Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Iacob Desideriu - Harap Alb illustrations

Harap Alb is one of the most enduring Romanian fairy tale written by Ion Creanga. It is definitely a subject to give headaches and sleepless nights to the ones preparing to take their  Baccalaureate exams in Romanian literature. Iacob Desideriu gives a wonderful visual concept to this fairy tale. I translated to English its summary, and if you happen to read this post, please check the illustrations attached. They are worthy of your time.

Once upon a time there were two brothers, the Green-King and the Gallant  King. They lived  at the two ends of the world without seeing each other.  The eldest reaching old age without male descendants  wrote to his brother asking him to send him one of his three sons, to be heir to his throne.

The two eldest sons of the Gallant King wanted to go, but every time their  father, dressed in a  bearskin, waited for them under a bridge.  At the sight of the bear both brothers ran for their life back to the castle.

One day, the youngest son, called Harap Alb met an old beggar woman in his father’s gardens.  He took pity on her and offer her some money. The woman was in fact the  Holy Sunday and advised him to leave for the Green-King's court, but only after he asked his father for the very horse and sword he used in his youth.

The young prince  subjected the horse to the embers test, cleaned the rust  of his father sword  and prepared himself  for departure, not before hearing  his father advice to  stay out of the way of the Red Man, and especially the Hairless Man.

On his way through the forest Harap Alb met the Beardless Man three times and every time the Hairless Man offered to be his servant. The third time the young man accepted the offer. Soon after the Hairless Man convinced Harap Alb to descend into a well to cool, but immediately slammed the lid and forced him to become his servant in stead.

As his servant Harap Alb is subjected to three tests: to bring the Salad from the Bear’s Garden, to bring the skin of the enchanted stag, and to steal the Red Emperor’s daughter.
In his last attempt Harap Alb becomes friends with Frost White, Always Hungry, Ever Thirsty, Wise Eyes and Birds Wide the Long. Together with them and the help of  Holy Sunday,  the ants, the  bees and his Enchanted Horse, Harap Alb manages to beat all the obstacles.

The fabulous five friends help Harap Alb to bring the Red Emperor’s daughter to the Green-king's court. There they are welcomed with full honors, and the princess  reveals that Harap Alb is the true grandson of the Green Emperor and not the Beardless Man, as supposed. Exposed, the Hairless Man quickly  cuts off the  head of Harap Alb, but sprinkled quickly  with living and dead  water he resurrects, as if waking up after a heavy sleep.

The Hairless Man is killed by the Enchanted Horse and Harap Alb marries the Red Emperor’s daughter.

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