of rape and cannibalism.
A beautiful tale in which they all live happily ever after. Or do they?
In 1697, a French author named Charles Perrault published a classic book titled Tales of Times Passed. Today the book is better known as Mother Goose Tales.
Seven of its eight tales have become classics for children. I'm sure that you know some of these: "The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood" (Sleeping Beauty), "Little Red Riding Hood", "Blue Beard", "The Master Cat: or Puss in Boots", "Diamonds and Toads", and "Cinderella".
Perrault, however, did not write any of these stories. They were all re-workings of stories passed from one generation to the next.
These stories were actually very cruel and downright nasty in their original form. Perrault simply cleaned them up and let everyone live happily ever after.
The earliest known written version of Sleeping Beauty was actually published 61 years earlier by an Italian named Giambattista Basile.
Here is how the story was originally told:
A great king was forewarned by some wise (old?) men that his newborn daughter named Talia was in great danger. It seems that a poison splinter was in the palace's flax, and it would destroy her. The king immediately ordered a ban on flax inside the palace walls.
But, as all great fairy tales go, Talia somehow encountered a flax-spinning wheel and got that nasty splinter in her finger.
Talia dropped dead.
As a result, King Dad placed his daughter's body on a velvet cloth, locked the palace gates, and left the forrest forever and ever.
Enter the great nobleman, who turned out not to be so noble.
While hunting in the woods one day, he just happened to stumble on the abandoned palace and Talia's dead body.
One would think he kissed her at this point, but no such thing happened.
Instead, he raped her.
He planted the noble seed and nine months later Talia gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. Their names were Sun and Moon (which is the boy and which is the girl?) and the fairies took care of them.
One day, the boy was sucking on mom's finger and sucked out the poisonous flax splinter.
Talia awoke from her death bed.
Many months go by and the horny young nobleman returns to the woods to have another encounter with the princess. To his surprise, he found her alive and well.
He confesses that he is the father of her children and they enjoy a hot weekend fling in the hay (Would you have a love affair with your rapist?).
The nobleman then returns home to his wife. Somehow she learns about his illegitimate children.
The wife orders the capture of the children. Her cook is then told to slash their young throats and to cook a hash with their flesh.
At dinner that night, the wife gleefully watches her husband eat his meal. When he has finished, she announces "You are eating what is your own!".
We can be sure that the nobleman did not feel too well at that moment. But then, he did rape a dead woman, so he deserves a little suffering.
But all fairy tales must have a happy ending, so check out this one:
It turns out that the cook had a soft heart and never slaughtered the children. Instead, goat meat was substituted.
The enraged wife ordered the capture of Talia and that she be burned at the stake.
But she was saved from death by her rapist and they lived happily ever after.
I wonder why Walt Disney didn't use this version of the story? It has so much more romance than the modern version.
Useless? Useful? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
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