The Fourth Pig (Oddly Modern Fair Tales)

Naomi Mitchison

Language: English

Pages: 257


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Fourth Pig, originally published in 1936, is a wide-ranging and fascinating collection of fairy tales, poems, and ballads. Droll and sad, spirited and apprehensive, The Fourth Pig reflects the hopes and forebodings of its era but also resonates with those of today. It is a testament to the talents of Naomi Mitchison (1897–1999), who was an irrepressible phenomenon—a significant Scottish political activist as well as a prolific author. Mitchison’s work, exemplified by the tales in this superb new edition, is stamped with her characteristic sharp wit, magical invention, and vivid political and social consciousness.

Mitchison rewrites well-known stories such as “Hansel and Gretel” and “The Little Mermaid,” and she picks up the tune of a ballad with admiring fidelity to form, as in “Mairi MacLean and the Fairy Man.” Her experimental approach is encapsulated in the title story, which is a dark departure from “The Three Little Pigs.” And in the play Kate Crackernuts, the author dramatizes in charms and songs a struggle against the subterranean powers of fairies who abduct humans for their pleasure. Marina Warner, the celebrated scholar of fairy tales and fiction author, provides an insightful introduction that reveals why Mitchison’s writing remains significant.

The Fourth Pig is a literary rediscovery, a pleasure that will reawaken interest in a remarkable writer and personality.

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for some odd reason saw fit To strew like Xs over Kansas (X equals nothing), We have come to the Indian section. The Indians, as everyone knows, Are being assimilated, that is the Good Indians Who go to the Church schools and learn to sell things and be customers themselves. The Bad Indians were all killed by the ancestors of the Christian Scientists, The ancestors of the Rotarians, the readers of Esquire, and the D.A.R., The ancestors of Franklin D. Roosevelt, General Johnson and Huey

does, you know, when one wants something bad but one hasn’t the money for it. And Mary could hear the way they talked to one another, not minding a bit about things they couldn’t get, not minding anything yet, just because they were in love. And Betty Wothers was never once thinking of school days with Mary and how keen they’d both got about class-work and hockey on Saturdays, and doing better than the rest of the girls, and having tea with the headmistress. And Bert forgetting all about his

horrible way, as though she were seeing me, my own highly important and cossetted self, as so many pounds of meat. At the same time saliva dripped from her lower lip and from what I could not help recollecting were her new false teeth. This look almost succeeded in reducing me to my former condition of complete discouragement, and had I not made a sudden move, it would certainly have done so. However, I snatched up the triangular knife from the table and threatened her with it. The witch’s look

“You shut up!” I said, and I took off the tarn-helm and dropped it on the frog. It clanged on the pavement and disappeared, and so did the frog. I only hope he took it back to wherever it belongs. At the same moment a taxi drew up and I knew I had to be getting along back to Middle Earth. “Can’t I give you a lift, Joan?” I said. “I’m awfully glad it was you, not the Princess!” Joan said: “I know you now, with that silly old hat off. I’ve got to get off to work—I’m a mill-hand on Middle Earth—but

and the prancing dive of Flosshilde or Woglinde and their weialala lifting and cradling the boat down the long, sweeping, water-smooth plane of the Rhine-slope. Sisters, ah sisters, I whispered at them past the thick crouching me-ward-looking men, Woglinde, Flosshilde, Wellgunde, where, where is Grane my horse? And they answered, tossing in light bubbles, “The horse has gone to the hero. Siegfried has Grane.” In the three rings of their diving leialala the name echoed growing as the ripples

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