#17 The White Snake

Hartman translation: “It is a now a long time ago [that] there lived a king whose wisdom was famous in the whole land. Nothing remained unknown to him, and it was as if he were brought news through the air of the most hidden things. He had, however, one, unusual practice. Each noonday, when everything was carried from the table and no one else was present, a trusted servant had to bring him one more bowl. It was covered, though, and the servant, himself, did not know what was in it, and no one knew, for the king did not take off the cover and eat until he was all alone…” Read more

Wilkins analysis and commentary: Hartman, in his first footnote, guides us in understanding the depth of meaning in the title of his literal translation with the following:  “There is a word-play in the title.  While weiß means white, weis-as a prefix means “knowing” as in Weisheit, “knowledge,” or Weissagen, “prophecy,” “foretelling.”  In addition, “weisek”  “wise” is very close in sound to “weiß,” “white.”  “The White Snake,” then, could be a “wise” or “knowing” snake, at least through sound association… Read more

Illustrator note: In my illustration of the Grimms’ fairy tale “The White Snake,” I chose to create the background of fabric in a “crazy quilt” design. It is of different fabrics pieced together without a predetermined configuration, and it resembles the patchwork pattern one often perceives while driving through hilly territory or flying and looking down at the landscape. Frequently the different colors, textures, and patterns of an area, when seen from a distance, look like different fabrics sewn together in a quilt… Read more