Tuesday 29 September 2020

Strong Fairy Tale Heroines #30: VASILISA THE PRIEST'S DAUGHTER

This Russian tale from the collection of Aleksander Afanas’iev, translated by Norbert Guterman, brings my series of traditional fairy tales with strong heroines to a close. There are many Vasilisas in Russian fairy tales, and most of them are strong. In the well-known story of Vasilisa the Beautiful, for example, a young woman is sent to borrow fire from the witch Baba Yaga, while Vasilisa the Wise (#17 in this series) is a magic-worker who rescues the prince from her father the Sea King. 

Vasilisa the Priest's Daughter works no magic of any kind. She simply uses wits and nerve to out-smart and rebuke an impertinently curious king. Her preferred way of life dressing and behaving as a young man is accepted by her father and raises no eyebrows among her neighbours, and she easily evades the efforts of the king – and the witch who advises him – to discover her real gender. I particularly like the trumphant note she sends him, at the end, where she compares him to a raven and herself to a falcon. That's telling him!

Those of you who've been following the series will remember similar attempts by the king and his pet lion in Grimms’ The Twelve Huntsmen #27 and by a genie and his mother in the Romanian tale The Princess in Armour #3. (Don't you love the infinite variations on themes in fairy tales?) Naturally all such ingeniously contrived tricks are doomed to fail, and why? Because they rely upon crude and inadequate stereotypes of the character and capacities of women. This is a deliberate narrative choice:  we are absolutely expected to enjoy seeing the heroines of these stories run rings around their often ridiculous male adversaries.

Still, the women of fairy tales have no real need to impersonate men, any more than the male heroes of fairy tales often resemble warriors with swords. Far more frequently, fairy tales celebrate humble protagonists, underdogs who succeed beyond their wildest dreams through chutzpah, kindness, endurance and luck. Girls and women in fairy tales are no less energetic, witty, clever, brave and persistent than the brothers and lovers they often rescue. In fact, they are often more so! 
My next post will examine one more story in close detail, before I move on to a different subject.

In a certain land, in a certain kingdom, there was a priest called Vasily who had a daughter named Vasilisa Vasilyevna. She wore man’s clothes, rode horseback, was a good shot with a rifle and did everything in a quite unmaidenly way, so that only a very few people knew that she was a girl: most people thought she was a man and called her Vasily Vasilyevich, all the more so because she was very fond of vodka. This is, as is well known, entirely unbecoming to a maiden… 

One day, King Barkhat – for the was the name of the king of the country – went hunting game and he met Vasilisa Vasilyevna. She was riding horseback in men’s clothes and was also hunting. When he saw her, King Barkhat asked his servants, ‘Who is that young man?’ One servant answered him, ‘Your majesty, that isn’t a man but a girl; I know for sure that she is Vasilisa Vasilyevna, the daughter of the priest Vasily.’

As soon as the king returned home he wrote a letter to the priest Vasily asking him to permit his son Vasily Vasilyevich to visit him and eat at the king’s table. Meanwhile, he himself went to the little old backyard witch and began questioning her as to how he could find out whether Vasily Vasilyevich was really a girl. 

The little old witch said to him, ‘Hang up an embroidery frame on the right side of your chamber, and on the left side hang up a gun: if she is really Vasilisa Vasilyevna she will notice the embroidery frame first; if she is Vasily Vasilyevich she will notice the gun.’ The king followed the little old witch’s advice and ordered his servants to hang up an embroidery frame and a gun in his chamber.

As soon as the king’s letter reached Father Vasily and he showed it to his daughter, she went to the stable, saddled a grey horse with a grey mane, and went straight to King Barkhat’s palace. The king received her; she politely said her prayers, made the sign of the cross as is prescribed, bowed low to all four sides, graciously greeted King Barkhat, and entered the palace with him. They sat together and began to drink heady drinks and eat rich viands. After dinner, Vasilisa Vasilyevna walked with King Barkhat through the palace chambers; as soon as she saw the embroidery frame she began to reproach the king: ‘What kind of junk do you have here, King Barkhat? In my father’s house there is no trace of such womanish fiddle-faddle, but in King Barkhat’s house, womanish fiddle-faddle hangs in the chambers!’ Then she politely said farewell and rode home, and the king was none the wiser as to whether she was really a girl.

 And so two days later – no more! – King Barkhat sent another letter to the priest Vasily, asking him to send his son Vasily Vasilyevich to the palace. As soon as Vasilisa Vasilyevna heard about this she went to the stable, saddled a grey horse with a grey mane, and rode straight to King Barkhat’s palace. She graciously greeted him, politely said her prayers to God, made the sign of the cross as is prescribed and bowed low to all four sides. King Barkhat had been advised by the little old backyard witch to order kasha cooked for supper, and to have it stuffed with pearls. The little old witch had told him that if the youth was really Vasilisa Vasilyevna, he would put the pearls in a pile, and if he was Vasily Vasilyevich, he would throw them under the table. 

Supper time came. The king sat at table and placed Vasilisa Vasilyevna on his right hand, and they began to drink heady drinks and eat rich viands. Kasha was served after all the other dishes, and as soon as Vasilisa Vasilyevna took a spoonful of it and discovered a pearl, she flung it under the table together with the kasha and began to reproach King Barkhat. ‘What kind of trash do they put in your kasha?’ she said. ‘In my father’s house there is no trace of such womanish fiddle-faddle, yet in King Barkhat’s house, womanish fiddle-faddle is put in the food!’ Then she politely said farewell to King Barkhat and rode home. Again the king had not found out whether she was really a girl, though he badly wanted to know.

Two days later, upon the advice of the little old witch, King Barkhat ordered that his bath be heated; she had told him that if the youth really was Vasilisa Vasilyevna he would refuse to go to the bath with him. So the bath was heated.

Again King Barkhat wrote a letter to the priest Vasily, telling him to send his son Vasily Vasilyevich to the palace for a visit. As soon as Vasilisa Vasilyevna heard about it, she went to the stabel, saddled her grey horse with the grey mane, and galloped straight to King Barkhat’s palace. The king went out to receive her on the front porch. She greeted him civilly and entered the palace on a velvet rug; having come in, she politely said her prayers to God, made the sign of the corss as is prescribed, and bowed very low to all four sides. Then she sat at table with King Barkhat and began to drink heady drinks and eat rich viands. 

After dinner the king said, ‘Would it not please you, Vasily Vasilyevich, to come with me to the bath?’

‘Certainly, your Majesty,’ Vasilisa Vasilyevna answered. ‘I have not had a bath for a long time and should like very much to steam myself.’ So they went together to the bathhouse. While King Barkhat undressed in the anteroom, she took her bath and left. So the king did not catch her in the bath either. Having left the bathhouse, Vasilisa Vasilyevna wrote a note to the king and ordered the servants to hand it to him when he came out. And this note ran:

‘Ah, King Barkhat, raven that you are, you could not surprise the falcon in the garden! For I am not Vasily Vasilyevich, but Vasilisa Vasilyevna.’ And so King Barkhat got nothing for his trouble, for Vasilisa Vasilyevna was a clever girl, and very pretty too!

Picture credits:
As there seem to be no illustrations of this fairy tale, I have chosen to use  'A prince arrived'  by John Bauer. 

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Strong Fairy Tale Heroines #29: PRINCE HLINI AND SIGNY

This Icelandic tale was collected by Jón Árnason (1819 – 1888) whose six volumes of folk tales and fairy stories were edited and published in Reykjavik between 1954-61. The translation is from Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales, selected and translated by May and Hallberg Hallmundsen, Iceland Review Library, 1987. In their introduction they comment that ‘every child in Iceland’ recognises ‘Jón Árnason’s Folktales’ – and no wonder, for they are robust and remarkable. 

‘They are written,’ say the translators, ‘in the everyday spoken Icelandic of the time when they were recorded, many of them taken down word for word as told by the storytellers – farmers, laborers, housewives, maids. … The best way to render such narratives into English, we concluded, would be in plain unadorned prose that was faithful to the meaning if not to every word of the story. So, wherever the original text is bumpy or awkward – and it is in many places – we tried to smooth it over and we did not hesitate to reshape of switch sentences around if we thought it was inducive to a clearer understanding or a more straightforward narrative.’  I have taken the occasional similar liberty with their translation: for example, sometimes changing reported speech into dialogue.

This story needs almost no introduction: it speaks for itself – but I will say that Signý’s rescue of a prince from an enchanted sleep is an interesting role reversal of the Sleeping Beauty! 

Once upon a time there was a king and a queen in their kingdom. His name was Hringur, but the queen’s name is not known. They had one son called Hlini. He was a promising lad who grew up to be a great champion, and the story has it that there was a crofter and his wife living near the palace grounds. They had a daughter named Signý

            One day the prince was out hunting with some of his men, and when they had felled a few animals and several birds and were preparing to go home, a fog descended upon them, so dense that the men lost sight of their prince. After searching in vain for a very long time they went back to the palace and told the king they had lost Hlini and couldn’t find him anywhere. This sad news greatly affected the king, and the next day he sent out a large party of men to look for his son. They searched until evening without finding him, and this went on for three days; Hlini was nowhere to be found. Sick with grief, the king took to his bed and let it be known throughout his land that whoever could find his son would be rewarded with half his kingdom.

            When Signý heard of this, she told her parents about it, asked them for food and new shoes – which they gave her – and immediately set off. She walked for the better part of a day, and towards evening she came upon a cave. Entering it, she saw two beds, one embroidered with silver and the other with gold. When she drew closer, there was the prince lying asleep in the gold-embroidered one, and she tried to wake him but she couldn’t. Then she took a better look around her and saw that there were runes scored into the wooden heads of the beds, spelling out words she didn’t understand. So she went and hid herself in the nook behind the cave door. 

            No sooner was she hidden than she heard a great rumble and saw two very large-featured jötunns, or giantesses, coming. As they stepped into their cave, one of them said, ‘Fy, fo, there’s a smell of humans in here.’

            ‘It’s only Prince Hlini,’ said the other. 

            They went up to the bed where the prince was sleeping and said, 

                        Sing, sing, my swans
                        Sing Prince Hlini awake.

            The swans sang, and Hlini woke up. The younger giantess asked him if he wanted something to eat, and he said no. Then she asked if he wanted to marry her, and he said no. Hearing that, she shouted out, 

Sing, sing, my swans
                        Sing Prince Hlini asleep.

            They sang and he fell asleep. The two giantesses then took their clothes off and went to sleep in the silver-embroidered bed. 

            When they rose the following morning, they roused Hlini and offered him food, which he rejected. Then the younger one asked again if he would marry her. He said no, and with that they put him to sleep the same way as before, and left.

            When she was sure they had gone, Signý crawled out ofher nook and said: 

Sing, sing, my swans
                        Sing Prince Hlini awake. 

            The prince woke up. He greeted her with joy and asked for the news and what was happening. She told him everything she knew and then asked what had happened to him. ‘After I was parted from my men in the mist,’ he said, ‘two giant women found me and brought me here, and one of them is trying to make me marry her.’

            Signý said, ‘You should agree to marry her on condition that she tells you what the carved runes on the beds mean, and what the two of them get up to all day.’

            The prince said he would do as she advised. Then he took a chessboard that was there, and asked Signý to play with him. They played until evening, but when dusk began to fall she told him to get back on the bed. Then she said: 

Sing, sing, my swans
                        Sing Prince Hlini asleep.

The prince fell asleep, and Signý hid herself back in her nook. Very soon afterwards, she heard the giantesses coming. They slouched into the cave, monstrous-looking as they were, and while the eldest one cooked a meal, the youngest went over to the bed, woke Hlini and asked if he would eat. This time he accepted. When he had finished his meal, the giantess asked if he would marry her. He replied that he would, provided that she tell him the meanings of the runes on the two beds. ‘Easily done,’ she said, and told him that they meant:

                        Glide, glide, my good bed,
                        Wherever I want to go.

            That was all fine, he said, but she would have to tell him one thing more – namely, what did the two of them do in the woods all day? 

            ‘We go hunting for birds and animals,’ said the giantess, ‘and when we are resting we sit beneath an oak tree and toss our life-egg back and forth between us.’

            Prince Hlini asked what would happen if it broke. That would never happen, the giantess told him, but if it did, they would both die. Hlini told her he was well pleased she had confided in him, but now, he said, he was tired and wanted to rest till morning.

            ‘As you wish,’ said the giantess.

            Next morning she woke the prince for breakfast, which he accepted. Then she offered to let him come out into the woods with them, but he told her he preferred to stay home. So the giantess put him to sleep and left with her companion.

            Once Signý was sure they had gone, she crept out of hiding to wake the prince. ‘Now let us go out into the woods where the giantesses are,’ she said. ‘Take your spear, and when they start tossing their egg, throw the spear at it and be sure not to miss, for your life depends on it!’

            The prince agreed to this plan, and they stood together on the bed, saying:

Glide, glide, my good bed,
                        Out into the woods.

            The bed took off at once and didn’t stop until they reached a huge oak tree deep in the woods. There, Signý and Hlini heard roars of laughter. Signý told the prince to climb down into the branches. He did, and there below him he saw the two giantesses, one of them holding a golden egg in her hand. She tossed it to the other, and at the same time Hlini flung his spear. It struck the egg, breaking it, and the giantesses fell to the earth and died. 

            Then the prince climbed down from the oak, and he and Signý returned to the cave. They collected everything of value, loaded it on to the beds and flew straight to Signý’s cottage with all the treasure. The crofter and his wife welcomed the couple with joy, and Prince Hlini stayed at the cottage that night.

            Early next morning, Signý went to the palace, stood before the king and hailed him. ‘Who are you?’ the king asked, and she told him she was just the crofter’s daughter from outside the grounds, and asked him what he would say if she brought back his son. The king replied that the question was not worth an answer, she would hardly be able to find his son, ‘since none of the men in my kingdom have been able to.’ Signý asked again whether he would reward her in the same way as he had promised the others, if she brought the prince home. The king said he would. 

            With that, Signý went back to the cottage and bid the prince come with her to the king’s palace, where she led him before his father. The king rejoiced to see his son, and asked what had happened to him since the time he was parted from his men. Sitting down on a throne, Hlini invited Signý to sit beside him, and told all his story just as I have done here. He added that he owed his life to Signý and he begged his father’s permission to marry her. The king gave his consent and a great feast was prepared. The wedding lasted a week, all the noblest people in the country were invited, and the prince and Signý loved each other long and well. So ends the story! 

Picture credits:

Young man and misty woods ('The Hulder That Vanished') - by Theodor Kittelsen
Signý Enters the Trolls' Cave - Artist unknown
Troll wife cooking - by John Bauer

Tuesday 15 September 2020

Strong Fairy Tale Heroines #28: 'THE HEN IS TRIPPING IN THE MOUNTAIN'

'Will you be my sweetheart?'

This story was collected by Jørgen Moe in Ringerike, eastern Norway, and published in Asbjørnsen & Moe’s Norske Folkeeventyr in 1852; it’s a good example of ATT Type 311, Rescue by the Sister. In this type of tale, three sisters set out on some adventure, the two eldest fail and the youngest rescues them: the Welsh Romany tale, The Three Sisters, #2 in this series is a striking and unusual example. In this kind of story princes do not feature, and there is rarely any wedding at the end.

The best-known example is probably the Grimms’ tale Fitcher’s Bird (KHM 46), a dark and curious tale which goes like this: a wizard kidnaps one of three sisters to be his wife, and like Bluebeard forbids her to open a particular door in his house. He also gives her an egg which she must carry about and keep with her. When the wizard is out, the girl looks into the forbidden room and finds a basin of blood and human body parts. She drops the egg and gets blood on it which she cannot remove. The wizard returns and kills her.  

The same thing happens to the second sister; the third sister, however, is clever enough to put the egg safely away before looking into the forbidden room. There, finding her sisters dead and in pieces, she gathers the parts together and brings them back to life. The returning wizard believes he has been obeyed (seeing no sign of blood on the egg) and wants her for his bride. From now on he has no power over her. 

She tells him to carry a basket of gold to her parents’ house as a dowry, but hides her sisters under the gold (feasibility has no place in fairy tales), ordering him not to rest or sit down on the way, for she will be watching him from the window. The wizard toils under the burden, but each time he tries to rest one of the sisters calls out. Certain that his betrothed is watching him, he carries the sisters and the gold to their home. Back at his house, the girl prepares a marriage feast and invites the wizard’s friends. She sets a skull in the window, wreaths it with bridal flowers, smears herself with honey and rolls in feathers till she looks like ‘a wondrous bird’, and sets off home. On the way she meets the arriving guests who greet her in rhyme as ‘Fitcher’s Bird’ coming from ‘Fitcher’s house’; the disguised girl tells them that all is ready and the bride is peeping from the window. As soon as the wizard and all his friends are in the house, her brothers and kinsmen arrive (warned by her sisters), barricade the doors and burn it down with the wizard and his crew inside. 

The Hen Tripping in the Mountain is a lot more rustic and comical than Fitcher’s Bird, and the troll is so simple and stupid and cowardly that it’s hard not to feel a tiny bit sorry for him.

There was once an old woman who lived with her three daughters way up under a mountain ridge. She was so poor she owned nothing but a hen, the apple of her eye. It was always cackling at her heels and she was always running after it. Well one day, the hen vanished. The old woman went round and around the cottage searching and calling, but the hen was gone, and there was no finding it.

            So the woman told her eldest daughter, ‘You’ll have to go out looking for our hen. We have to get it back – even if we have to dig it out of the the hill.’

            The daughter went off looking and calling for it. She went all over, here and there, but no trace of the hen could she find, till just as she was about to give up, she heard someone calling from over by the cliffs, 

Your hen is tripping in the mountain!
Your hen is tripping in the mountain!

So she headed that way to see what it was, but right by the cliff foot she fell through a trap door, deep, deep down into an underground vault. At the bottom she made her way through many rooms, each finer than the first, but in the innermost room a big ugly mountain troll came up to her and said, ‘Will you be my sweetheart?’

            ‘No I won’t!’ she said, ‘not at any price!’ She wanted to get back above ground at once, and find her lost hen. Then the mountain troll was so angry he took her up and wrung off her head, and threw her head and her body down into the cellar.

            While this was going on, her mother sat at home waiting and waiting, but no daughter came back. She waited a while longer, and then told her middle daughter to go our and call for her sister, and, she added, ‘you can call for our hen at the same time.’

            So the second sister went out, and the same thing happened to her; she went about calling and looking, and she too heard a voice from the rock face saying, 

Your hen is tripping in the mountain!
Your hen is tripping in the mountain!

            This was very strange, she thought, so she went to see what it could be, and she too fell through the trap door, deep, deep down into the vault. Then she went through all the rooms to the innermost one, where the mountain troll came up to her and asked if she would be his sweetheart? No, she would not! All she wanted was to get above ground again and look for her hen which was lost. So the troll got angry and wrung her head off, and threw head and body down into the cellar. 

            Well, when the old woman had sat and waited seven lengths and seven breadths for her second daughter, and no sign of her was to be seen or heard, she said to the youngest, ‘Now you really will have to go out after your sisters. It was bad enough to lose the hen, but it would be much worse to lose both your sisters, and you can always give the hen a call or two at the same time.’

            Off went the youngest girl, and she went up and down hunting for her sisters, and calling the hen, but neither saw nor heard anything of any of them until at last shecame up to the cliff face and heard how something said:

Your hen is tripping in the mountain!
Your hen is tripping in the mountain!

            She too went to see what it was and fell down through the trap door, deep, deep down into the vault. When she reached the bottom she went from room to room, each one grander than the other, but she wasn’t at all scared and took good care to look around her, and she spotted the cellar door and looked through it and there were her sisters lying dead! And the moment she got the door shut, the mountain troll came up to her.

            ‘Will you be my sweetheart?’ he asked.

            ‘Yes, certainly!’ said she, for she could see quite well what had happened to her sisters. And when the troll heard that, he gave her the finest clothes in the world and anything else she asked for, he was so glad that anyone would be his sweetheart. 

            But after she’d been there for a while, there came a day when she was very downcast and silent. The troll asked why she was moping. 

            ‘Oh,’ said the girl, ‘it’s because I can’t get home to my mother. She’ll be hungry and thirsty, I’m sure, and there’s no one to stay with her either.’

            ‘Well you can’t go to her,’ said the troll, ‘but put some food in a sack and I’ll carry it to her.’

            Well she thanked him for this, and said she would. But she put lots of gold and silver at the bottom of the sack, and laid just a little food at the top, and gave the sack to the troll and told him not to look into it. The troll promised he wouldn’t, and set off, but the girl peeped after him through the trap door and saw that when he had gone just a little way, the sack was so heavy he put it down to untie the neck and look inside it.  Then she called out, 

I see what you’re up to!
I see what you’re up to!

'I can still see you!'

            ‘Those are damn sharp eyes you’ve got in your head,’ said the troll, and he didn’t dare to try it any more.             
When he reached the widow’s cottage he threw the sack in through the door. ‘Here’s some food from your daughter. She lacks for nothing!’ he said.

            Now one day, when the girl had been in the hill for a good while longer, a billy goat fell down through the trap door. ‘Who said you could come in, you shaggy-bearded beast?’ said the troll in a fury, and he took the goat and wrung its head off and threw it into the cellar. 

            ‘Oh! What did you do that for?’ said the girl. ‘I could have had that goat to play with; it’s dull enough down here.’

            ‘Well don’t sulk about it,’ said the troll. ‘I can soon bring it back to life, I can,’ and he took a flask which hung on the wall, put the goat’s head back on, smeared it with some ointment out of the flask, and up sprang the billy-goat as frisky as ever.

            ‘Oh ho,’ thought the girl, ‘that flask is worth something, it is!’ So she waited for a day when the troll was out, then took her eldest sister and put her head back on. She rubbed her with ointment from the flask, the way she’d seen the troll do to the billy-goat, and her sister came back to life at once. Then the girl stuffed her into a sack, covered her up with a layer of food, and said to the troll when he came back, 

            ‘My dear friend, it’s time to take some food to my mother again. Poor thing, she must be hungry and thirsty, and with no one to look after her! But you mustn’t look in the sack.’

            The troll was willing to take the sack, all right, but when he had got a bit on the way it was so heavy that that he thought he would see what was in it. ‘No matter how sharp her eyes are, she won’t see me from here,’ he thought. But as he set the sack down to look in it, the girl who was sitting inside called out,

I see what you’re up to!
I see what you’re up to!
            ‘Those are damn sharp eyes you’ve got!’ said the troll, who thought it was the girl in the mountain who was calling. He didn’t dare try looking inside any more, but carried it to her mother’s house as fast as he could, and when he got there he threw the sack in through the door, bawling out, ‘Here’s meat and drink from your daughter! She has everything she wants!’ 

            Well, the girl waited a while longer, and then she did the same thing with her other sister. She set her head back on her shoulders, smeared her with ointment and stuffed her into the sack along with as much gold and silver as would fit. Then she covered everything with a thin layer of food and asked the troll to take it to her mother. This time the sack was so heavy he could barely stagger along under it, so he put it down and was just going to untie the string and look in, when the girl inside shouted:

I see what you’re up to!
I see what you’re up to!

            ‘The deuce you do!’ said the troll. ‘I never knew anyone with such damn sharp eyes!’ and he dared not take another peep, but staggered along to the old woman’s house, threw the sack in through the door and roared, ‘More food from your daughter! You see – she wants for nothing!’

            A few days later when the troll was going out for the evening, the girl pretended to be poorly. ‘There’s no use you coming home any time before twelve midnight,’ she said. ‘I simply won’t be able to get supper ready till then, I’m feeling so sick and feeble.’ But when the troll had gone out, she stuffed some of her clothes with straw and stood this straw girl up in the corner by the hearth with a stirrer in her hand, so it looked as if she were standing there herself. After that she hurried off home and hired a hunter to come with her and stay with them in her mother’s cottage. 

            So when it was twelve midnight, the troll came home. ‘Bring me my food!’ he said to the straw maiden, but she didn’t move or answer. 

            ‘Bring me my food, I say!’ said the troll again, ‘I’m starving!’ Still she didn’t answer.

            ‘Bring the food!’ yelled the troll. ‘Listen to what I say and do what you’re told, or I’ll give you such a wake-up, that I will!’ But the girl just stood there. Then he flew into a terrible rage and gave her such a kick that the straw flew up to the ceiling, and he saw he had been tricked. He searched high and low until he came to the cellar and found both the girl’s sisters were gone. Now he understood what had happened and ran down to the cottage crying,  ‘I’ll pay her out for this!’ but when they saw him coming, the hunter fired. The shot banged out, and the troll mistook it for thunder. He turned in fright and ran for home as fast as his legs would carry him, but just as he reached his trap door, what do you think! – the sun rose, and he burst into pieces.  

Oh, there’s plenty of gold and silver down under that trap door still – if we only knew how to find it!

  Picture credits: Art by Theodor Kittelsen