PETROSINELLA: A Neapolitan Rapunzel by Giambattista Basile

PETROSINELLA: A Neapolitan Rapunzel

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No sense to this as a story for children, no appeal to it as an illustrated tale. We have, first off, ""a woman named Pascadozzia who was expecting her first child."" Struck by a craving for the parsley in her ogress-neighbor's garden, Pascadozzia goes in to fetch some again and again--until, inevitably, the ogress catches her. ""The Devil put me up to it,"" Pascadozzia pleads, futilely; then, under threat of death, she promises the ogress her child-to-be. That is Petrosinella (""which means parsley""), whom the ogress constantly reminds of her mother's promise--to the point that Pascadozzia tells Petrosinella to answer ""Take it."" So the ogress seizes the unsuspecting Petrosinella and locks her up in a tower, Rapunzel-like; and the story proceeds more or less in the usual fashion. But to have it hinge on the mother's repeated, heedless trips to the garden, the mother's promise of her child, and finally the mother's betrayal of her half-grown daughter--all this gives the tale, in this version, a distinctly off-putting, even disturbing cast. The full-page, full-color pictures, meanwhile, are of the minutely-delineated, expressionless sort--except that the ogress and her gossip-friend are truly hideous. It's really rather a nightmare--in concrete form, just what fairy-tale-wary parents once wanted to protect children from.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1981
Publisher: Warne