As you know, I’m on a quest to read 1,000 fairy and folk tales, myths and legends, before the decade is out. I recently read two collections of Hungarian stories, one of which is bilingual, which I bought in the ever cherished hope that sooner or later I will master enough of this beautiful yet dastardly difficult language, to connect me to our Hungarian roots.
Meanwhile, I enjoyed the English translations and the illustrations. Some of the stories have wonderfully convoluted openings, such as this one:
Once upon a time, far away, even beyond the Sea of Operencia, even beyond the Glass Mountains, was a ruined furnace without a side, where it was good it was not bad, and where it was bad it was not good, beside a bare mountain, farther away than the back of beyond, was a river, and on its bank an ancient, hollow willow, and on every branch a ragged, tattered skirt, in every thread and hem of each of which was a horde of fleas – and let him that does not heed my story become the herdsman of those flea-hordes. And if he makes me forget just once, let him be consigned to the dread blood-letting of the horde of fleas, and be bitten to death.
Source: ‘Death and the Old Woman,’ in The Princess That Saw Everything: Twenty-Four Hungarian Folk Tales (Budapest: Katalin Csorba, 1998), p. 37