The Power of the Apple: A New Genre of the Week Series

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There is the old saying that we use in American English: An Apple a Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away. It is a it is a well-known fact that the apple is the main fruit that people enjoy eating, let using as the main ingredient for pastries, juices and salads. With its array of vitamins and minerals, the apple provides strength for the human body as well as the mind. That was probably the main reason why Johnny Appleseed during the 1820s planted and maintained hundreds of apple trees, providing new settlers with a key source of nutrients. It is a well-known fact that his motive behind his orchards was to provide unity for a young country, like the United States, as it was growing- both in size and population, but also in terms of intellect. After all, most ideas, including the creation of the Constitution and its modern form of democracy came just by having an apple ready- for consumption and for painting a prosperous future.

 

But the apple does more than just give us ideas. It strengthens the soul, providing us with inner-peace, providing us with a sense of an open-heart and mind and gives us the energy we need to love ourselves and others.

 

When you offer an apple, you offer the other a bridge to cross and a new path (and/or) idea(s) to open/improve ties and to make life better for yourself and others.

 

To offer an apple means to offer friendship

To offer an apple means to be open to new cultures, ideas and things

To offer an apple means to be open to others and their ideas and thoughts

To offer an apple also means to offer the most important lessons in life,

Such as loving your neighbor, your friends, your family and yourself,

Such as learning something new and tolerating and accepting others for their way of life

And most important showing respect and kindness towards others and most importantly,

Being decent people.

 

In the past month, as I was compiling some ideas for the Luther series in the Files, I learned that the apple can be a powerful product that can create ties and bind people together, solve problems that are complex and find solutions, and create ways to better ourselves and society.

 

While Martin Luther brought his disciples and followers together over a mug of beer- homebrewed by his faithful wife, Katharina von Bora, many authors (myself included) have found ways of using the apple for the purpose of literature, providing us with some valuable lessons that we seemed to have forgotten but are in dire need of learning about- especially in times of hardships around the globe.

Therefore, parallel to the Year of Luther and the noted works, the Files will introduce some literary works dealing with the apple and how it works wonders on society. Like in the Genre of the Week series, the works will be profiled with the main theme of how the apple is used in the context. Some like the first profile will be in a form of a book, others in the form of poems, narratives and other works. It will also include a couple from the author based on his personal experiences, one of which is tied to the works of Luther.  Between now and Christmas, you can find some works under this theme, intermingling with those of Luther and others- some of which will be posted here on the areavoices page, but for sure, you will find them on the Files’ wordpress page. It is hoped that when looking at the pieces, one will learn the morals of life, and especially how the apple symbolized unity, not just for one community or even country, but for society in general; especially with all the problems we are facing (and will be facing for years to come).

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the first piece that deals with the apple, rumors and the truth. That can be found in Mr. Peabody’s Apple, which you can click here.

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Genre of the Week: The Twelve Dancing Princesses (Ger.: Die zertanzten Schuhe)

Amanda and her 11 sisters after being discovered dancing. Photo taken during the MDR film produced in 2011. Courtesy of Nik Konietzny and MDR. Used with permission

Love: How far can a man go to win the love of the woman of his dreams? Even more so when the woman is not in love with him at the beginning? Sometimes it takes courage to even make the attempts to capture a woman’s heart. In many cases these attempts take time, patience and in the case of this week’s genre profile, a lot of curiosity to get inside a woman’s inner self, find that secret that is revealed, and in the end, the key that will open the gates of love and live happily after after.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses was one of over 300 works of literature written by the Grimm Brothers. Between 1812 and 1857, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected and wrote many German folklore tales, most of which have either been adapted to film, used in the classroom or found in many book collections found at a book store or library. One will never get an appreciation of literature, regardless of language, without reading at least three works by Grimm. Some of them were most likely read aloud by the parents without the child knowing who wrote it (click here to see the list).

The Twelve Dancing Princesses was one of the first tales written in 1815 and has since been produced in different variants, all of which are structured around the 12 dancing daughters of the king, the soldier who wins the love of the oldest, and Amanda (or Azalea) the oldest of the 12 daughters. The plot is as follows: The king has 12 daughters who have a secret that leaves him perplexed. Each of them has a new pair of shining shoes which mysteriously have holes in them the next morning, The King offers his kingdom and the hand in marriage to the eldest daughter, Amanda, to the person who can discover the secret within three days. A soldier returning from war takes up the king’s offer and is well received. His role varies from variation to variation of the book and film. In the MDR-film version produced in 2011, he was a puppeteer and an actor. In either case, he is offered a glass of wine various times by the eldest, Amanda, which he rejects indirectly by pouring it out when she left. The wine was meant to put him to a deep sleep while the girls go dancing in the night.  He later pretended to sleep in order to find out the secret of the 12 princesses. which when he does, he’s due for a surprise that is unexpected.  The explanations will not go on further as one should watch the versions below to find out how the story ended. The German versions feature both the shortened cartoon version as well as the longer version produced by MDR. There is an English version featuring Barbie, yet they are rarer to find than in the German version. In either case, enjoy the films but don’t forget to scroll down to the commentary at the end. 🙂

Die zertanzte Schuhe (Shortened version)

Die zertanzte Schuhe (lange Version) Produced by MDR in 2011

The Twelve Princesses (English Version)

The theme of the 12 Princesses is love and ways to win it, no matter what the cost and the number of rejections the pursuer faces. This was a topic of a recent discussion I had with some students at a private firm, especially as one of them had taken an interest in a student colleague of his during a project- a rather religious girl in her mid-20s living in the eastern part of Germany. When he said that she was not interested in him at all despite his attempts of even befriending her, my response was to give it time, for the worst thing a person can do is to rush into a relationship, only to find that neither partner would be happy in the end. Put love on cruise control  and let things unfold. Sometimes women can be coconuts: they need time to soften before they can be opened.   I hope he takes this advice seriously, as it appears that the person  fits the description of the eldest daughter- not interested in someone lower than her because of differences in personality, and other items unknown. Sometimes by letting things fall into place, love will blossom in more colorful ways than in a shotgun relationship. This was my experience meeting my wife during my days in college in the US, almost 20 years ago.  Sometimes it’s better off to leave it and find someone else. And sometimes, maybe that person would rather be a friend than a partner. I had those experiences and it’s also ok. It shows interest but not all the way. Sometimes if you really want to love that person  of your dreams and you refuse to give up, you might have to have to play her game in order to find her secret and what you are looking for. In either case, the main character in the story found his way to her heart by revealing more than he thought, but it came at a price, which is what you can expect from love. So in other words, be careful with who you are pursuing to love. As shown in this Grimm piece, you may end up receiving more than you expected. Sometimes the unexpected can be an everlasting one. 🙂

Love was one of the main themes that the Grimm brothers wrote about in their 40+ years of collaboration together. There are other themes that they covered, but these will be discussed later, for more of their work will be profiled in the Files in the near future. In the meantime, have a look at the film and think about the following questions:

Was/Is there a person who you are/were truly interested, yet that person was/is not interested? If so, what attempts did you make to win her love/attention? Were they successful? What could you have done differently?

Think about it and discuss it with others. Perhaps others may have some advice for you. 🙂 <3

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Author’s Note: The photo was taken during the filming of The 12 Dancing Princesses by MDR in 2011. The author would like to thank Nik Konietzny and the public TV station for its use in the article. MDR stands for Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk and is based in Leipzig/Halle, serving east central Germany.