a very, like, good folklore scholarship way. One is Cinderella Tales from Around the World,which is, I personally prefer. I think it's a little more broad culturally, and I think the scholarship does a really good job of really specifically defining what they call Cinderella, and then it divides into Cinderella stories, 510B stories, which are, like, Donkeyskin--

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Hailey: --and 511 stories, which are One-eye, Two-eyes, and Three-eyes, and the Grimm versions. And she does a good job prefacing some of the stories with here's what we do and don't know about this, in front of Vasilisa she's got a little paragraph explaining, like, here's why I'm counting this, even though it's a little controversial.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Hailey: So I think it's very good information. There's an older book, Three Hundred and Forty-Five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O'Rushesby Marianne Roalfe Cox. That is an older book than Cinderella Tales from Around the World.What Marianne Roalfe Cox did very well was collecting lots of different things that have criteria of Cinderella, and when she couldn't find a story, she was able to at least, like, transcribe, here is what we know about this story. So it's a really useful research resource, but it also is a lot more focused on western versions. And it has a lot of stories in it that are not quite within the Cinderella tale type. They're not categorized as nicely as in Cinderella Tales from Around the World,where they will say, I'm including this and here's what tale type this is. And so you sometimes get a story that doesn't quite fit the Cinderella criteria as neatly. But both are amazing resources, if you're trying to learn more about Cinderella. And when I first read Cinderella--Three Hundred and Forty-Five Variants,which I did not actually read all of the variants (Zoe laughs),but I read a good number of them. It was because I was recognizing as I started to write my Cinderella poems, which were at the time just more western Cinderella, how much I had an embedded idea of Cinderella in my mind that I needed to get out of.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Hailey: And by reading so many versions, even just from western countries, it helped me recognize how much Cinderella is not just one thing.

Lizzie: Is there, like--is it known why this story is, like, worldwide, or--like, is it, like, cultural spread, or is it, like, just coincidence?

Hailey: So theories around folklore are really interesting because the answer is we don't really know. And there was a period where scholars were much more into this. Where people tried to trace things back to the one true story.

Zoe: Mm.

Hailey: And so they would be, like, okay, here's this tale type, let's see how far we can trace it back and see where it comes from, and then see if we can trace the spread, see if we can trace like, the Silk Road and things like that as places where it could have spread. And they did that a lot with Cinderella because it is so many places, so it's interesting to try to do, but it's complicated because it seems that in many cases, the same stories spring up naturally in different cultures, and it's really hard to tell which is which, and so at a certain point folklorists were like, is this an interesting enough question?

Zoe: Mm!

Hailey: Is this really what we wanna be investing our time and energy in? But the ATU system was--part of its original purpose was to find the one true version of stories. Because if you have criteria, it's much easier to say yes, this old story counts.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Yeah. Yeah, it's just so fascinating to me that stories with such similar features and characteristics could spring up naturally in different cultures that didn't have as much contact with each other. Like, that's just so interesting to me.

Lizzie: I feel like it's so specific for a story to-to be everywhere.

Hailey and Zoe: Yeah.

Hailey: And--

Zoe: And it's so cool.

Hailey: You know, again there's different theories on this. Jungian folklorists are really interested in the idea of, like, archetypes and things that are just in the collective unconscious that we all kind of innately have, and how, like, given enough time, will these things be put together in a certain way, no matter where you are. Now, I know a lot of people love Jung and a lot of poeple hate him--

Lizzie: Yeah (Zoe laughs).

Hailey: He's a very controversial guy. But that is one way people have investigated it. I think Vladimir Prop was really into looking at tale type motifs, and how they rose naturally in different cultures. He was a Russian folklorist. So, you know, I think the best answer I can give you for any of that is, it depends on who you ask.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: Yeah, makes sense.

Hailey: Yeah, folklore is cool and weird cause there's a lot we know, and there's a lot that we don't at all have--we aren't anywhere close to knowing.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Hailey: It's an exciting field.

Zoe: Yeah. Oh my gosh. It's so cool. Well, thank you so much for listening. This was such an awesome episode. I learned so much. I had such a good time (laughs).If you enjoyed this episode as much as I did, please make sure to subscribe, uh, leave a review, and tell all your friends about how much you liked this episode! And Hailey, where can we find you and read more of your work?

Hailey: So I have a website, haileyspencerwrites.com. That's writes like w-r-i-t-e-s. And there will be a link in the show notes. And on there, I have links to everywhere that you can read or purchase my poetry. I also have links to a couple of webseries that I helped write. And it's a great place to just follow to see what else I've got going on as more things come up!

Zoe: Awesome!

Lizzie: Great!

Zoe: Thank you so much for being here!


Zoe: This was so great.

Lizzie: Yeah, this was so interesting.

Hailey: Thank you for having me! This was super fun!

Lizzie: Yeah!

Zoe: Yeah.

Hailey: And, like, I am obsessed with folktales.

Lizzie: Yes.

Hailey: And Cinderella is such a fascinating one, so it's such a joy to be able to talk about it.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Yeah! Absolutely. Well, thank you! And good-bye.

Hailey: Good-bye.

Outro, underscored by music:

Zoe: Mytholadies Podcast is produced by Elizabeth LaCroix and Zoe Koeninger. Today's episode was researched and presented by Hailey Spencer. You can find us on Instagram and Twitter @ mytholadies and visit us on our website at mytholadies.com. Our cover art is by Helena Cailleaux. Our music was written and performed by Icarus Tyree. Thanks for listening! See you next week!