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La Bouillie de la comtesse Berthe

Countess Bertha's Banquet

conte/short story, pub:1845




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    Dumas père, Alexandre: Countess Bertha's Banquet - Available from amazon.com


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    " 'Do what that writing bids you!' "
    "A deputation from the cobolds"
    "Followed by a hooting crowd of … ragamuffins"
    "He took to his heels"
    "In a boat which floated … as if at anchor"
    "The poor workman rushed after it"


From Reviews (ADR) by Arthur D. Rypinski:
     Comtesse Bertha is one of several fairy tales that Dumas wrote or adapted for children, including La Jeunesse de Pierrot, and Histoire d'un Casse-Noisette. Comtesse Bertha is set in Germany, on the banks of the Rhine, in some indeterminate pre-modern fairy-tale time. The Countess and her husband are noted for their simplicity, virtue and good works. They would like to build a new castle, but they fear to disturb the elves (or dwarves) who live in the old castle, and bring them and their realm good luck. The couple are able to strike a bargain with the elves: the elves will depart from the old castle, and assist in constructing the new castle. In exchange, Countess Bertha and her descendents will give an annual feast for all the people of the neighborhood.
     The old castle is pulled down in record time, and the new castle is built (with the nocturnal assistance of the elves) in half the time predicted by the architect. (Dumas notes, in an aside, that customers should always double an architect's estimated time to completion). The Count and Countess give their annual feast for many years, until their death, and the tradition is continued by the Count's son. The Count's grandson, however, tries to escape his family obligation, only to encounter the ghost of Countess Bertha, who warns him of grave misfortune if he fails to continue the feast tradition. The grandson tries to shortchange the elves through various amusing expedients, all of which bring misfortune upon him, and he ultimately loses his kingdom to an invader.
     The invader also receives a visit from the ghost of the Countess, who advises him of his requirement to continue the feast. Instead, he employs an itinerant knight to rid him of the castle ghosts and elves. In an amusing dénouement, the invader and his knight are vanquished, the castle returns to its rightful holder, and the feast is continued by succeeding generations. (Very amusing, and recommended for children--much more accessible for modern children than Pierrot or Casse-Noisette).


From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     Another of Dumas' delightful little stories for children. It seems likely to have been borrowed from a German source, though none has been named. Quite probably Dumas here handled his material more freely than in many which he took from similar stories.
     Original edition: Paris, J. Hetzel, 1 vol.. small 8vo., 1845, pp. 126, plus one of table of contents; illustrated with 144 charming woodcuts by Bertall. (Quérard alone gives the date of the original edition as 1844. He may be correct, since the Reed Dumas Collection has a copy of the first edition, duly dated 1845, but upon the front fly-leaf of which is a presentation inscription dated 25th December. 1844.)
     It now occupies one volume in the Calmann-Lévy standard edition (with the "Aventures de Lyderic").
     In Le Vasseur's "Alexandre Dumas Illustré" it forms part of the general collection of Children's Stories gathered together in Vol. XVII.

         References :—
     Quérard: "Supercheries Littéraires Dévoilées." Vol. I., Column 1107.
     Parran: "Bibliographie d'Alex. Dumas," pp. 49-50.
     Glinel: "Alexandre Dumas et Son Œuvre," page 393.

         English Translations :—
     "Good Lady Bertha's Honey Broth;" London, Chapman and Hall, with Bertall's illustrations and coloured frontispiece, pp. 80, 1846.
     "The Honey Stew of Countess Bertha;" London, Bohn, square 12mo., 1846.
     "The Honey Stew of Lady Bertha," translated by Mrs. Cooke Taylor, illustrated, pp. xiv., 85 ; London, Jeremiah How, 1846. 16mo.
     "The Honey Stew of the Countess Bertha," in "Prince Darling Story Book," edited by Andrew Lang; London, Longman, 1890.
     This story is also included in H. A. Spurr's "Dumas Fairy Tale Book," under the title of "Countess Bertha's Honey Feast;" London, Warne, illustrations in colour and black and white by Harry Rountree, pp. xviii., 291,1924.


From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     (CXXVII.) Chapter IV. Three four-line stanzas, rhyming a, b, a, b.
     (CXXVIII.) Chapter IX. Three six-line stanzas, rhyming a, a, b, c, c, b.
     (CXXIX.) Chapter XIII. One stanza, rhyming a, b, a, b.

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