69º ~ glorious spring weather with a chance of rain, praying for rain to wash the pollen away

Dear Readers, I’m unplugging from the internet and poetry for about a week.  Tomorrow, I’ll exchange my glorious spring weather for a bit of northern snow.  Not to worry, C. will be holding down the fort at home and making sure the cats don’t take over in my absence.  (Oh, who are we kidding, the cats rule!)

Until then, I’ll leave you with an update from the Grimm brothers.  Did you know that when the prince visited Rapunzel in her tower, they were getting it on?  True story.  Rapunzel ends up a pregnant teen out of wedlock and gives birth to twins (a boy and a girl) while in exile in a desolate land (this is after the witch has discovered the prince’s visits and cut off all of R.’s hair before casting out of her native land).  Later, the prince gets his eyes poked out by thorns as he falls from the tower, having been pushed by the witch.  But don’t fret, dear reader, he wanders aimlessly long enough that he eventually stumbles on Rapunzel and her tears restore his sight and the family lives happily ever after.  I’m pretty sure Disney missed the sex & pregnancy part when making Tangled, but I haven’t seen it myself.  (Interestingly, after the witch takes Rapunzel from her parents, they are never mentioned again.  Weird.)

Also, the absence of mothers is truly alarming.  Almost every story involves an evil stepmother in some way.  I know, intellectually, that this had a lot to do with the mortality rate for women dying in childbirth, but its still a bit overwhelming.  And what if you were a good stepmother at the time?  Sheesh.  I’ve also read that the tales often signal the beginning separation of the child from his/her mother, who would have been the primary nurturer at the time.  Harsh world = grow up fast.

Oh, latest death practice for the evil stepmother?  Put her and her ugly daughter, stepsister to our heroine, in a barrel studded through with sharp nails, then roll them down a hill and into a river.  Nice.  (from “The Three Little Gnomes in the Forest”)

I’ll leave you with a picture.  I’m trying to use more of my own photos on the blog b/c of copyright questions when using the work of others.

from the Southeast Asia Butterfly exhibit at the St. Louis Zoo, October 2011

See y’all next week!

Posted by Sandy Longhorn


Even more disturbing: in earlier versions of all these stories, it wasn't stepmothers, it was mothers.

Sandy Longhorn

Wah!? Jeannine, if you have any books for earlier versions, please send titles/editors/etc.

I guess that fits with the idea that the stories helped distance the child from the mother, psychologically. Still, gruesome!!

Beautifully illustrated children's book by Paul O. Zelinksky retells Rapunzel, leaving in pregnancy, blindness, etc. Rapunzel's real mother has to give her up to the sorceress/stepmother because she craved rapunzel from the sorceress's garden, and hubby stole some for her. Sorceress thinks she has kept Rapunzel safe from the world and feels betrayed by the pregnancy. Violence follows. Happy ending: Rapunzel & Prince find each other in the wilderness, she's had twins, and her tears dissolve his blindness.

Sandy Longhorn

Love Zelinsky's books. Thanks, Kathleen.

The version I'm reading has it all in there,too – just as Kathleen describes. I, too, was surprised to realize Rapunzel and the prince were doing the deed. I wonder if this just didn't dawn on me as a child, or if the versions I read then were cleansed?

Enjoy your unpluggedness. We have plenty of snow in the northland to share!

Sandy Longhorn

Thanks, Molly. I wonder that too about the versions I read as a child.

Nancy Devine

enjoy the colder weather….if that's possible.

Sandy Longhorn

Thanks, Nancy!

Safe travels–may you come back refreshed, with ideas for more fairy tale poems, and with pictures for use in blogging and book promotion!

Jeannine Hall Gailey

I was really lucky in my high school days to have a dedicated European history teacher who mined his college textbooks and made photocopied versions of, like, the fifteenth-century old-English versions of Little Red Riding Hood, etc. I found these invaluable when I was doing research for Becoming the Villainess.
I'd recommend trying to get ahold of some Charles Perrault versions or collections(from the 1600's.) My university library was a great help in finding out-of-print references to old fairy tale collections in other languages. I also happen to own copies of the entire Andrew Lang Fairy Book (Crimson, Olive, etc) collection, which was also invaluable as he gathered many different versions of the stories, some more sanitized than others (and the illustrations fantastic!)
You should also check out essays from The Endicott Studios such as this one:

Sandy Longhorn

Kristin, thanks for stopping by. I did get some great inspiration on the drive today.

Jeannine, wow! Thanks so much! Awesome information.

Karen J. Weyant

Hi Sandy — You may want to look at the critical responses of Jack Zipes and Maria Tatar. Tatar, who edits some great anthologies about fairy tales, also has a blog. (I just found this out when I googled her name!)

Sandy Longhorn

Thanks, Karen!


Stephen Sondheim mined all this to great affect for his musical, "Into the Woods" — awesome stuff!

Sandy Longhorn

Thanks, Marie!