If you have read the forewords of the first two tales of my Faery seriesOnce Upon a Winter's Night and Once Upon a Summer Dayyou will know my thesis is that once upon a time many (if not most) fairy tales were epics of love and seduction and copious sex and bloody fights and knights and witches and dragons and ogres and giants and other fantastic beings all scattered throughout the scope of the tale as the hero or heroine struggled on.
Bardic sagas were these, but as the minstrels and troubadours and sonneteers and tale spinners and bards and other such dwindled, and common folks took up the task of entertaining one another with these well-loved sagas, I believe bits were omitted--fell by the wayside--and the stories grew shorter, or fragmented into several stories, or changed to fit the current culture or religion or whatever other agendas the tale tellers might have had.
And so, if I'm right, the grand and sweeping tales bards used to keep their royal audiences enthralled for hours on end became less and less as the tales were spread from mouth to mouth. As the years went on, the stories continued to dwindle, until they became what the collectors of those talesAndrew Lang, the Grimm brothers, and othersfinally recorded and produced for others to read . . . or so it is I contend
pale reflections of what they once were
holding a small portion of the essence
and so on.
But guess what: they still hold audiences rapt.
They still charm.
They still are much admired by many, and certainly I am among those.
Even so, I would really like to hear some of these stories such as I have imagined them once to have been: long, gripping, romantic, perilous epics of love and hatred and loss and redemption and revenge and forgiveness and life and death and other such grand themes.
But told as a fairy tale.
Especially a favorite fairy tale.
Expanded to include all the above.
With Once Upon an Autumn Eve again I take a favorite of mine (in fact several favorites of mine woven together) to tell the tale as it once might have been told--as an epic, a saga, a story of length.
As with my other stories, since it is a romance in addition to being an adventure, once more you will find French words sprinkled throughout, for French is well-suited to tales of love.
By the bye, the best known version of the central story is but a few pages long. Once again, I thought that much too brief, and, as is apparent, I did lengthen it a bit. But then again, I claim that I am telling the "real" story, and who is to say I am not?
I hope it holds you enthralled.
Dennis L. McKiernan
Tucson, Arizona, 2006?