Saturday, February 15, 2020

Storybook Plan

The Valkyrie Storybook

Cover of The Rhinegold and The Valkyrie by Wagner

I am going to be basing my storybook off of Richard Wagner's "The Valkyrie," a three-act opera in a four-part series. My storybook will have an introduction, and three parts, based on each act. Here is a summary of each part:

The first act consists of Siegmund running from enemies during a storm and finding shelter in Sieglinde and Hunding's home. It turns out Hunding is one of his pursuers and he says he can stay but they must fight in the morning. Siegmund is unarmed but Sieglinde reveals a sword that was left in the tree trunk for the man that would save her, and Siegmund is able to remove it. She then reveals that she is his sister but they also declare their passionate love for each other as the act ends.

In the second act, the twins father Wotan tells his Valkyrie daughter Brunnhilde to protect Siegmund during his fight, but the goddess Fricka demands that they be punished for their adultery and incest. After arguing over it, he agrees and tells Brunnhilde to let Hunding win. Brunnhilde tries to tell Siegmund that he will not win the fight and he refuses to go to Valhalla with her because Sieglinde can't come. So, Brunnhilde defies her father's wishes and tries to help him win but Wotan shows up and lets Hunding win. Brunnhilde rides away with Sieglinde and Wotan kills Hunding, swearing that Brunnhilde will be punished for her defiance.

In the third act, Brunnhilde tells Sieglinde she is pregnant with Siegmund's child and urges her not to take her life for the child's sake. She then sends her away with the shattered sword, and Wotan shows up to punish her. She convinces him to put her into a deep sleep and lay her atop a mountain, surrounded by fire and she will only awake when the bravest of heroes goes through the fire and saves her.

Because of the way this story is structured, in three parts, my storybook will be an overarching story in three parts. There will also be an introduction to explain what comes before The Valkyrie so readers have a good idea of what the previous action/storyline has been.

When I first submitted my storybook ideas, I was thinking that I would do a modern retelling. However, I have been trying to get inspired in a way to do this and haven't been successful. So, I think in my retelling I will just change a few things. I am a big sucker for happier endings, so I've been thinking I will let Siegmund live, while still keeping Brunnhilde's punishment in the story. I also am thinking about removing the incest part of the story. But I have to think of what would constitute Wotan letting Siegmund die.

As far as the message or experience I want to get across to the readers, I'm not entirely sure yet. I feel like I need to do more research to understand Wagner's source material and to understand what the message Wagner was intending for the viewers/readers of his opera.

Sources:  The Valkyrie on Freebookapalooza , the Wikipedia page

Comment Wall

Title: Brunhilde, Illustration from 'The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie' by Richard Wagner, 1910
Artist: Arthur Rackham Source

My storybook is here.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Topic Research: The Valkyrie

“Siegmund, Sieglinde and Hunding”
Painting, c. 1895, by Ferdinand Leeke


For this storybook I would do my retellings to go along with the acts of the opera, which there are three of.

The first act consists of Siegmund running from enemies during a storm and finding shelter in Sieglinde and Hunding's home. It turns out Hunding is one of his pursuers and he says he can stay but they must fight in the morning. Siegmund is unarmed but Sieglinde reveals a sword that was left in the tree trunk for the man that would save her, and Siegmund is able to remove it. She then reveals that she is his sister but they also declare their passionate love for each other as the act ends.

In the second act, the twins father Wotan tells his Valkyrie daughter Brunnhilde to protect Siegmund during his fight, but the goddess Fricka demands that they be punished for their adultery and incest. After arguing over it, he agrees and tells Brunnhilde to let Hunding win. Brunnhilde tries to tell Siegmund that he will not win the fight and he refuses to go to Valhalla with her because Sieglinde can't come. So, Brunnhilde defies her father's wishes and tries to help him win but Wotan shows up and lets Hunding win. Brunnhilde rides away with Sieglinde and Wotan kills Hunding, swearing that Brunnhilde will be punished for her defiance.

In the third act, Brunnhilde tells Sieglinde she is pregnant with Siegmund's child and urges her not to take her life for the child's sake. She then sends her away with the shattered sword, and Wotan shows up to punish her. She convinces him to put her into a deep sleep and lay her atop a mountain, surrounded by fire and she will only awake when the bravest of heroes goes through the fire and saves her.

Sources: The Valkyrie on Freebookapalooza , the Wikipedia page

Friday, February 7, 2020

Week #4 Story: The Downfall of Jupiter

Correggio (Antonio Allegri) (1489-95), Jupiter and Io (1520-40)

My name is Iona. I used to be a helpless, weak human being. Today, I am the most famous immortal there is. Years ago, that was Jupiter. He ruled over heaven and earth, and none could overpower him. Or really, they didn't try because that's how powerful he was. He wasn't a terrible ruler, per say, but he took and did whatever he wanted to whoever he wanted.

And that included me. And my friend Semalia. Both of us were just innocent young girls when he raped us. It's not like we were the first ones this had happened to. There was nothing special about us that made him choose to take our innocence. It was just what he did, in his spare time I suppose.

I was 16 and wandering in my father's field on that fateful day when suddenly mist took over the entire field. I couldn't see anything further than an arm's length away. I was so scared, my breaths started coming heavy and tears pricked at my eyes. What was happening made no sense. 

Suddenly, the most beautiful man I'd ever seen was standing before me, a shining smile on his face.

"Hello, beautiful maiden," he said in a silky voice, his eyes twinkling. 

"Who are you? Are you responsible for the mists? Are you some sort of god?" I asked, trembling slightly and debating whether or not I should back away.

"Why, don't you know who I am? I am Jupiter, of course. I have watched you from afar and I think you the most beautiful woman I've laid these heavenly eyes on."

"Oh," I gasped as I took in the fact of who was before me. I wasn't sure how I should pay my respects, I'd never encountered a celestial before. "Why, thank you, Jupiter. To what do I owe this visit though? And why must we be surrounded in mists? My father will be worrying for me."

"Why, Iona," Jupiter purred, "you needn't worry. Your father and sisters are in a deep sleep cause by me. They will only wake when I am gone and will not know what has transpired here. No one can know."

"I don't understand," I said, this time backing away a step.

"I am Jupiter, god of the sky and thunder," he said with pride and a mischievous look on his face. "I come to do what I please with you."

No, I thought. No, he can't mean what I think he means.

He meant exactly what I thought he did. That day something was stolen from me that I could never get back. And not only that, but Juno, Jupiter's wife, was furious with me. She showed up at our house the next day and threatened me if it ever happened again. I sobbed at her feet, telling her that it wasn't my choice, that I didn't want it. I begged her to protect me from her husband's advances in the future.

She left in a huff, saying she couldn't promise it.

Though Jupiter never came to touch me again, I was pregnant with his child. And, as it turned out, so was a girl named Semalia in the next village over. We learned of it through gossip, and took her in as her family had disowned her. We went through our pregnancies together, and were occasionally visited by various gods and goddesses who gave us advice and to assure us that Jupiter didn't know about the pregnancies.

We didn't want him to come anywhere near us, let alone our children. Through our talks with each visitor, we gathered that there was much animosity towards Jupiter. Perhaps enough to overtake him.

So, Semalia and I began plotting. Slowly, we tested out the waters with the gods and goddesses, to see how far they would go in admitting if they wanted Jupiter dethroned. It took some time and a lot of trust building, but eventually everyone was on board. We just had to convince Juno. Even though her husband was an adulterous tyrant, everyone knew she loved him.

Somehow, she caught wind of our idea and came to visit me only days after I gave birth to a son that I named Domitor.

"Iona, mother of my husband's child, and plotter of his death," she said in a sulky voice.

"Juno," I acknowledge, not denying her accusation. "It has been so long since you visited me. What brings you here?"

"I want to help you," she said.

"With what?" I asked, trying not to sound shocked.

"Your plan. I have heard the rumblings of rebellion and I know that you will never be able to accomplish this without me. So," Juno said with a sigh, "I commit myself to your cause. I have spent too many years in his shadow, letting him walk all over me and every other woman. But, I have one requirement. When all is said and done, I will take his place. I will rule over all. And to thank you, I will make you and your friend immortal, and your children legitimate."

And so the plan began to form as we met in secret. It amazed me what could be kept from Jupiter when so many immortals came together to plot against him.

A few months later, our plan came to fruition. Using the combined powers of so many gods and goddesses, Jupiter was held down and sent to an eternal prison. I made sure I was there at the end, so that he would know who caused his downfall. I looked into his stormy eyes, that were full of rage and confusion. I looked into them with vengeance and let a wicked grin upon my face.

Semalia and I weren't the first women he had wronged, but we made sure we were some of the last.

And Juno kept her promise. Semalia and I ascended to the heavenly realm, along with my son and her daughter Praelia. We were granted with powers and eternal life, and made our mission to help women in need of escaping the clutches of men across the globe.

Author's Note: This is a retelling of parts of Ovid's Metamorphoses stories, specifically the Io and Semele sections, found here. In the original story, Jupiter rapes Io and then to hide what he's done from Juno he turns Io into a cow. Juno claims the cow as her own, and Io is watched over by a man named Argus. Jupiter sends his son Mercury to kill Argus, which he does, and then Jupiter returns Io to her human form and she is returned to her family. A few stories later, Jupiter again rapes a girl named Semele and she then becomes pregnant with his child. Juno is so furious that she convinces Semele to ask Jupiter to prove his "love" for her by coming to her in all of his power, knowing that this will kill Semele. Semele asks Jupiter for a gift, and before knowing what she will ask he swears he will give her whatever it is. She asks, and because he can't unswear it, he does as she asks. She is killed and her child is torn from the womb and sewed into Jupiter's thigh to finish his term.

Bibliography: Ovid's Metamorphoses, books 1-4, translated by Tony Kline

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Reading Notes: Ovid's Metamorphoses I, Part A


This collection of stories about Jupiter (Zeus), some of the other gods and their dealings with humans was interesting.

I was surprised at the way it blatantly said Jupiter raped the two girls, and frustrated that Juno blamed not only her husband but the girls as well, when they did nothing wrong. The goddess Diana also blamed her follower for getting pregnant by Jupiter, when again, she did nothing wrong.

I thought the story about Paethon was sad, but I guess the lesson there was to not bite off more than you can chew, or be content with what you have. Though I didn't understand why the sisters were turned into trees at the end. Maybe to symbolize regrowth after the earth was caught on fire by the Sun's chariot. I'm really not sure.

Thinking about what kind of retelling I could do, I thought maybe something about the two girls that were wronged by Jupiter. I would like to write something that is more empowering for the women who were victims and instead of them thinking Jupiter "loved" them, they are able to do something to right the wrong.

Perhaps they could rally together the other gods to punish Jupiter for his rapist and adulterous habits, and Juno could help them. Then they themselves could ascend to Olympus and become goddesses themselves so that no man could ever touch them without consent again.

Bibliography: Ovid's Metamorphoses, books 1-4 by Ovid, translated by Tony Kline

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Reading Notes: Cupid and Psyche, Part B



Yay, I love happy endings! The second half of the Cupid and Psyche unit was admittedly less interesting just because there wasn't much mystery, but I was definitely unsure if it was going to end well for the two of them.

I liked that Psyche had to complete tasks to earn her life with Cupid, and that she kept receiving help from animals or other objects that saw the ridiculousness of Venus's actions. This story also made me see Venus in a whole new light. I always saw her as this benevolent goddess who was all that is good and beautiful, but not here.

She was the epitome of a crazy mother-in-law, and exceeded every negative expectation of one. However, she ended up receding in the end (at least I assume, it didn't really mention her role after Jupiter allowed the match).

I thought it was so dumb that Psyche tried to take the "beauty." I literally rolled my eyes at that part, and said "Really?" But anyway, thankfully Cupid came to save the day.

I think that I will retell the tasks as something that the male character's mother makes the girl do to prove she is worthy, but obviously they will be much less drastic.

Looking forward to my retelling!

Bibliography: Cupid and Psyche from The Golden Ass, by Apuleius translated by Tony Kline

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Reading Notes: Cupid and Psyche, Part A


Okay, I love this story so far! I have never read anything about Cupid, so this one was really interesting. I do feel bad for Psyche, she just wanted someone who loved her and I didn't fully understand why Cupid wouldn't let her see him. I guess it's something about he's a god and also because he was supposed to be ruining her life per his mother's orders, not being her lover at night.

I thought the bit with her sisters turning against her was interesting, it reminded me of the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella. It seems there is a common theme of sisters turning against each other in fairy tales, or even just girls in general. 

I think this is part of the story that I will use in my retelling.

I'm not sure how I would retell the deal with Cupid. They're married but she can't see him and can only be with him at night. Maybe in the retelling it could be something like, a couple that is forbidden to see each other and they only get to be together at night, and when someone, maybe the girls sisters, figures it out they try to sabotage it. 

I don't really think I will use the beginning of the story at all, the one before the actual story starts. I also don't think I'll use the whole Psyche not being sought by anyone and the parents being distraught. 

I think I'd like to set this in another time period, but I'm not sure when yet. But I think one where people were much more separated by their class than they are today, and perhaps the reason the couple in my retelling can't be together is because they are from such different backgrounds and one of their families (the better off one) wouldn't allow it. 

I'm looking forward to reading Part B! :)

Bibliography: "Cupid and Psyche" from The Golden Ass, by Apuleius and translated by Tony Kline