Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sleeping Beauty tidbits

Usually we have no idea where folktales originated, or what initially inspired them. This Alaskan tale was inspired by Mount Susitna, or The Sleeping Lady (who looks like the profile of a woman sleeping on her back):

"The Sleeping Lady
Legend tells us that a millennia ago, the Great Land known as Alaska was inhabited by a race of giants.  Among these people was a beautiful young maiden and a handsome young man whose devotion to each other was admired by all the villagers.  Wedding preparations were underway when word reached the village of a warring tribe approaching from the north. 
 
After a village council it was decided that the young man would bring gifts to the invaders to show the peaceful and friendly intentions of the villagers.  Keeping herself busy while waiting for the young man's return, the maiden eventually grew tired and laid down to rest.
 
Soon after, word reached the village that the invaders rejected the offer of peace and a battle ensued in which the young man was killed.  The villagers, gazing at the sleeping maiden, did not have the heart to wake her. 
So there she rests today, still waiting for news of peace and the return of her love . . . "
 
William A. Breakspeare
 
Technically a legend rather than a fairy tale, and apparently there's even controversy about how authentic it really is*-  but such genres have a way of blurring together with each other. The image of a sleeping woman is prominently featured in fairy tale lore, and is a controversial one, especially for modern feminists who see it as promoting the idea of the woman being helpless. 
 
By the way, is anyone else bothered by the Sleeping Beauty reference in Katy Perry's new hit Dark Horse? Maybe you all listen to more quality music than I do... From the rap section by Juicy J:
 
"That fairy tale ending with a knight in shining armor
She can be my Sleeping Beauty
I’m gon’ put her in a coma
Woo!"

The prince of the fairy tale (unless the writers were referencing Basile's version in which the prince takes advantage of the princess in a coma and rapes her, which I HIGHLY doubt) is supposed to get her OUT of the coma, not INTO it. Despite my doubts that it was influenced by Basile, I definitely get creepy rape vibes from the idea of a man putting a woman into a coma...
Honor C. Appleton

*If you read the article, it claims that the Sleeping Lady story is definitely NOT ancient folklore. The sources are a former student who says about a story she wrote in 1964, "I think I made the story up, although I can't definitely say for sure,"  and Ann Dixon who said "the tale probably originated with prospectors or homesteaders sometime between 1930 and 1950." Sounds like a legit folk tale to me...even if it isn't hundreds and hundreds of years old, but can they even prove it didn't exist before the 1930s?

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