Interviewer: Do you have any other Italian folktales?
LC: Yes another one I really like was called “The Clever Girl”. It was about a girl who came from a very poor family that lived on a farm. When the girl was a baby she was kissed by a fairy who blessed her with wit and beauty. When the girl was older her father came to her after finding a golden mortar, or bowl, in the woods, he told the girl that he would take it to the king as a gift. The girl told him that wouldn’t be smart because she thought the king would be offended that he didn’t have the pestle to go with the mortar. The father still took the mortar to the kind and the king was offended like she had guessed. The father apologized and told the king that his daughter told him this would happen. The king responded by telling him if she was so clever she would have to figure out how to make him and his army one thousand shirts out of this little cloth and spindles made of fish bones in order to save them. The man disappointingly brought the materials and news home to his daughter who wasn’t scared and told her father to tell the king that she would once he made her a loom of fish bones. The father then went and reluctantly told the king who was actually delighted by the girl’s wit. The king if the girl came to his castle neither naked or dressed and neither or on a horse or by foot he would have a husband for her. So after getting the news from her father the girl dropped her hair and it reached her toes, she wrapped herself in it and went to see the king riding on the back of her father’s ram. The king was stunned by both her wit and beauty and decided to marry the girl himself. Then they lived happily ever after.
Interviewer: How and when did you learn of this story?
LC: I learned this one from my grandma who’s from Italy, she told it to me a lot when I was little.
Interviewer: Does this story have any special meaning to you?
LC: Yes, I really like this one because of the girl in it. My grandma used to always tell it to me and my sister because she said we reminded of her of the girl because we were witty and beautiful. It also let me see myself as the girl who gets to marry the king and live happily ever after which every little girl loves.
Interviewer: Did you only hear this story from your grandma?
LC: Mainly yes, but she also taught it to my mom so she could also tell it to me and my sister.
Context: The informant is a seventeen-year-old young woman from Dallas, Texas. Her father’s parents are from Italy while both of hers are from America. She learned through her Italian grandmother telling her it. I collected this performance from the informant in person at the informant’s home in Dallas.
Analysis: I enjoyed this story because of the characteristics of the story and are embodied by the main character. I also enjoyed hearing it from my informant because it was something she felt near to both because how it was shared with her and the personal connection she felt to the girl in the story through her families folklore.
Another version of this tale can be found in:
Crane, Thomas Frederick. Italian Popular Tales. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1885.