THE BOOK OF ROMANCE - online children's book

King Arthur, His Court and Knights in the Age of Chivalry
Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford
Published By Longmans, Green, And Co London, Circa 1902




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It is to be supposed that children do not read Prefaces; these are Bluebeard's rooms, which they are not curious to unlock. A few words may therefore be said about the Romances contained in this book. In the editor's opinion, romances are only fairy tales grown up. The whole mass of the plot and incident of romance was invented by nobody knows who, nobody knows when, nobody knows where. Almost every people has the Cinderella story, with all sorts of variations: a boy hero in place of a girl heroine, a beast in place of a fairy godmother, and so on. The Zunis, an- agricultural tribe of New Mexico, have a version in which the moral turns out to be against poor Cinderella, who comes to an ill end. The Red Indians have the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, told in a very touching shape, but without the music. On the other hand, the negroes in the States have the Orpheus tale, adapted to plantation life, in a form which is certainly borrowed from Europeans. This version was sent to me some years ago by Mr. Barnet Phillips, Brooklyn, New York, and I give it here for its curiosity. If the proper names, Jim Orpus and Dicey, had not been given, wre might not feel absolutely certain that the story was borrowed. It is a good example of adaptation from the heroic age of Greece to the servile age of Africans.