Monday, 9 January 2012

rosa and the warm shiver

Good morning, fellow night owls!

I am very pleased to tell you all that I have, despite predictions to the contrary earlier on in the week, ticked almost everything important off my to-do list, and now can share a little something I've been working on.

This is Rosa, my own incarnation of that wonderful story, 'Little Red Riding Hood'. As a child, I always preferred these traditional folk-takes, and 'Red Riding Hood' probably best embodies that necessary quality of a good story: to be taken somewhere else entirely. For this reason I like playing visually with the idea of a 'warm shiver': that delicious crawling down your spine, the precarious feeling that your world might be toppling, that something might be 'off the leash' so to speak, and not so nicely watching you just out of your line of vision . . .

 There are about as many fabulous versions of this story as there are illustrators in Bologna come the annual book fair, but I must say I am probably fondest of those written by Perrault and the Brothers Grimm.

Although Perrault was said to have penned what was until that time a common French folk-tale, this is generally considered to be the inspiration for the modern, sugar-coated version we heard as children. The important difference between Perrault and his predecessors though, is of course the ending: "this wicked wolf fell upon Little Red Riding Hood, and ate her all up". Perrault's tale does not include the presence of the Woodcutter/ Hunstman, which only makes those thinly veiled innuendos that much the stronger in the wolf's invitation to Little Red, that she should 'come get into bed with me'. The wolf is used as a symbol of seduction, of dark and dangerous beauty and stealth, and quite successfully emphasises the foolishness of the young girl who goes a-wandering where she shouldn't.

Grimm's version, not unintentionally, is equally, well, grim. Red and Granny are rescued by means of that ever-capable Woodcutter gung-ho-ing his way in and playing scissors with Mr. Wolf's tummy as he takes a well-deserved nap, contented with his lady snacks. Once they are freed, the Woodcutter fills the wolf's stomach with rocks, stitches him up and plops him into the river- very much like last year's film 'Red Riding Hood' with Amanda Seyfried.

I think what I love most about these stories is that inherent danger of the wolf and what he and the dark woods represent (come on, admit it, it's a pretty sexy story!). Modern incarnations of fairytales are often like a checklist in political correctness; I think sometimes, it's nice to feel real emotion and be transported by a book- having it end not quite in the way we'd actually want it is part of the reason they're called 'fairytales' after all!

Happy reading my friends,
Mel x

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