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Articles tagged "Folk Tales"

Petroleum Venus

“Vanya, why are you sitting in the dark?” “I’m looking at the picture,” came the imperturbable reply. “What picture?” What new fantasy had come into his mind? I walked up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder. A picture frame he had brought in off the street was propped against our pot-bellied fridge. It had a picture in it. I flicked the switch and warm light flowed down from our tumblerlike lampshades. A naked blonde, her...

The Sarima’s Mission

Bulul! Tununun! Bululululu! Tununununun! Bulululululululul! Tunununununununu! The voice of the hill resounded in the blue sky, as if several thunderclaps had occurred at one time, or as if a group of stars had collapsed over our heads. I can still hear that echo and feel the great terror that came over me at that moment. Yes, I was very frightened, so much so, that when I became aware of what had happened, I buried my head in my grandmother's shawl. I remember clearly when Maruca,...

A Dog’s Life

Translator's Note: When I asked Ani Shua to tell me what motivated her to write this odd little story, she immediately provided the following background information about the legend of the werewolf—or lobizón—in Argentina. To my great astonishment, she wasn't kidding—she maintains this belief really existed in Argentina, as well as the incredible practice of naming the seventh son after the president in order to avoid the possibility of that child's...

Crazy Zarifé

It was because of a star that appeared between the Great Bear and the Little Bear that the goats in a village in northern Lebanon ate the French essays of the eighth-grade primary class. Engrossed in watching the luminous point that she'd just noticed for the first time, the schoolmistress didn't see them enter her classroom, devour her pupils' work, and then bound out the window with their bellies full of words. —So much the worse for them, they'll drop their...

The Woman Who Stole the Rain

I go to Lisbon on business fairly regularly. I get on a plane to go there, if not every month, then at least every six weeks or so. I understand the language well enough not to need an interpreter, having spent a good deal of my childhood and adolescence in Brazil, where my parents lived for some years, again for professional reasons. I know the city reasonably well too. Places we travel to frequently eventually do start to feel familiar, at least superficially, even when, at a deeper...

The Golem in the Mirror

I dreamed of Prague at night. It looked the way each of us to whom the words "Old City" speak at least a little would imagine. I knew the Golem had returned, and I ran through the streets hoping to find it. The rain had just passed and "the wet eaves glimmered like sabers," I thought to myself in my sleep. Ahead of me flickered a yellow body, obviously soft, like something made of dough. I was surprised how quickly it moved, and I dashed down a narrow alley to cut off its path. The Golem...

Two Common Misconceptions

One Reasons for the Extinction of Basilisks The most casual observation would seem to suggest, beyond a doubt, that the basilisk species is on its way to extinction. Based on the studies conducted so far, it is clear that this is not the result of their persecution by the natives-driven by their superstitions-but is due rather to the length that these creatures require to carry out their reproductive cycles and the obstacles they encounter in that process. It is patently untrue...

The Madness of Suibhne

In the Annals of the Four Masters it is told how Suibhne, king of Kildare, had a taste for the things of this world. He was a simple man. His happiness and pleasures were simple. He was heavy and coarse, with unruly blond hair that resembled moss on a stone -- intellectually and spiritually he lacked finesse. He fought, he ate, he laughed, and in other respects resembled the brown ox from Cualngé, which mates with fifty heifers a day. Fin Barr, the abbot, closely watched this...

Queen of the Night and Stone Flower

On the souls of those who live life free under the skies-with the blades of grass, at the edge of the forest, on hills bedizened with bright flowers of the field-it is written that they must know many hidden mysteries. The eyes of the Roma know exactly when the earth's heart begins to stir deep down at spring's root, reviving the shoots of grass and the buds of trees until the green sap bursts with love before the Sun's eyes. How many things my grandmother Lulika knew! Time...

The Water Cathedral

On sunny mornings the walls are white wine, the columns are ginger ale, the towers are immense bottles of beer, the high steeples drip amber. Down in the naves you feel the freshness of orange-water and the main altar is a wave of bee honey, and the saints in the chapels have the coolness of that tea they give to the sick. But in the afternoons, in the twilight hour, the walls turn into thick blood, the colonnade moves on legs of red wine, the towers are that false liquid of red-hot...

from “Lepanto’s Other Hand”

The story of the Juan Latino's portraitist, Esteban Luz, who enters this story when Don Juan of Austria visits Granada during the Alpujarras War (1568-70), otherwise known as the Civil War. Near the city of Grenada, in a village whose name has been forgotten--it was one of those Moorish villages wiped out during the war--a boy with an astonishing gift was born. He became a painter, an excellent one; he executed portraits that were both more faithful and inspired than any of his...

Poverty

Note: This piece was originally written in Yucatecan Maya, and was probably adapted from the oral tradition. The Maya to Spanish translation was done in a collaboration with Miguel Angel May May, Santiago Domínguez Aké and Joaquín Bestard. The three translators from Maya to Spanish are among the best known writers and translators of Yucatecan Maya. Miguel Angel May May, himself a widely published writer in Maya, Spanish and English, is also one of the leading...

Granny Long Tongue

This story is set in the time when monsters were still living up there in the mountains and down here in the forests. Granny Long Tongue and Red Ban the Ogre lived high up on Mt. Okuyama, at Okumata Pass. The woman's tongue was longer than a snakevine, stronger than a stable boy's whip. Red Ban's face was broader than a cottage window, and when he bared his tusks and moved his face up close to yours, he was so scary that even the mountain bears rolled their eyes in fright....

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