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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway ~ The Gruesome History of Little Red Riding Hood ~ guest post from Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles (blog tour)



The Gruesome History of Little Red Riding Hood

By Marissa Meyer


Once upon a time, there was a nice young woodsman who stumbled across a sleeping big bad wolf. Thinking surely this wolf was up to no good, the woodsman decided to cut open the wolf’s stomach with his axe—and lo and behold! Out popped a little girl in a red cape and her grandmother, both alive and well. After a fair amount of rejoicing at their miraculous rescue (and the fact that the wolf didn’t chew his food very well), they filled up the wolf’s stomach with rocks and sewed him back up. When the wolf awoke, he was so heavy that he couldn’t even walk, and he fell down dead.

Chances are, if you grew up reading fairy tales or having them read to you, your version of Little Red Riding Hood ended something like that. Heroic woodsman (or hunter). Dead wolf. Rescued little girl and grandmother.

But as with most fairy tales, the history of the story goes back farther than many of our children’s books acknowledge, and there have been countless versions of this story told and retold for hundreds of years.

In the research I did for writing SCARLET: Book Two of the Lunar Chronicles, I read my share of old versions of Little Red Riding Hood, and I was quite surprised to find that some elements of the old stories were even creepier than cutting off one’s toes to squeeze into a fancy shoe. (Yes, that was a Cinderella reference. I couldn’t help it!)

Not that popping out of a wolf’s stomach isn’t eerie enough, but even that’s pretty tame compared to things like…

CANNIBALISM
In some versions of the tale, after the wolf has devoured the Grandmother (or perhaps… while he’s devouring her? I’m not sure of the logistics here…), he put her blood into a wine decanter and wrapped up her organs and put them into the pantry. When Little Red showed up and complained of hunger, what do you suppose he offered her to eat and drink? In fact, one version of the story takes it a step further by specifying which parts the girl was eating, including the old woman’s intestines, teeth, and jaws.

Ew, right?

Although, cannibalism aside, I actually like this version of the tale, because after Little Red has eaten her grandmother’s flesh, she recognizes the wolf for what he is and outsmarts him by complaining that she needs to use the bathroom. As this was before indoor plumbing, she was able to run outside and get away. What can I say? There aren’t too many tales in which girls are able to rescue themselves, so this one appeals to me.


STRIP-TEASES
It’s probably not much of a surprise to many readers that this tale comes with a thinly-veiled warning. Little Red = innocent little girl. Big Bad Wolf = male predator. Moral = don’t talk to strangers or bad things will happen to you.

Well, one version of the tale makes the sexual connotations even more blatant when the wolf, dressed up as the grandmother, asks Little Red to come into bed with him. But oh, one can’t just hop into bed fully dressed, can they? So the tale commences with a literal strip-tease in which the reader is given an itemized account of the little girl’s wardrobe as each piece is tossed into the fire (because, according to the wolf, she “won’t need them anymore”). *shudders*

WHOLESOME LITTLE MORALS
The first recorded version of this tale came from Charles Perrault in 1697, and Mr. Perrault had a knack for being, well… depressing. Although his version of the tale isn’t the most gruesome, I find the moral he includes at the end of the tale (after both Little Red and her grandmother are gobbled up and the wolf goes on his merry way) to be creepy in its own right:

“Moral: Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf.”

He continues on to warn about how even the most sweet, gentle, kind men—er, wolves—are not to be trusted. So essentially, marry the man your father chooses and be happy about it? Hmmmm…

(To be fair, it was 1697.)


If you’re interesting in reading some of these versions of the tale, I suggest the sources below.

Or, if you want to read an all-new version of Little Red as a spaceship pilot, well… I hope you’ll enjoy SCARLET!

Additional Reading

SurLaLune Fairy Tales: The Annotated Little Red Riding Hood: http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/ridinghood/index.html

Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale by Catherine Orenstein: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/114476.Little_Red_Riding_Hood_Uncloaked



****GIVEAWAY****
Thanks to the awesome folks at Macmillan, I have a shiny giveaway for you: a paperback of Cinder and a shiny, pretty hardcover of Scarlet!! To enter, fill out the rafflecopter below. Open to residents of US and CAN only, ends February 5th at midnight, EST. Full rules and regulations can be found in the Rafflecopter Terms.
Good luck!!
And make sure to check out my review of Scarlet!


THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED, BUT YOU CAN ENTER TO WIN BOTH BOOKS IN FAIRY TALE FORTNIGHT!! 
(You can still leave Marissa some love, too!)








Can't get enough of the Lunar Chronicles?
Check out the accompanying short stories, Glitches and The Queen's Army, catch Marissa on tour, or become a Facebook fan!
Haven't checked out The Lunar Chronicles yet? Download the first 5 chapters of both Cinder and Scarlet!

And check out the rest of the blog tour stops!

80 comments:

  1. So many of the early elements were truly horrific. And I have to say I've enjoyed that the Lunar Chronicles have retained a hint of that horror.

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  2. I just recently read Cinder and am very, very, very much looking forward to Scarlet! :) I have heard of some of those tales, not all but enough to know that they are gruesome and awful and all manner of things. I actually can't fathom reading them to my children.

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  3. Im looking forward to Scarlett because Cinder was so good I need to know whats next :)

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  4. my favorite fairy tale is the little mermaid for it is quite sad especially all the pain she had to endure because of love

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  5. i have yet to read cinder but heard it was amazing from all the reviews can't wait to get my hands on it

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  6. I love how the books in this series retain some the eerie-ness of the original stories. I love me some Disney retellings, but a girl needs some darkness in her life occasionally.

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  7. As an English Teacher I enjoy telling students the non-Disneyfied versions of Fairy Tales as a way of introducing them to the idea that stories are morphed over time to suit different purposes. Cinder, and I presume Scarlet, are a continuation of that tradition.

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  8. I thought Cinder was okay, mostly because my expectations were super high because of all the hype surrounding it. I liked it and I'm looking forward to Scarlet, but this time I won't get so caught up in the hype.

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  9. I love this series so far!!! Cannot bloody wait for Scarlet :D Also, my favorite fairy tale is Snow White!!

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  10. Wow. I never knew Little Red Riding Hood had a history of such gruesome retellings. Scary and weird stuff there.

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  11. I am looking forward to reading this series! I haven't yet read Cinder, but I see I can download the first 5 chapters here, so that's my plan today! :)

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  12. I'm looking forward to this series, because I love fairy tale retellings!

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  13. I think Beauty and the Beast may be my favorite tale! But I love all the others too! I can't wait for Scarlet! *sends all the love*

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  14. Ooooh I cannot WAIT for Scarlet! I loved Cinder dearly and have been recommending it to all my reader friends.

    Very cool post on the little red variations. I've come across those in my reading and research but it's nice to see them side by side and with a little more audience! I can't wait to see which and what Meyer incorporates into the new book. I just... love this series and every time I read her writing ABOUT the series I get more intrigued and more excited for the upcoming books!

    I think I can only end this entry with *fangirl squee!!*

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  15. I have been looking forward to Scarlet since I read the last page of Cinder! The characters pulled me right in and I'm dying to find out what happens next.

    I remember reading the original Little Red Riding Hood as a child and being absolutely terrified!

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  16. Meyer has made such creative and fresh twists to familiar fairy tales--I like her stuff even better than the twists they've done on Once Upon a Time. I LOVED Cinder (which I only read, at first, to support a published NaNoWriMo author) and am so excited that Scarlet is almost here!!!

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  17. I tracked Cinder months before it came out and for good reason. So excited for Scarlet!

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  18. Okay so molestation...not something you should take to kids about directly nor should stripe tese be in a KIDS book!! i got hte just of stangers without rape....

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  19. Loved Cinder! I can't wait to see what Marissa does with another fairy tale retelling in Scarlet! Great unexpected twists!

    Thanks,
    Leanne

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  20. Never new this about little red ridding hood. I'm very excited to read Scarlet :-)

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  21. I'm looking forward to Scarlet just because it's a follow-up to Cinder. I bet it's just as good. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  22. I cannot wait until Scarlet comes out XD I am counting the days till this book XD

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  24. I find it rather interesting that it seems many of the fairy tales we tell children started out with such gruesome details. I had no idea one of the original versions of Little Red Riding Hood contained cannibalism. But I am much looking forward to Marissa Meyer's version, as I love retold fairy tales and Marissa Meyer is a good story teller. I loved Cinder!

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  25. We have an old book of Russian fairy tales, and in one of them, there's this stupid boy who never does anything right. He's supposed to keep the sheep together, but they keep wandering off - so he gouges out their eyes. Great story :]

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  26. I loved Cinder and can't wait for Scarlet! As much as I enjoy the Disney fairytales I do love the original fairytales because they teach real lessons. The Little Mermaid is probably my favourite because the ending is so tragic.

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  27. One of the first gruesome fairy tales I heard was the one about Cinderella. The step sisters were so desperate to win the prince that they cut off parts of their feet (toes for one and heel for the other) so that their feet could fit in the shoe. Eventually, the prince realized their feet were bleeding and went back. The other creepy part of the story was when these birds picked out the eyes of stepsisters while they were on the way to the wedding. Creepy, but an interesting twist.


    And I can't wait until Scarlet!! :)

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  28. Woah. I didn't know about all those other Red Riding Hood versions.

    I LOVED reading Cinder and would love to get a copy of Scarlet! Can't wait for it to be released!

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  29. loved cinder so can't wait to see what happens next

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  30. I am not only looking forward to Scarlet (because I've read so many fantstic reviews/excerpts) but Cinder as well because I havent had the pleasure of devouring that one yet. :) though it is on my TBR list !
    oddball2003 at hotmail dot com

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  31. I loved Cinder and I can't wait for Scarlet!

    My favorite fairytale is the Wild Swans, where the poor girl is forced to endure accusations of cannibalism in silence to protect her brothers. Bluebeard is another good gruesome one...

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  32. Those fairy tales weren't for the faint of heart, that's for sure. I always liked Snow White and Rose Red.

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  33. Oh, I am all about those darker fairy tales. I read The Grimm's Fairy Tales in middle school and fell in love. There's no way to pick just one.

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  34. Fairy tales aren't for the faint of heart! These are both on my TBR list.

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  35. I'm looking forward to Scarlet because Little Red Riding Hood is one of my favorite fairy tales/stories.

    Thanks for the post and the giveaway!

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  36. I love reading all different takes on the fairy tales .As they say variety is the spice of life .Really look forward to reading this .Have a wonderful day.

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  37. Gah! All I can think of is Red eating her Grandmother's intestines. Yuck! I can't think of any of the truly yucky parts of the classic fairy tales. Some of them are so disturbing.

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  38. I love Snow White, but originally the huntsman was supposed to cut out her liver and lungs for the Queen's dinner. Yuk!

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  39. Gosh these older tales are crazy. I never heard that version of Cinderella before. Cinderella was always my favorite, so I will have to go back and find that story.

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  40. I love fairy-tale re-tellings & Cinder was one of my absolute favorites! I can't wait to read Scarlet. : )

    Thanks for the giveaway.

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  41. I'm amused that as gory as people often say the Grimms' tales are, those were actually cleaned up! They turned biological mothers into stepmothers and so on to make the stories less terrifying.

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  42. I love fairy tales and I love them being done in another way. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me. Tore923@aol.com

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  43. I have always been a huge fan of the grittier fairy tales. I'm sure that must say something about my personality :) Thanks so much for the giveaway.

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  44. There are so many excellent gruesome elements in faery tales: finger bones as keys, axing wolf tummies open, chopped-up lovers miraculously restored. I think the surrealism and oft-nonsensical nature of faery tales enables me to enjoy these things, to shudder delicious shudders. 'Cuz under other circumstances, that sort of thing just creeps me out. :) I can't even watch horror films, but give me a dark, mysterious faery tale, or retelling, and I'm delighted.

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  45. Can't wait to read it, I'm sure it won't disappoint!!!!

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  46. I haven't read Cinder yet, but I've been dying to based on all the great reviews!

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  47. My favorite "grimm" fairytale is probably Cinderella, or Snow White. And I cannot wait for Scarlet -- I've wanted to find a way to get my grubby hands on it from the moment I finished Cinder.

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  48. I just think it sounds like a cool re-imagining of Red Riding Hood and the wolf :)

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  49. I LOVED Cinder so of course I am ready for Scarlet!!

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  50. if you do research into the original grimm tales they are amazingly horrific which is awesome. some of them not only come from local folklore but some are parts of myths. im a huge fairy tale fan.

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  51. My favorite is Snow white, this is also the only one that I have read the original Grimm fairy tale.

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  52. So the stripping thing is really weirding me out. The different layers in each of these fairy tales never cease to amaze me.

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  53. I love your covers and how you always make time for your readers.

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  54. I loved Cinder and I'm excited to read Scarlet! I'm patiently waiting for Feb 5 but now I kind of want to whip out my fairy tales books and read a few of them until next tuesday (my fav is probably The Little Mermaid, or "La Petite Ondine" as it's called in my French translation)! Thanks for doing a giveaway, Misty!

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  55. I love how gruesome nearly all fairy tales truly are. The things we wouldn't dream of exposing our to now pale in comparison to what was once commonly shared as an entertaining story for the family huddled around the wood stove.

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  56. I an not wait until Tuesday for Scarlet! So excited

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  57. I was raised on the Grimms, so I got the gruesome stuff early. My favorite was the Goose Girl, whose horse was murdered and had its head mounted on the gates, whence it continued to encourage the Goose Girl, no doubt very cheerfully.

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  58. I am reading Cinder now and enjoying it and hope to see what Scarlet is all about soon! Thanks for the chance to win!

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  59. I'm reading cinder and if it's good i might read scarlet!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  60. I adored Cinder- I can't wait for Scarlet (and all the other books in the series)!

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  61. My favorite fairytale is Hansel and Gretel, I remember wanting to read the story over and over again. But I think it was the candy that really appealed to me! And ever since I read Cinder I have been waiting and hoping to read Scarlet as soon as possible. Marissa Meyer is such a talented author and I can't wait to read Scarlet! :)

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  62. I really love any kind of fairy-tale retellings. I haven't yet read Cinder, but I've been wanting to. I've heard so many good things about it. :)

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  63. I loved Cinder. Meyer's creative storytelling and world building just drew me in. I can't wait for Scarlet!

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  64. I really liked Cinder so I cannot wait to find out what happens in Scarlet!

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  65. in the original Little Mermaid story, the mermaid actually died in the end. The prince didn't chose her and married another human instead. Not really gruesome at all, but not the rainbow-happy ending that Disney made children to believe.

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  66. I loved Cinder and really can't wait to read Scarlet. I want to meet a whole new character and continue the already awesome story. =] Thanks for the awesome giveaway.

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  67. I enjoy discovering the gruesome history of a lot of fairy tales and comparing them to the versions we have now. Like, Cinderella's stepsisters cutting off their toes to fit into the glass slipper. Really? They thought THAT was going to work?

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  68. I love the suspense and the thrill that Meyers delivers in her writing without the need of adding large amounts of horror into her books.

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  69. I love how Marissa Meyer was able to take a story we all know in Cinder, yet keep us riveted an on our toes. I have heard that Scarlet is an amazing strong character and I can't wait to read her story.

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  70. Every time I hear the original story of a fairy tale (i.e. not the Disney version), I'm appalled by the violence and, err, creepiness. They make me squirm, and I don't need anyone telling me not to talk to strangers!

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  71. *shivers* that is horrific. It's interesting, but I won't ever see Red Riding hood the same way anymore.

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  72. Okay, clearly, I need to read some of the older Riding Hood tales. Crazy!

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  73. Wow, I never knew fairy tales can be so graphic! I think I'd stick to my usual, PG but action-packed fairy tales. :D

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  74. This is one interesting aspect of fairy tales. As children we were brought up with the washdown version and popular rendition of Disney of the stories. But the original ones are far more interesting and darker.

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  75. Wow...this was definitely an interesting post. Nevering going to think of Red Riding Hood the same again!

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  76. I love all the creepy, dark old versions of fairy tales. I'm particularly interested in Red Riding Hood since there are those dark versions; I'm especially disturbed by the ones where the wolf wins. Thanks for the post!

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  77. I love retellings of fairy tales. Little Red Riding Hood is one of my favorites. I can't wait to read Scartlet!

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  78. Ewwww! The second one makes my skin crawl! Not only rape, but bestiality, too. Pleck! Definitely a strong tale against being...erm...trusting of your elders? Innocent? Honestly, I'm not sure what the moral is, given we get both "be obedient" and "don't talk to strangers....who by the way seem to be your grandmother". Hrm.

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