“‘Good-day, Father Hollenthe.’ ‘Many thanks, Pif-paf-poltrie.’ ‘May I be allowed to have your daughter?’ ‘Oh, yes, if Mother Malcho (Milch-cow), Brother High-and-Mighty, Sister Käsetraut, and fair Katrinelje are willing, you can have her.’ ‘Where is Mother Malcho, then?’ “She is in the cow-house, milking the cow.'”
This fairy tale is absolute nonsense, and I was a little annoyed that I spent any time at all reading it (yes, I’m dramatic; don’t @ me) – at first. After Father Hollenthe gives his blessing, Pif-paf-poltrie goes to each of the people named and asks for their blessings. The dialogue repeats in about the same way throughout the tale, which only lasts until the end of the page. I took to Google to search for some explanation of this nonsense, and was quite satisfied (calmed down) by the results.
Fair Katrinelje and Pif-Paf-Poltrie is a chain, or cumulative, tale. In a cumulative tale, the plot is thin or barely existing, and the action and/or dialogue relies on repetitiveness and rhythm to mount and progress. Here’s a little more of this one (or click here to read the whole thing): “‘Good-day, Mother Malcho.’ ‘Many thanks, Pif-paf-poltrie.’ ‘May I be allowed to have your daughter?’ “Oh, yes, if Father Hollenthe, Brother High-and-Mighty, Sister Käsetraut, and fair Katrinelje are willing, you can have her.’ ‘Where is Brother High-and-Mighty then?’ ‘He is in the room chopping some wood.'”
These tales are often tongue twisting, and can be quite a performance when read aloud. Some additional cumulative tales (that are much more familiar to me) include Green Eggs and Ham, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, and Old MacDonald Had a Farm. For more fairy tales that fall under the chain tale classification, browse the 2000-2100 classifications of the Aarne-Thompson-Uther index. I’ll admit that after re-reading Fair Katrinelje and Pif-Paf-Poltrie, out loud this time and with a little more of my attention focused on maintaining a rhythm, it was a little more enjoyable, although it’s still not my favorite.
- Aarne-Thompson classification system – 2019: Fair Katrinelje and Pif-Paf-Poltrie (FORMULA TALES; Cumulative Tales; Chains Based on Numbers, Objects, Animals, or Names)