examples: sittukhan from حكاية كابتن التاسعة و (the ninth captain’s tale), the woodcutter from 爛柯 (ranka, a rip van winkle variant), the lord’s daughter from sole, luna, e talia (sun, moon, and talia)
the idea of the sleeper, of somebody hidden from the mortal eye, waiting until time shall ripen has always been dear to the folky mind…the theme of the sleeper is as old as the memory of man…sleep phenomena are prevalent in medieval and renaissance fairy tales…poets, playwrights, and storytellers have spun yarns regarding characters who sleep, can’t sleep, cause others to sleep, or suffer from sleep disorders.
the arthurian legends of the medieval era are remarkable for several sleeping characters. king arthur is said to be asleep by enchantment and will return to the world someday to regain the throne of england. likewise, merlin, the wizard who helped arthur ascend to power, is said to be asleep rather than dead.
among the fairy tales that originated during the middle ages and the renaissance, many deal with sleep and magic. tales of the sandman, who sprinkled magical, sleep-inducing sand in the eyes of children, are thought to be from this era, as are the popular fairy tales of snow white and sleeping beauty. snow white was poisoned by an apple that caused her to sleep until she was kissed by a prince; likewise, sleeping beauty was magically put to sleep for a hundred years until a prince’s kiss woke her. the writers of these stories used sleep as a symbol to illustrate snow white’s and sleeping beauty’s awakening to life as mature women. the two girls are not just physically asleep; their adult wisdom, intellect, and sexuality are symbolically asleep as well.
our predecessors often viewed sleep as a mystical or death-like occurrence. modern writers have a more sophisticated understanding of sleep, and therefore tend to focus less upon the supernatural aspects of slumber and more upon the phenomenon itself.
post 755 of an infinity-part series