OT: Jack and the Beanstalk

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sun Sep 28 07:39:52 EDT 2003


A question raised from another list I'm on; somebody here probably knows
the answer, being as we are more children's lit oriented here than there.

In Jack and the Beanstalk, the Giant memorably says

Fi-fi-foh-fum
I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he alive or be he dead
I'll grind his bones to make my bread.

but when did he first say it?  Is it in Perrault in Samber's 1729
translation as "Mother Goose Tales", or is it later than that?  Was the
rhyming phrase perhaps introduced in the pantomime version, and when did
that first appear?  Critically, is it reasonable for a child to use it as a
threat in a book set in 1817-18, and an adult immediately to recognise it
and respond that he is not a giant and doesn't live at the top of a
beanstalk?

Help?

Minnow


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