02 December 2011

The Golden Duck of Warsaw and Brewster's Millions

I love reading to my children bedtime stories.  But often times, there are only so many stories I can read to them before we are essentially retelling the same stories over and over in different versions.

Polish fairy tales are boundless and there are countless stories, if you can find them translated from Polish to English or can read Polish.

I remembered a story from my childhood about a golden duck and dug through my countless books about Poland and the various fairy tales I have from Poland. 

I found the story.  It's called the Legend of the Golden Duck of Warsaw (Złota kaczka).

The short version of the legend is that under the cellar of Warsaw's Ostrogski Castle, there is a golden duck which guards a treasure.  The finder can keep all the treasure if he or she can spend all of a certain amount of money on himself down to the last coin, all within a certain period of time. 

One popular version tells of a man who was lucky enough to find the Golden Duck, received the money for spending and was successful.  Until he had one coin left and gave it to a poor beggar and thus, with his generosity, lost the treasure.

I never really noticed before that the story reminds me of Brewster's Millions.  There are several film versions of the movie but they are all based on the 1902 book by George Barr McCutcheon. 

George Barr McCutcheon also wrote several novels based in  "Graustark, a fictional East European country" and Poland and Polish characters are regularly used in prominent and smaller characters throughout his novels.  McCutcheon was born in Indiana, which at the time had some Polish immigrants living there. 

Did McCutcheon have Polish ancestry?  I do not know.  It's certainly possible and it's also possible he wasn't.

It is also possible that McCutcheon might have learned of the Legend of the Golden Duck of Warsaw from nearby Polish immigrants living in Indiana.

I would love to learn if there is a direct correlation but for now, I will take it as a definite similarity between the two beautiful stories.

What do you think?

And, if you understand Polish or would still like to hear some, a video from Polish theatre of the Golden Duck of Warsaw.

Other Links Related to the Legend:

The Legend of the Golden Duck

The Golden Duck of Ostrogski Castle

Wikipedia's post on Złota Kaczka

Other Links Related to the Novel:

Wikipedia's post on Brewster's Millions

1 comment:

Antoinette said...

Wow thanking you much for sharing.You write so beautifully. I look forward to the say when my husband shares his Polish childhood fairytails with our (future) children!