Frog Prince, The

The Frog Prince; A Fairy Tale for Consenting Adults by Stephen Mitchell. Harmony Books ISBN-10: 0609605453; ISBN-13: 978-0609605455

The tale of the frog transmuting into a prince is a short one. Indeed, Mitchell reckons that only 6.5 minutes are required for the telling. To this condensed version, he adds his explanations, erudition and excitement as a poet, author and translator. In his188 page version, characters and scenarios are more fully developed in addition to the story which revolves around the frog and the princess.

From his “view from the bottom,” the frog is “an unobserved observer: two large eyes dark with longing that poked through the water like two periscopes” as he watched the princess in the time-honoured fashion of the smitten and the unrequited.

The object of his desire, the princess, remained unaware of the attentions of her slimy suitor until he offered to retrieve her lost ball, but at a cost: his contract price was cohabitation. Suitably shocked at the boldness of the amorous amphibian, the educated princess resorted to her schooling in philosophy. She recalled her essay on fate and free will in which she had argued that “the very terms of the problem are delusory and that the only primary freedom is freedom from our ideas.”

The retrieval of her ball restored the princess to happiness as well as amnesia about the contract, leaving the frog to remember that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first hop.” The frog succeeded in hopping into the lives of the princess and her parents. Eventually the frog faced forceful action that would mean either death or transformation. Either way, he would change irrevocably.

As in all good fairy tales, the morals are writ large. Great transformation requires three things: a sustained period of ignorance; the enduring love of another; and the willingness to be“thrown against the wall”. In ending, Mitchell notes that the Happily ever after does not begin with Once upon a time; it begins with Now.

Now, this book I found entertaining and easy to recommend.

Mary Gavan BC
Originally reviewed in Raconteur Le Vol 10:3 Part B Spring 2006

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