Columns | Tales for Willful Readers

How Fairy Tales Teach Us to Love the Unknowable

Love is born in the quiet ways we reveal ourselves; how we notice and love our partners when they take on new, surprising forms.

Illustration by Walter Crane, 1911 / image via NYPL

The second sister responds the same, but the third accepts his offer: “Indeed, I will wed thee; a pretty creature is the hoodie.”

Illustration by H. J. Ford from ‘The Lilac Fairy Book,’ edited by Andrew Lang. Published in 1910 by Longmans, Green, and Co.

“The Hoodie-Crow” belongs to the type of tales categorized as “the search for the lost husband.” A more famous example of this tale type is the Norwegian fairy tale “East O’ the Sun, West O’ the Moon,” a beautiful story in which a youngest daughter weds a terrifying bear only to discover that he is a handsome, enchanted young man who casts off his bear pelt in the dark hours of night. A cousin to “Beauty and the Beast,” this tale type has firm roots in Greek mythology, with the story of Cupid and Psyche.

Illustration from a scene in ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon’ by Kay Rasmus Nielsen, 1914 / image via NYPL 

Illustration by H. Weim, 1864 / image via NYPL

le petit mort