The Stories Begun











{December 31, 2009}   It’s Begun

Scarlett has come to life.  Finally my fried brain has cooled and is ready to write.  I’m in that luxury stage where I don’t need to force myself to write every day (though I probably should), and I was able to wait until the past semester worked itself out of my brain.  And boy did I need it.  A semester of 50,000 words (yeah, a short novel) was just a little too much for me and I needed space from my computer.  Thankfully, we’ve made up.

ATU 337 is a truly fascinating tale, and the touchstone version for my project is the Perrault version.  I specifically chose Perrault for two reasons: the delicious sexuality and the fact that the ending is distinctly unhappy.  Most people know the Grimm Brothers version, which ends with the hunter and the stones sewed into the belly.  Oh, and a drowning.  No faerie tale is complete without a good drowning!  Perrault ended with the consumption of Little Red and there’s good reason to believe that in the oral versions that’s where the story ended as well.

The oral versions also have some interesting points to them that have crept into Scarlett.  Before Perrault wrote down Little Red Riding Hood and definitively set the wolf as, well, a wolf, the wolf was also considered to be a bzou or an ogre.  Bzou means werewolf in old French, but it’s the ogre and a later French werewolf, the loup garou that really makes this tale come alive for me  in a way that I’ve never seen before.

Puss In Boots, another classic French and Perrault special, includes an ogre who owns a castle.  Puss challenges the ogre to a series of transformations (for this ogre, while he walked like a man, could become anything he liked), including a lion and a mouse.  When he becomes the mouse, Puss does what cats do best and eats the ogre.  As this relates to Little Red, the ogre is not just a hideous creature, but a shapeshifter, able to become what pleases the young woman in the woods.  The loup garou, on the other hand, are a rich and fascinating group that I haven’t the time to fully cover.  What is important to me is a) they are werewolves, b) they do not need the moon, c) they were hunted as part of the witch hunts in France, and d) they have this history.  The werewolf makes so much more sense than the wolf when considering the sexuality of the tale.

And so I’m excited about the tale again.  I’m writing out the plot diagram and drawing the little picture that goes with  it.  Scarlett has begun and I’m so excited!

~RJLouise

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