After reading the divine Stella Duffy’s ‘Singling Out The Couples’ which is such a modern fairy tale I had an urge to look back at the fairy tales that I loved when I was younger. Fortunately not too long ago Polly and myself had gone a little crazy (we had had one too many Sherry’s I think) in one of the late night bookstores in town and bought all the different collections of Fairy Tales by Wordsworth Classics.
I tucked myself up in bed with the delights of ‘The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood’ imagine my horror that this was not the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ by Ladybird that I had read when I was little. I mean back then she pricked her finger slept for a hundred years and was woken, along with the court and her parents, by a handsome prince who fought through thorns to find her… the end.
He didn’t then keep it a secret from his family and travel back and forth until one day his father died and he was King, then announcing his wife and two children. He also didn’t go to war and leave the mother in law Queen with Sleeping Beauty, the mother in law being half-giant and demanding she eat both her grandchildren and her daughter in law. There wasn’t a nice man who saved them all and hid them only to be found out. The prince didn’t return just as his mother had filled a cauldron with snakes and other delights over a fire to kill them all with, rescue them and chuck his mum in. Well do you know what in the original all that did happen, well it really did. I was shocked.
I felt like I had found ‘Fairy Tales: Uncut’ and as an adult I felt like I had been let into a new secret. I actually like the darker twists for example the fact that Little Red Riding Hood gets eaten and that’s that the wolf gets away scot free. I rediscovered Puss in Boots which I loved and Tom Thumb which I still don’t like along with Cinderella these stayed true to form. I also found some new ones that I loved such as Donkey Skin, The Fairies and the gore fest that was Blue Beard. Plus some new ones I didn’t like The Ridiculous Wishes which was ridiculous and Patient Griselda which Germaine Greer would hate, it makes women out to be completely stupid and that they will put up with anything.
I also liked the ‘moral of the story’ although for some of them like ‘beware the words of wolves’ were a bit vague and some of them should clearly have been re-written ‘the moral of the story is beware all mother in laws’. I have thoroughly enjoyed going back to my childhood in an odd way and discovering some more of the darker secrets surrounding some of my favourite old tales. Oh, I have just realised, I have really enjoyed some truly old classics.