Friday, April 2, 2010

Another Villeneuve myth

Illustration by Eleanore Vere Boyle

Surlalune linked to this post the other day. A fascinating article, Patrick Garson explores different Beauty and the Beast illustrations. Since I don't really have an artists' eye, my reactions to illustrations are usually limited to things like, "Ooh, that's pretty!" so it's good to have intelligent input from people who know what they're talking about.

Yet I have a bone to pick with him. I quote: "For example, do you know that the first written version of “Beauty and the Beast” clocked in at over three hundred pages? And the Beast didn’t even transform at the end?"

This is obviously referring to the Villeneuve, and yes it was very long, but the Beast does transform!! I read things like this and I think, man, am I crazy? Did I read the whole story and totally not pick up on the fact that he stays a Beast? We do expect the transformation so it's possible we take those assumptions and gloss over a few facts.

Illustration by Edmund Dulac

But I looked it up, and no, the Beast does indeed transform. Beauty wakes up the morning after she accepts the Beast's marriage proposal with her Unknown lover beside her. She has been having dreams every night where she rendezvouses with the handsome Prince who is really the Beast and has fallen in love with him. Can't say I like this element of the tale-it's hard enough to decide to wed a Beast, so why introduce the Prince as a separate character? How can she say yes while she loves another? But anyway, he's finally a Prince in her waking life. Later on, when the Prince's mother objects to him marrying a commoner, he insists he'd rather be turned into a monster again than be deprived of having Beauty for his bride.
Illustration by Arthur Rackham

All pictures taken from the article-go there to see what Patrick Garson says about them. I don't know where these people get their misinformation. Unless Jack Zipes' translation is majorly flawed, which I highly doubt, many people who write comments about the Villeneuve haven't actually read it themselves.

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