The Heart of a Monkey

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The Heart of a Monkey is a Swahili fairy tale collected by Edward Steere in Swahili Tales.[1] Andrew Lang included it in The Lilac Fairy Book.[1] It is Aarne-Thompson 91.[2]


A monkey and a crocodile struck up a friendship. After a time, the crocodile said if the monkey would only come home with him, he would give him a gift, and offered to carry him. The monkey accepted, but half way there, the crocodile told him that the sultan of his country was deathly ill and needed a monkey's heart to cure him. The monkey said it was a pity, because if he had known, he could have brought his heart, but as it was, he had left it behind. The crocodile, deceived, brought him back to get it. The monkey instantly jumped up into the tree and was not to be lured back down. He told the crocodile a story of a washerman's donkey, which was twice persuaded to meet with a lion, and so lost its life the second time — and that the monkey was not a washerman's donkey.


J. R. R. Tolkien in his On Fairy-Stories cites this tale as an example of not a true fairy tale, because while the detached heart is a common fairy-tale motif, it appears in it only as a ploy.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Andrew Lang, The Lilac Fairy Book, "The Heart of a Monkey"
  2. ^ D. L. Ashliman, The Monkey's Heart: folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 91 It originated from the Panchitantara.
  3. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien, "On Fairy-Stories" , The Tolkien Reader, p. 15.

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