Sometimes the reminder why I don 't want to read only contemporary fiction comes from unexpected places. And I decidedly don 't want to limit this notion to the so-called 'classics ' - a term that ranges between ambiguous and arbitrary - but also include all those stories which are not as widely known. Because the good ones have something to say to us, even centuries later.
The Hare of Inaba is a story about a sneaky hare, gullible crocodiles and cruel human princes that breaks the mould in the way it deals with transgressions. A lot of fairytales, at least in their original forms, tend to be places where layers, nuance and complexity are rarely found. Heroes are universally good, villains are universally bad, and the unkindness the villain receives for his or her own previous unkindness is just punishment.
A fairytale I grew up with is somewhat similar. In Mother Hulda two sisters handle the same obstacles differently and are rewarded or punished accordingly. The always good, kind and diligent (and of course pretty) sister accidentally enter 's Hulda 's realm, where she completes the tasks she is given without question, and is later directly rewarded by Hulda. The always bad, unkind and lazy sister enters Hulda 's world on purpose after witnessing her sister 's success. She, on the other hand, performs her duties only half-heartedly or not all, which leads to Hulda punishing her with being covered in pitch for life. End of story.
Duality of the Hare
The Hare of Inaba