Monday, November 06, 2006

Blue Fairy Book

I forgot to mention when I was blogging about my niece's new book that I also bought Eryn a new book the other day, The Blue Fairy Book, edited by Andrew Lang. It's part of a series of more than a dozen books of fairy tales all with a different color. I never owned one of them, although I did own the Arabian Nights Entertainments in the same series (also by Lang), a book my parents let me pick out back in the glory days of Riverplace (seriously - back when they had retail stores like a gaming store, candy shop, book store and native american artifact sort of shop). I should probably note that I had my first ever cherry Coke at Riverplace as well, when I was about 16. Not the fake kind, but the real kind that is so infinitely better. Most of those places were dead by the time I turned 18.

The great thing about the Dover fairy books is that the fairy tales, originally pulled together in 1896, have undergone no politically correct editing, which makes them fresh in their honesty about the horrible bits of life they were originally meant to embrace. For example, at the end of Little Red Riding-Hood, the story finishes, "And saying these words, this wicked wolf fell upon Little Red Riding-Hood, and ate her all up." (51). No heroic hunter. No cutting herself out of his stomach. No getting sort of "urpy", as my mother says, on sugar and spice and everything nice and puking her back up. Just chomp, slurp and gone. This seems to me to be the real outcome if a little girl in a red hood were ever to go up against an extremely hungry, anthropomorphic, wolf in pre-concealed weapon Minnesota. The whole tone of the story obviously changes when Red doesn't escape, as does what you focus on. Is the story actually just a toned down werewolf tale? Is there some significance to the fact that she crawls into bed with the wolf (no clothes) before he eats her? Is it a warning about being a lusty and wanton young wench in red?

Apparently...because when I hopped to the Little Red Riding Hood page on Wikipedia, I noticed that all those questions were actually being addressed as well as some intepretations I hadn't considered (I hadn't given any thought to equating her red hood with menstruation). Not that I need Eryn to have stories where I have to explain the possible interpretation as a commentary on child prostitution, but it's fun to have a few tales around that have layers of meaning and go beyond a sunshiney view of the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As your Aunt Arlis would say "that one sure thinks diffenently".