Monday, March 29, 2010

The darkside of fairies

Some people grew up with Disney tales
and have built their childhood memories
and adult expectations from those
foundations . Luckily I had access to
the delightfully unpredictable earlier
versions written without a parents'
association or Victorian chastity belt.
People were killed, raped or punished
for their stupidity, naivety, foolishness,
greed, and cruelty. Princesses and
Princes had to use their wits, and
similar to Psyche or Odysseus in Greek
mythology, they never had it easy.

The Internet fortunately provides
access to various versions that differ from
the watered down 'children' stories that
have flooded the market.

Links to the darker origins of folktales.

Arabian Nights

Disney's Aladdin is a far cry from the original 1001 Arabian Night tales. A collection of Middle Eastern
and South Asian stories compiled during the golden age, there have been a number of translations
available at a local bookshop. With the upcoming video game "epic" Prince of Persia in May, try a
truly inspired experience by picking up a copy at the local library. For ebook readers there is an
Andrew Lang version offered by Project Gutenberg. It's sub par but it's a freebie.

Little Red Riding Hood

In a year or two there will be a live action adaptation called The girl with Red Riding hood by
Warner Bros starring Amanda Seyfried (rumoured). Perhaps it will be a bit darker like the original French
version by Charles Perrault?

Snow White

There have been numerous versions of this story, the most famous edition by the Brother Grimm. Many
scholars believe that the tale was influenced by historical figures. Margarete von Waldeck was an
exceptionally beautiful woman who conflicted with her stepmother. Sought after by many of the most
eligible men of her time (Prince Philip II of Spain) she fell ill under suspicious circumstances.

The Little Mermaid

Written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837, it's a tragic tale of a young mermaid who falls desperately
in love with a prince.

Sleeping Beauty

There are a number of versions of this tale, and many do not feature Sleeping beauty awakened by a
kiss but rather raped/impregnated in her slumber. Versions: "Sun, Moon, and Talia" by Giambattista Basile,
Perceforest in 1528, The Brothers Grimm version called Briar Rose, and the most retold tale "The Sleeping Beauty
in the Wood" by Charles Perrault.


Adapted onto the big screen again and again, this tale is probably the oldest. The Grimm brothers version had
the evil step-sisters cut off their ends of their feet to fit into the glass slipper, and even a gruesome end of
pigeons pecking out their eyes as punishment. The oldest version was recorded by Roman historian Strabo in first
century B.C., of a maiden slave named Rhodopis. Variants include Ye Xian, around 860 China, The Eldest Lady's Tale
from 1001 Arabian Nights, La Gatta Cenerentola in II Pentamerone by Giambattista Basile in 1635 and
Charles Perrault's The Little Glass Slipper.

The darkest version perhaps being Cinder Blower which has an element of incest.