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  • Kelly Watt

Kelly's Brand New B(ook) Log!

February 4, 2022—Book Log— Little Red Riding Hood: A Casebook by Alan Dundes.

During a poetry course on fairy tales with acclaimed poet I got really excited about researching the ancient roots and oral versions of fairy tales. I chose Little Red Riding Hood as my tale and I read Dundes’ work. His book includes many different versions of the oral tale, from the grisly French version by Perrault, and the more upbeat moralistic Grimm Brothers’ version, and the book is organized into a series of chapters by different writers exploring Little Red from different angles: psychological, historical, folkloric and literary. I loved the deep dive. I loved how an oral tale remains alive, morphing and changing throughout time, and how no one can quite explain its enduring resonance. One of my favourite chapters, was on “The Concept of Childhood and Children’s Folktales.” by Zohar Shavit. In it, Shavit points out that fairy tales were the first children’s literature and puts the tale in context. Here’s a great quote:

“Children were invited to the parlour so that adults might be amused by them: the attitude toward’s children greatly resembled the attitude toward a cherished pet. Fleury described this attitude as follows: “It is as if the poor children had been made only to amuse the adults, like little dogs or little monkeys.”

My favourite version of Little Red Riding Hood, is said to be from the Loire valley or northern Alps region, and includes a werewolf. It’s called: “The Story of Grandmother.” I wrote a poetry chapbook inspired by it, that’s looking for a home.

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