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The Folktale Project

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Who says you're too old for a good fairy tale? Reading original versions of folktales and fairy tales from around the world every Monday through Friday, this podcast is for everyone who has a love of the mystery that surrounds us and the ways we try to explain it.

Who says you're too old for a good fairy tale? Reading original versions of folktales and fairy tales from around the world every Monday through Friday, this podcast is for everyone who has a love of the mystery that surrounds us and the ways we try to explain it.
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Who says you're too old for a good fairy tale? Reading original versions of folktales and fairy tales from around the world every Monday through Friday, this podcast is for everyone who has a love of the mystery that surrounds us and the ways we try to explain it.




The Hares and Frogs in a Storm

Upon a great storm of wind that blew among the trees and bushes, and made a rustling with the leaves, the Hares (in a certain park where there happened to be plenty of them) were so terribly frighted, that they ran like mad all over the place, resolving to seek out some retreat of more security, or to end their unhappy days by doing violence to themselves.


The Flute

Long since, there lived in Yedo a gentleman of good lineage and very honest conversation. His wife was a gentle and loving lady. To his secret grief, she bore him no sons. But a daughter she did give him, whom they called O’Yoné, which, being interpreted, is “Rice in the ear.” Each of them loved this child more than life, and guarded her as the apple of their eye. And the child grew up red and white, and long-eyed, straight and slender as the green bamboo. When O’Yoné was twelve years...


The Good Thunder

Folks say that Rai-den, the Thunder, is an unloving spirit, fearful and revengeful, cruel to man. These are folks who are mortally afraid of the storm, and who hate lightning and tempest; they speak all the evil they can of Rai-den and of Rai-Taro, his son. But they are wrong. Rai-den Sama lived in a Castle of Cloud set high in the blue heaven. He was a great and mighty god, a Lord of the Elements. Rai-Taro was his one and only son, a brave boy, and his father loved him. In the cool of...


The Black Bowl

Long ago, in a part of the country not very remote from Kioto, the great gay city, there dwelt an honest couple. In a lonely place was their cottage, upon the outskirts of a deep wood of pine trees. Folks had it that the wood was haunted. They said it was full of deceiving foxes; they said that beneath the mossy ground the elves built their kitchens; they said that long-nosed Tengu had tea-parties in the forest thrice a month, and that the fairies’ children played at hide-and-seek there...


Truthful Joseph

Once upon a time there was a mother who had a son named Joseph; and because he never told a lie she called him Truthful Joseph. One day when she was calling him, the king happened to pass by, and hearing her call him thus, asked her: "Why do you call him Truthful Joseph?" "Because he never tells a lie." Then the king said that he would like to have him in his service, and set him to keeping his cows.


The Ass

It is related that when the Lord created the world, he also made all the animals, and gave each its name. He also created the ass, which said: “Lord, what is my name?” “Your name is ass!” The ass went away well pleased. After a while it forgot its name, and went back to the Lord. “Lord, what is my name?” “Ass!”


The Parrot

There was once a merchant who had a beautiful daughter, with whom the king and the viceroy were both in love. The former knew that the merchant would soon have to depart on business, and he would then have a chance to speak with the girl. The viceroy knew it, too, and pondered on how he could prevent the king succeeding in his plan. He was acquainted with a witch, and promised her immunity and a large sum of money if she would teach him how to change himself into a parrot. This she did,...


The White Duck

Once upon a time a great and powerful King married a lovely Princess. No couple were ever so happy; but before their honeymoon was over they were forced to part, for the King had to go on a warlike expedition to a far country, and leave his young wife alone at home. Bitter were the tears she shed, while her husband sought in vain to soothe her with words of comfort and counsel, warning her, above all things, never to leave the castle, to hold no intercourse with strangers, to beware of...


The Bear, The Boar, and The Fox

A Bear, a Boar, and a Fox once went into partnership to till a field and raise some wheat, that they might earn their bread honestly. Said the Boar, “I will break into a granary and steal the seed, and with my snout I will plough up the field.” “I will be the sower,” said the Bear; and Reinecke added, “I will spread the earth over the seed with my tail.” So the field was ploughed and the seed sown. By and by came harvest-time, and the friends took counsel together as to the reaping. Said...


The Smith and The Devil

Once upon a time there was a smith who had a son six years old—a sturdy and sensible lad. One day the old man was going into the church, and stood in front of a picture of the Last Judgment. And he saw there was a devil painted there so terrible, so black, with horns and tail! "What a fine devil!" he thought. "I will go and paint such a devil for myself in the smithy." So he sent for a painter and told him to paint on the doors of the smithy a devil who should be exactly the same as the...


The Pen and The Inkstand

In a poet's room, where his inkstand stood on the table, the remark was once made: "It is wonderful what can be brought out of an inkstand. What will come next? It is indeed wonderful." "Yes, certainly," said the inkstand to the pen and to the other articles that stood on the table; "that's what I always say. It is wonderful and extraordinary what a number of things come out of me. It's quite incredible, and I really never know what is coming next when that man dips his pen into me. One...


The Greenies

A rose tree stood in the window. But a little while ago it had been green and fresh, and now it looked sickly—it was in poor health, no doubt. A whole regiment was quartered on it and was eating it up; yet, notwithstanding this seeming greediness, the regiment was a very decent and respectable one. It wore bright-green uniforms. I spoke to one of the "Greenies." He was but three days old, and yet he was already a grandfather. What do you think he said? It is all true—he spoke of himself...


A Leaf From The Sky

High up yonder, in the thin clear air, flew an angel with a flower from the heavenly garden. As he was kissing the flower, a very little leaf fell down into the soft soil in the midst of the wood, and immediately took root, and sprouted, and sent forth shoots among the other plants. “A funny kind of slip that,” said the plants. And neither thistle nor stinging-nettle would recognize the stranger. “That must be a kind of garden plant,” said they. And they sneered; and the plant was...


The Listening King

Once upon a time there lived a king who liked to walk in disguise about the streets of the city, listening at people's doors. It was, in fact, his favorite amusement. Other kings of that land had been fond of war or hunting or fishing or games, but there had never before been one who liked to listen at doors. For this reason he was called "the listening king." "It is the greatest fun I have," he often said to his counsellors. "Being a king would be a stupid life if one didn't have some...


Lady Clare

Lady Clare was in her garden overlooking the sea. It was a summer’s day, and the many coloured butterflies flitted about under the trees and among the sweet smelling flowers. Lady Clare was combing her golden tresses with an ivory comb, seated on a crimson velvet cushion. She looked towards the sea, and she saw a gallant fleet making for the land. He who was in command stepped on shore. He was a belted knight, but his features could not be seen as his vizor was down. Approaching Lady...


The History of Jack the Giant-Killer

In the reign of the famous King Arthur there lived in Cornwall a lad named Jack, who was a boy of a bold temper, and took delight in hearing or reading of conjurers, giants, and fairies; and used to listen eagerly to the deeds of the knights of King Arthur’s Round Table. In those days there lived on St. Michael’s Mount, off Cornwall, a huge giant, eighteen feet high and nine feet round; his fierce and savage looks were the terror of all who beheld him. He dwelt in a gloomy cavern on the...


Princess of Canterbury

There lived formerly in the County of Cumberland a nobleman who had three sons, two of whom were comely and clever youths, but the other a natural fool, named Jack, who was generally engaged with the sheep: he was dressed in a parti-coloured coat, and a steeple-crowned hat with a tassel, as became his condition. Now the King of Canterbury had a beautiful daughter, who was distinguished by her great ingenuity and wit, and he issued a decree that whoever should answer three questions put to...


The Golden Arm

Here was once a man who travelled the land all over in search of a wife. He saw young and old, rich and poor, pretty and plain, and could not meet with one to his mind. At last he found a woman, young, fair, and rich, who possessed a right arm of solid gold. He married her at once, and thought no man so fortunate as he was. They lived happily together, but, though he wished people to think otherwise, he was fonder of the golden arm than of all his wife’s gifts besides. Host Dan...


Old Esther Dudley

Boston had surrendered. Washington was advancing from the heights where he had trained his guns on the British works, and Sir William Howe lingered at the door of Province House,—last of the royal governors who would stand there,—and cursed and waved his hands and beat his heel on the step, as if he were crushing rebellion by that act. The sound brought an old woman to his side. “Esther Dudley!” he exclaimed. “Why are you not gone?”


George Washington's Vision

The last time I ever saw Anthony Sherman was on the Fourth of July, 1859, in Independence Square. He was then ninety-nine years old, his dimming eyes rekindled as he gazed upon Independence Hall, which he had come to visit once more. "I want to tell you an incident of Washington's life one which no one alive knows of except myself; and which, if you live, you will before long see verified." He said, "From the opening of the Revolution, we experienced all phases of fortune, good and ill....