Thursday, January 27, 2011
Tales From Silver Lands
Tales from Silver Lands is a collection of folk tales and myths from South America. Strength, bravery and quick-thinking characterize many of the tales. Some witch, giant or other type of monster comes to a land and the strong young men have to find a way to defeat the foe, often with help from old grandmothers or mysterious travellers. "For the brave one is not he that does not fear, but rather he that fears and yet does the thing that he has set out to do." (p.204) "Many there are, Na-Ha, who live not to know of the good that they do." (p. 35)
Another theme that runs through many of the stories is that the simple life and hard work are best. "This is a land where men believe in gold alone, and much blood is spilled because of it. Far better is it that men should choose that which is in the earth." (p. 25) "Little things left undone soon become big things." (p. 163) "The trouble is, you can't be happy when everything is done for you." (p. 169) In the October 2010 General Conference, Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions." (Ensign, Nov. 2101, p. 20)
Good triumphs over evil. "But evil, though it may touch the good, cannot for ever bind it." (p. 19)
Two of the stories dealt with wishing, and how our wishes can be our undoing. "Wishes are no good and he who wishes, risks. For why? Whenever you wish, you leave out something that should not be left out, and so things go wrong." (p. 127) "For you must know that no man knows the thing that is best for him and for his welfare, and many are apt to see some little things as desirable, the which in time work out for their own undoing." (p. 185)
The author, Charles J. Finger, spent time in South America. At the beginning of several of the stories, he describes the setting in which he heard the story being told. I enjoyed learning how he heard them as much as I enjoyed the stories themselves, and wish he had told how he heard each one of them.
My favorite story was "The Wonderful Mirror," probably because it seems most like the fairy tales of the West. There is a magical mirror, an evil step-mother, a beautiful maiden, a brave young man, a white two-headed toad. (Okay, the evil toad is not in any fairy tale I remember.)
One final quote to wish you all a happy day. "It is well enough to have a good cry, but it is better to be gay and have a good laugh." (p. 60)
Finger, Charles J. Tales from Silver Lands. Doubleday, 1924.