The Sun Princess and the Fortieth Door

The Sun Princess herself

I’m sitting in dappled light. A few feet away, honey bees are busy at the entrance to a top-bar hive. A night of rain has softened the land-burn of Summer and I’m mulling over the tale I’ll be telling in just over a week in Moretonhampstead and then a few weeks later by the fires of Uncivilisation. Welcome to the story of the Sun Princess.

As you’ll know by now, I don’t too often venture outside the realms of East European folktales. Rima and I really pushed the boat out last year and learned a Chukchi tale from the Eastern tip of Siberia, which is stretching the envelope of Eastern Europe a giant’s step too far, but it’s clear that most of the tales we love have their homes (for now, at least) in Russia, or Romania, or Poland, or – as in this tale – in Lithuania. How Rima and I met, all that time ago, because of a Lithuanian folktale, this is another story entirely, and involves more hedgehogs, but this tale, the Sun Princess (or The Sun Princess and the Fortieth Door as we’re calling it) concerns mountains of precious metals, witches, giants, dragons, celestial princesses and spoiled princes, a pike, a falcon, a bear and a three-eyed goat (which is a new one, for me – I should get out more, I imagine.)

The Sun Princess and the Fortieth Door

We’d be delighted if you were to come along to one of our tellings: in Moretonhampstead, we’ll be round a fire near Green Hill Arts at 7pm on Saturday 3rd August; at Uncivilisation, we’ll be telling on Friday night by the fire near the pizza oven, same as the last few years. I’ll be putting out the words and Rima’ll be magic-ing it up with accordion and lanterns. You can get tickets for the Moretonhampstead show on the Green Hill Arts website, or from the gallery; tickets for Uncivilisation (if you haven’t got them already, which you will have, because you’re wise and smart and have chosen well) are on their website. Get ticketed up now and we’ll see you in Devon or Hampshire. Follow the sound of the accordion and the subtly-attuned bleatings of the great three-eyed goat…

Credit: The excellent illustrations used for the flyer and this post are by Albina Makunaite, from ‘The Sun Princess and Her Deliverer’ (or ‘The Liberator of the Sun’) published by Raduga (Moscow) 1969.

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5 thoughts on “The Sun Princess and the Fortieth Door

  1. You need to set up a video so we can be your virtual audience as well. Not to mention how I would love to share the telling with my boys and my class. Wishing you and Rima an evening of silvertongued telling.

  2. I’m not too sure we’ll get video together for this telling, but if we do, I’ll post it here, for sure. Charlotte – we’ll try and get North when we can: this year’s been a crazed thing. Tiff – I can’t promise we’ll get that far soon, but some day we’ll make it…

  3. That all sounds completely wonderful. I’m with the others in their plea for live streaming. Maybe one day! I’m sorry to think I’ll miss the three-eyed goat. Hedgehogs…?

  4. Not a squeek of a hedgehog in this one! But there is a pike… Perhaps we’ll attempt a recording at Uncivilisation when we tell it there next week…

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