Thursday, June 20, 2013

Grandma Werewolf

The origins of the Little Red Riding Hood story can be traced to various versions across Europe, however, It may have even earlier origins in the Chinese tale "Grandaunt Tiger".  In the 10th century it was being told by French peasants, and by Italian peasants in 14th century. A common title was "La finta nonna" (The False Grandmother). It has also been known as "The Story of Grandmother".
These early variations of the tale are often nothing like the happy disneyfied tripe most of us know today, the antagonist is often a "bzou" (werewolf) or sometimes even an ogre. The tale is relevant to the werewolf-trials of the time (similar to the later witch trials) and has notable sexual references, not the least of which is the rampant, horny, wild dog.  Sometimes in these versions there's no "red hood" and they usually feature the wolf leaving the grandmother’s blood and meat for the girl to eat and drink.  Little Red unwittingly cannibalises her own grandmother before Wolfie asks her to remove her clothes and throw them in the fire.  In some versions, the wolf eats the girl after the implied sex, and the story ends there.  In other versions, she escapes by saying that she needs to poo and does not want to do it in the bed so Wolfie lets her go outside.
The earliest known printed version "Le Petit Chaperon Rouge" (Little Red Riding Hood), was written in the 17th century for the French court of King Louis XIV.  The story describes its subject as an "attractive, well-bred young lady".  The village girl is deceived into telling the wolf how to find her grandmother's house.  Wolfie eats the old woman, then waits for Red.  There's the whole get undressed and into bed thing before he eats her and there is no happy ending.  Except maybe for Wolfie.
In the 19th century advances in printing methods led to the rise of the children's book industry, and Victorian editors continued altering fairy tales to make them suitable for younger and younger children wherein the woodsman hero saving the day was added.  Later again, particularly in American versions, the Grandmother hides from the wolf in the cupboard.  All versions, modern and old, make the contrast between the safety of the village and the dangers of the forest and have a stranger danger theme, sometimes mixed with a coming of age theme too.  The origin of the cloaks red colour is usually taken as a menstrual blood symbol.
Here's a brief written version from some time in the early 18th century:
The Story of Grandmother (by Unknown)
There was once a woman who had some bread, and she said to her daughter: "You are going to carry a hot loaf and a bottle of milk to your grandmother.
The little girl departed. At the crossroads she met the bzou who said to her: "Where are you going?"
"I'm taking a hot loaf and a bottle of milk to my grandmother."
"What road are you taking," said the bzou, "the Needles Road or the Pins Road?"
"The Needles Road," said the little girl.
"Well, I shall take the Pins Road."
The little girl enjoyed herself picking up needles. Meanwhile the bzou arrived at her grandmother's, killed her, put some of her flesh in the pantry and a bottle of her blood on the shelf. The little girl arrived and knocked at the door.
"Push the door," said the bzou, "it's closed with a wet straw."
"Hello Grandmother; I'm bringing you a hot loaf and a bottle of milk."
"Put them in the pantry. You eat the meat that's in it and drink a bottle of wine on the shelf."
As she ate there was a little cat that said: "A slut is she who eats the flesh and drinks the blood of her grandmother!"
"Undress, my child," said the bzou, "and come and sleep beside me."
"Where should I put my apron?"
"Throw it in the fire, my child; you don't need it any more."
"Where should I put my bodice?"
"Throw it in the fire, my child; you don't need it any more."
"Where should I put my dress?"
"Throw it in the fire, my child; you don't need it any more."
"Where should I put my skirt?"
"Throw it in the fire, my child; you don't need it any more."
"Where should I put my hose?"
"Throw it in the fire, my child; you don't need it any more."
"Oh, Grandmother, how hairy you are!"
"It's to keep me warmer, my child"
"Oh, Grandmother, those long nails you have!"
"It's to scratch me better, my child."
"Oh, Grandmother, those big shoulders that you have!"
"All the better to carry kindling from the woods, my child."
"Oh, Grandmother, those big ears that you have!"
"All the better to hear you with, my child."
"Oh, Grandmother, that big mouth you have!"
"All the better to eat you with, my child!"
"Oh, Grandmother, I need to go outside to relieve myself."
"Do it in the bed, my child."
"No, Grandmother, I want to go outside." 
 "All right, but don't stay long."
The bzou tied a woollen thread to her foot and let her go out, and when the girl was outside she tied the end of the string to a big plum tree in the yard. The bzou got impatient and said:
"Are you making cables?" (defecating)
When he became aware that no one answered him, he jumped out of bed and saw that the little girl had escaped. He followed her, but her arrived at her house just at the moment she was safely inside.

No comments:

Post a Comment