Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Little Red Riding Hood is Older than You Think

The story of Little Red Riding Hood, usually dated to the 16th or 17th century, may be much older, says an anthropologist who studied multiple versions from around the world.

Professor Jack Zipes, a retired professor of German at the University of Minnesota who is an expert on fairy tales and their origins, described [Dr. Jamie Tehrani's] work as “exciting”. He believes folk tales may have helped people to pass on tips for survival to new generations.

He said: “Little Red Riding Hood is about violation or rape, and I suspect that humans were just as violent in 600 BC as they are today, so they will have exchanged tales about all types of violent acts.

“I have tried to show that tales relevant to our adaptation to the environment and survival are stored in our brains and we consistently use them for all kinds of reference points.”

I had heard it argued lot of the classic European fairy tales reflect the social destruction of the Thirty Years War (1618–1648)--disease, fighting, looting.

But apparently "Little Red Riding Hood" counts as ancient Pagan wisdom.

(Via Arts and Letters Daily.)



Anonymous Pitch313 said...

What the study suggests is that the relational tree of variant folk tales goes back much further than some have assumed, based on the dating of the familiar European variant we know from books. But my guess is that lots of people interested in folk tales have had a hunch that this was the case, even when they couldn't demonstrate it.

But I gotta add that ordinary readers of "Little Red Riding Hood" probably don't experience the story in relation to its place in this relational tree, contrasting it with variants from other cultures and historical periods, That's a rather specialist approach.

10:25 AM  

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