Italian Popular Tales | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Eat, My Clothes!

Giufà is not without an occasional gleam of wit, as is shown in the following story (Pitrè No. 190, § 8), entitled:


AS Giufà was half a simpleton no one showed him any kindness, such as to invite him to his house or give him anything to eat. Once Giufà went to a farm-house for something, and the farmers, when they saw him looking so ragged and poor, came near setting the dogs on him, and made him leave in a hurry. When his mother heard it she procured for him a fine coat, a pair of breeches, and a velvet vest. Giufà dressed up like an overseer, went to the same farm-house, and then you should see what great ceremonies they made! they invited him to dine with them. While at the table all were very attentive to him. Giufà, on the one hand, filled his stomach, and on the other, put into his pockets, coat, and hat whatever was left over, saying: "Eat, my clothes, for you were invited!"

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               It is interesting to note that this story is told of no less a person than Dante, about whom cluster more popular traditions than many are aware of. It is the subject of one of Sercambi's novels, and will be found with many other interesting traditions of the great poet in Papanti's Dante secondo la Tradizione e i Novellatori, Leghorn, 1873. [1]

               Giufà was not a very safe person to leave alone in the house. Once his mother went to church and told him to make some porridge for his little sister. Giufà made a great kettle of boiling porridge and fed it to the poor child and burned her mouth so that she died. On another occasion his mother, on leaving home, told him to feed the hen that was sitting and put her back on the nest, so that the eggs should not get cold. Giufà stuffed the hen with the food until he killed her, and then sat on the eggs himself until his mother returned. [2]

               Giufà's mother went to mass once and said to him: "Pull the door to!" When his mother had gone out Giufà took hold of the door and began to pull it, and pulled and pulled until it came off. Giufà put it on his back and carried it to the church, and threw it down before his mother, saying: "There is the door!" [3]


[1] Papanti, p. 65. Copious references will be found in Papanti, pp. 72-81; Oesterley to Pauli, Schimpf und Ernst, No. 416; and Kirchof, Wendunmuth, I. 122; and Köhler's notes to Sercambi's Novels in Jahrb. XII. p. 351.

[2] Köhler, in his notes to Gonz., No. 37 (II. p. 228), cites for this story: Thousand and One Days, V. 119; Pent. I. 4; Grimm, II. 382; Morlini, No. 49; Zingerle, I. 255; Bebelius, Facetiæ, I. 21; Bladé, Contes et Proverbes, Paris, 1867, p. 21; and Bertoldino (Florence, Salani), p. 31, "Bertoldino entra nella cesta dell' oca a covare in cambio di lei." In the story in the Fiabe Mant. No. 44, "Il Pazzo" ("The Fool"), the booby kills his own mother by feeding her too much macaroni when she is ill.

[3] See Pitrè, No. 190, var. 9; Jahrb. V. 18; Simrock, Deutsche Märchen, No. 18 (Orient und Occident, III. p. 373); Hahn, No. 34; i. VIII. 267; Mélusine, p. 89; Nov. fior. p. 601; Romania, VI. p. 551; Busk, pp. 369, 374; and Fiabe Mant. No. 44.

                In the Sicilian stories Giufà simply takes the door off its hinges and carries it to his mother, who is in church. In the other Italian versions the booby takes the door with him, and at night carries it up into a tree. Robbers come and make a division of their booty under the tree, and the booby lets the door fall, frightens them away, and takes their money himself.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Eat, My Clothes!
Tale Author/Editor: Crane, Thomas
Book Title: Italian Popular Tales
Book Author/Editor: Crane, Thomas Frederick
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin and Company
Publication City: Boston
Year of Publication: 1885
Country of Origin: Italy
Classification: ATU 1558: Welcome to the Clothes

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