Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked Ten Moral Tales From The Forest

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9780465041251: Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked Ten Moral Tales From The Forest
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In Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked Catherine Orenstein reveals for the first time the intricate sexual politics, moral ambiguities and philosophical underpinnings of Red Riding Hood's epic journey to Grandmother's house--and how, from the nursery on, the story influences our view of the world. Beginning with its first publication as a cautionary tale on the perils of seduction, written in reaction to the licentiousness of the court of Louis XIV, Orenstein traces the many and various lives the tale has lived since then, from its appearance in modern advertisements for cosmetics and automobiles to the inspiration it brought to poets like Anne Sexton and its starring role in pornographic films. In Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked, Red appears as seductress, hapless victim, riot grrrrl, femme fatale, and even she-wolf, as Orenstein shows how, through centuries of different guises, the story has served as a barometer of social and sexual mores pertaining to women. Full of fascinating history, generous wit, and intelligent analysis, Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked proves that the story of one young girl's trip through the woods continues to be one of our most compelling modern myths.

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Choosing one of the few fairy tales that does not conclude with a wedding, Catherine Orenstein reinterprets the many versions of "Little Red Riding Hood" by setting the tale against the mores and values of its times. The result is a highly entertaining and interesting conversation about one of our best-known stories.

Starting with the first-known published version, Orenstein points out Charles Perrault's lesson to young girls entering the lascivious and political court of Louis XIV. She traces the story further back to a shockingly playful rendition that includes bzous (werewolves) and cannibalism. In this version, she revives the symbolism that relates to the feminine by pointing out the odd questions of the bzou: "Which path are you taking... the path of needles or the path of pins?" Orenstein also takes a look at more modern versions, including Anne Sexton's poem "Red Riding Hood" and Matthew Bright's film Freeway, taking on, as she examines these and other modern versions of the old tale, the machismo wolf and the Gen-X grrrl.

Though expansive in her research, Orenstein's interpretations are occasionally too simplistic. In "Grandmother's Tale," Riding Hood's cannibalistic meal of her grandmother is reduced to a "symbolic reminder that the old will be reborn in the young." There is nothing mentioned of the talking cat who decries Riding Hood, saying, "She is a slut who eats the flesh and drinks the blood of her granny!" But what Orenstein lacks in depth, she more than makes up for in her encompassing study. In all, 10 tales are examined, as well as a vast historical study of the times they were published. Written with lively prose, Orenstein has produced a book that will spark thought and conversation, encouraging readers to find the wolf, the grandmother, and the little girl within. --Karin Rosman

About the Author:

Catherine Orenstein is a free-lance writer. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Miami Herald, the San Francisco Examiner Sunday Magazine, and other publications. She lives in New York City.

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9780465041268: Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, And The Evolution Of A Fairy Tale

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