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The Fourth Pig

The Fourth Pig

NAOMI MITCHISON
WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION BY MARINA WARNER
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zv6mp
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  • Book Info
    The Fourth Pig
    Book Description:

    The Fourth Pig, originally published in 1936, is a wide-ranging and fascinating collection of fairy tales, poems, and ballads. Droll and sad, spirited and apprehensive,The Fourth Pigreflects the hopes and forebodings of its era but also resonates with those of today. It is a testament to the talents of Naomi Mitchison (1897-1999), who was an irrepressible phenomenon-a significant Scottish political activist as well as a prolific author. Mitchison's work, exemplified by the tales in this superb new edition, is stamped with her characteristic sharp wit, magical invention, and vivid political and social consciousness.

    Mitchison rewrites well-known stories such as "Hansel and Gretel" and "The Little Mermaid," and she picks up the tune of a ballad with admiring fidelity to form, as in "Mairi MacLean and the Fairy Man." Her experimental approach is encapsulated in the title story, which is a dark departure from "The Three Little Pigs." And in the playKate Crackernuts, the author dramatizes in charms and songs a struggle against the subterranean powers of fairies who abduct humans for their pleasure. Marina Warner, the celebrated scholar of fairy tales and fiction author, provides an insightful introduction that reveals why Mitchison's writing remains significant.

    The Fourth Pigis a literary rediscovery, a pleasure that will reawaken interest in a remarkable writer and personality.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5198-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-22)
    Marina Warner

    Reviewing a book by the poet Stevie Smith in 1937, the year afterThe Fourth Pigwas published, Naomi Mitchison opened with a characteristiccri de coeur: “Because I myself care passionately about politics, because I am part of that ‘we’ which I am willing to break my heart over, and can no longer properly feel myself an ‘I,’ because that seems to me to be the right thing for me to do and be, I see no reason why everyone has got to. Stevie Smith can still be an ‘I.’ And that’s good.” She is thinking about her contemporary’s...

  4. THE FOURTH PIG
    (pp. 23-26)

    Sometimes the Wolf is quiet. He is not molesting us. It may be that he is away ravaging in far places which we cannot picture, and do not care about, or it may be that he lies up in his den, sated for the time, with half-slumberous, blood-weighted eyes, the torn flesh hot in his belly provoking miasmic evil which will turn, as he grows cold and hungry again, into some new cunning which may, after all, not be capable of frustration by the meek. For we never know. Sometimes the Wolf is stupid and can be frightened away. We...

  5. OMEN OF THE ENEMY
    (pp. 27-28)
  6. FROGS AND PANTHERS
    (pp. 29-48)

    The God Dionysos Bacchos sauntered, flame or wave shod, the delicately tawny kid-skins dangling, a short shoulder cloak, to the level of his ungirdled slim hips. Myrtle and vine buds were the lightest garland. His lyre was of Olympian gold, which is by divine law used only for ornament and in the service of the arts and sciences, and is therefore, unlike mortal gold, not corrupting, and unlike fairy gold, not heart-breaking. He held this lightly in his left hand; his right held the plectrum, ready for inspiration. The main part of the luggage, however, was bundled up in a...

  7. THE FURIES DANCE IN NEW YORK
    (pp. 49-53)
  8. GRAND-DAUGHTER
    (pp. 54-60)

    Last week I was looking through some of the political books of the nineteen-thirties. It is queer reading those old books now, careful, angry, unhappy books in hard red covers with sad black lettering. All the authors, with their prefaces and tables of statistics and careful indexes, speak of the new times which they tried to foresee, as though it would all make a great difference to people; but they never saw what kind of a difference it was going to be. Most of the people who wrote those books were economists, poor things, or else a special sort of...

  9. THE FANCY PIG
    (pp. 61-61)
  10. THE SNOW MAIDEN
    (pp. 62-73)

    Once again the Snow Maiden was born, the daughter of January and April. Once again she was hated by the sun-god, the man-god, the god of life and potency. Once again, for her safety, her parents sent her to live amongst the mortals.

    She was boarded out at five shillings a week by the Poor-law authorities, and her name was Mary Snow. She was pretty enough to eat, blue eyes and curly hair, as yellow and shiny as a Caution Stop, whenever her foster-mother—Mrs. Smith her name was—a good old sort, and so was her man, Mr. Smith,...

  11. HANSEL AND GRETEL
    (pp. 74-89)

    Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl called Billy and Minnie Jones, and they lived in Birmingham, just like you and me. Billy was a big, lumpy, grinning boy, not quite ten, and his sister Minnie was a bit more than a year younger; because she was little and pretty and merry, she was mostly called Minnie Mouse. Their father was a mechanic, but he had been out of work for the best part of two years and had dropped out of his Union and out of the brass band he used to play in—it...

  12. BIRMINGHAM AND THE ALLIES
    (pp. 90-92)
  13. SORIA MORIA CASTLE
    (pp. 93-114)

    About sunset, a castle had been constructed upon the sands; I had, in fact, a good deal to do with it myself. Shortly afterwards I had passed over the cardboard drawbridge and under the silver-paper portcullis, nor was it until the feathery and tinkling clang of the latter, falling into place with the utmost finality behind me, had aroused my hitherto bemused senses, that I began to ask myself whether, after all, I had been wise in the decision which it seemed certain I had but lately come to. It was by then, however, too late, and on the first...

  14. KATE CRACKERNUTS
    (pp. 115-179)

    A corner of a hall in Those Days. Plain walls, a chest or two, a spinning wheel, two stools. On the stools ANN and her younger stepsister KATE, sitting and sewing in bright colours.

    Ann:

    Stepsister Kate, you sew so fine,

    Dear little stitches, all in a line!

    Kate:

    I can’t sew as somebody can,

    Stepsister Ann, stepsister Ann!

    Ann:

    Stepsister Kate, I love you dear,

    All the morning your voice I hear,

    Merry about the household ways,

    Making a pleasure of all the days.

    Kate:

    I love you and I love you well,

    This is the prettiest thing to...

  15. ADVENTURE IN THE DEBATEABLE LAND
    (pp. 180-195)

    “Where am I going?” “To the Debateable Land.” But who said it? What was I doing in this taxi with all these odd pieces of luggage, and what, anyhow, was the Debateable Land? I looked into the clock face to see how much it had ticked up and judge by that how far I had come—what station was it? But all I saw on the clock face was a notice in black and red which ticked over from line to line saying:

    “In the Debateable Land

    That lies between here and Fairy Land

    You and I may stray, all...

  16. MAIRI MACLEAN AND THE FAIRY MAN
    (pp. 196-200)
  17. THE LITTLE MERMAIDEN
    (pp. 201-208)

    It never does any good, no, never, never. I too remember Dafnia; I too remember the things that happened to her. She! She was always soft and silly, mooning about by the edges. What business has a mermaid to be like that? Any of us like to climb out on to a rock now and then, to get that lovely, dangerous sense of evanescence when the film begins to dry off one in the sun and one’s skin tingles to the air; all of us like to lie out on a yellow beach and feel the hot sand wriggle and...

  18. PAUSE IN THE CORRIDA
    (pp. 209-212)
  19. BRÜNNHILDE’S JOURNEY DOWN THE RHINE
    (pp. 213-220)

    Flames now of soft darkness were at wave lap round me, tongued and overwhelming darkness; the movement of this darkness woke me from aloof dreams into following it, into a long statement of shapes. Through the edges of shapes appeared stars, far and familiar. Between stars, crescent moon, quiet, rideable. But why think thus? Grane, I said, my horse, my horse, you and I will be careful of one another and there will be no need of other wings. Yet came no nuzzling Grane to my hand outreached for contact. What then? My spread of fingers encountered neither rock nor...

  20. THE BORDER LOVING
    (pp. 221-221)
  21. MIRK, MIRK NIGHT
    (pp. 222-246)

    It was during the seventh year that I began to become aware of where I was and why. No sudden or startling event brought these hidden things to consciousness, but rather a succession of small enlightenments. It is perhaps not well known to those on Middle Earth that we others in Fairy Land are not used to look too directly up nor down. Our eyes in downward gazing seldom encounter anything nearer to ground than the thousand clustering tops of fern and flower, ankle-height violet or primrose, and knee-height orchis or burnet rose. The trees, also, bow down to the...

  22. FURTHER READING
    (pp. 247-248)