Series, Stories, and Odd Things

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Post Series

When the inspiration strikes me, I sometimes do a series of related posts about a topic that interests me. Here are some links to each entire series, in chronological order.

Stories my Parents Tell Me : Just like it says. This is a sporadic series, that I started very early on. Every so often I add something to it.

The Hummingbird Folklore Series : We’re a bit obsessed with hummingbirds at my house. Here are my retellings (and a couple of translations) of some hummingbird folktales from around the Americas.

The Mexican Monstresses Series: A series of posts about legendary dangerous female beings from Mexican (particularly Aztec) mythology. “Monstresses” isn’t really the right word; many of these beings are deities. But I liked the sound of the phrase.

The Flowers of Dorian Gray: A three-part series on the flower symbology in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Stories from the Pereginaggio: The Peregrinaggio di tre giovani figliuoli del re di Serendippo (The Peregrinations of the three young sons of the King of Serendippo) is a sixteenth-century collection of seven novellas, with a framing story, in the style of The Decameron or The Canterbury Tales. The Italian original is online, at Italian Wikisource, but the only complete and faithful English translation I know of is the 1965 Serendipity and the Three Princes (the first story I share is credited with introducing the word “serendipity” into English, via Horace Walpole). Here are my retellings of the episodes from the Peregrinnagio that I like the best.

Punjabi Folktales (link to my Ephemera blog): These were originally posts I made to the Non Stop Bhangra and Dholrhythms blogs, but I’ve moved them here. There is one more on Multo: The Marriage of Heer and Ranjha (my personal favorite).

Some Tales I’ve Shared

In addition to the winter tales that I share every year around Christmas, I also share ghost stories and other things year-round. Sometimes it’s to mark a holiday, and sometimes it’s just because I like a story and want to pass it on. Here’s where I keep a list of (mostly) public domain tales that I’ve shared outside the Christmas season. I’ve also included links to the original blog posts, which provide more background and context for the pieces.

Out of Exile and other stories (as PDF: 1.3 M) Also as EPUB (611 K)
by Wilbur Daniel Steele.
Mostly forgotten now, Wilbur Daniel Steele was one of the most popular American short story writers of the early twentieth century. His writing is full of lovely imagery, well-drawn characters, and some interesting plot twists. I love his stories of New England fishing communities, and his crime tales, as well. And sometimes, he wrote a ghost story.

This is a compilation I put together of some of my favorite public domain Steele stories. In addition to the actual tales of the supernatural, I’ve favored stories that have a touch of an otherworldly, eerie mood to them, as those are the ones I’m drawn to the most.
Original blog post.

Literary Fairy Tales

November Eve
by Lady Wilde. A fairy tale by Oscar Wilde’s mother, about meeting the fairies on All Hallow’s Eve.

The Devil’s Mother-in-Law (link to Project Gutenberg)
by Fernán Caballero (pseudonym of Cecilia Francisca Josefa Böhl de Faber). Originally from Caballero’s 1859 collection Cuentos y poesias populares Andaluces (Popular Andalucian Stories and Poetry). Mother Holofernes’s daughter gets engaged to the Devil. A humorous tale that includes several folklore motifs.
Original blog post.

The King’s Son-in-Law
by Antonio de Trueba.

There once was a king so avaricious that instead of spending his life making his subjects happy, he passed it running throughout his kingdom searching for mines of gold and silver, and leaving the devil in charge of the ship of State. A pox on such kings!

This is a delightful tale, witty and full of political and social commentary, from Trueba’s 1866 collection Cuentos de Vivos Y Muertos: contados por el pueblo y recontados por… (Tales of the Living and the Dead: told by the people and retold by…). In my own translation! It was challenging and fun to do. I hope you enjoy it.
Original blog post.

Curious, If True (link to my Ephemera blog)
by Elizabeth Gaskell. Actually a meta-fairy tale. An Englishman journeys to France to research his Calvinist roots, and a case of mistaken identity gains him entry to to an unusual party…. Ever wonder what happens to all those fairy tale characters in their happily ever after? Now you can find out. I added links to the relevant fairy tales throughout the text.
Original Multo blog post.

Ghost Stories

The Miserere (link to Project Gutenberg)
by Gustavo Bécquer. A story of ghostly monks who return every Maundy Thursday (the Thursday of Holy Week) to pray for their redemption. Bécquer was a Spanish writer and poet who, like Caballero and Trueba, was fascinated by his country’s folklore. I think of him as the Spanish Lafcadio Hearn —read the blog post for why.
Original blog post. Note the post points to a translation of this story that’s no longer online.

The Wade Monument
by Violet Jacob. A young man is on holiday in the town of Mintern Brevil, and notices a mysterious entry on a monument in the local church. He notices that someone else takes an interest in the monument, too. Someone only he can see. A little tale of psychic investigation, and one of Scottish poet Violet Jacob’s few ghost stories. I love it.
Original blog post.

Annie Cargill
by Violet Jacob. A young man reluctantly goes to spend a fortnight with his gruff and forbidding godfather. While indulging his love of heraldry amongst the ancient tombstones in an old kirkyard (churchyard) near his godfather’s property, he comes across something he doesn’t expect, and learns something about his godfather, too. A more conventional ghost story than “The Wade Monument,” but it has its charm.
Original blog post.

Other Curious and Interesting Things

On the Berbelang
By Ethelbert Forbes. Technically, this isn’t fiction; it’s an extract from a paper published in The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, in 1886. It certainly reads like a ghost story, though. Narrates the author’s quest to meet the Berbelang, the fearsome ghouls of Cagayan Sulu (Mapun), who could separate their spirits from their bodies to hunt.
Original blog post.

The Adventure of the Fair American (as PDF; also as EPUB)
by Andrew Lang. From Lang’s short story cycle The Disentanglers (1902). A combination of the berbelang myth with the fairy tale motif of a competition for a maiden’s hand. Somewhat marred by the casual racism of its time, but still interesting.
From the same blog post as “On the Berbelang”.

Cebuano Sorcery: Anecdotes
A few superstitions and anecdotes from Richard Lieban’s 1967 Cebuano Sorcery: Malign Magic in the Philippines. These are not public domain but fair use quotations.


Image Source: Max Pixel