Story 37, part four in my retelling of Beauty and the Beast. If you are just finding my blog now, you probably want to read part one, part two, and part three first. Two more installments to go after this one! The story should finish up by Thanksgiving.
If you’d like a print of this story’s illustration, you can find that here.
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From the translation monograph of Nazar Alibek:
“The reader is given very different, often conflicting, descriptions of the beast throughout the manuscript, which again may reflect sources of differing origin and age. Late in the poem, the horse-familiar tells the shepherd that the beast was of noble birth, the daughter of a great sorcerer princess, who was transformed in this beastly aspect by a jealous rival of her mother’s. This version of the beast is described as profoundly erudite, precise and dignified in comportment, and swift and merciless in battle—all qualities one might expect to read in a standard commissioned extollment for a princess of the era. Yet earlier in the poem, the voice in the trees warns the shepherd that the beast has been imprisoned in her monstrous body for her crimes of savagery, that her exterior might better reflect the character of her soul.
The narrator also refers several times to the beast as “queen in the forest,” a phrase that shows striking similarity to the Elasim myth of “rajkath in the trees” and by extension the Mukari “rejgad,” or the Shadow Knight. While this creature is recovered from oral folklore many centuries younger than the Harbin manuscript, she is an intriguing parallel to the idea of a beast occupying the deep woods. The Shadow Knight is a gaunt woman with elongated limbs and needle-like teeth. She haunts the wildest parts of the landscape, whether forest or steppe, hunting lost travelers and children.
Whether the beast is meant to be an essentially human entity who is rescued from monstrosity, or a fundamentally monstrous one transfigured into humanity, is a subject for debate.”
Atzgar had turned his chair away from the fire so that he could watch what Khirkara was doing. The agreement that had been settled on, with considerable protest from the old man, was that he could examine the catalog at his leisure, but if he wanted to look at a specific book, he would need to get confirmation from his host before taking it off the shelf. Read More