Book: Petrosinella: A Neapolitan Rapunzel

Petrosinella: A Neapolitan Rapunzel
Giambattista Basile
Tranlator: John Edward Taylor
Illustrator: Diane Stanley
1981

This is a rather interesting version of Rapunzel. The end of the story is very different from the usual version (although it does end happily ever after). The witch is an ogress in this version and is keeping Petrosinella in the tower by a magic charm on some acorns. To escape, Petrosinella has to retrieve the acorns and take them with her. After successfully escaping, Petrosinella and the prince must flee from the pursuing ogress and Petrosinella saves them by throwing the magic acorns behind her (they turn into animals and kill the ogress). I have never read a version of the story quite like this and it is interesting. I wish I knew the history of it. Basile wrote it, but I don’t know where he heard it. My suspicion is that it is a local version, since it does feel like a folk tale.

The illustrations in this book are pleasing, but not terribly remarkable. The style is like that of many other picture books. The characters have wonderful embroidered outfits and Petrosinella’s hair is beautifully done. The ogress and her friend have a very eastern European, gypsy feel and rather remind me of Baba Yaga in appearance. The buildings and backgrounds are very Italian, which is perfect for the very Italian story. I like the pictures very much. They are appropriate for the story.

This is an interesting story. I would recommend it to anyone particularly interested in fairy tales from various parts of the world.

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