Academic journal article Journal of American Folklore

Revisioning Red Riding Hood around the World: An Anthology of International Retellings

Academic journal article Journal of American Folklore

Revisioning Red Riding Hood around the World: An Anthology of International Retellings

Article excerpt

Revisioning Red Riding Hood around the World: An Anthology of International Retellings. By Sandra L. Beckett. (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2014. Pp. vii + 401, acknowledgments, introduction, notes, bibliography, references, index, illustrations, text credits.)

Sandra l. beckett has published a varied collection of 52 "little red riding hood" stories from non-english-speaking countries. With two exceptions, these variants have been newly translated into english. beckett has written brief but valuable introductions to contextualize each story and story-poem. her discussions include the country of origin, authors and their other works, and a brief discussion of the translated piece to follow, which aids readers in situating the writer's style and voice in the work. beckett has tried to include at least one illustration from stories that had them, and many of the selections include original black-and-white illustrations created by the authors. She has also included a selection of clearly identified color plates that provide visual clarification supporting the authors' tale interpretations.

The centuries-old "red riding hood" tale is most often identified as a cautionary tale that has long enjoyed a popular presence among readers, storytellers, and listeners. As demonstrated by this interesting and original collection, interest has not begun to wane; that said, these new translations are remarkable in their variety and surprising twists. creative interpretations range from didactic to entertaining to humorous critiques of the academic scholars who have wearied some readers with their endless search for layered meanings. one short tale by French writer pierrette Fleutiaux, called Petit Pantalon Rouge, Barbe-Bleue et Notules (little red pants, bluebeard, and Wee notes) combines the two title fairy tales with "Wee" commentary at the end. in this story, "little red riding pants marries the wolf who has assumed the form of the hairy bluebeard. the unexpected third element of the title, 'Wee,' gives humorous importance to the pseudoscientific notes at the end of the text, which poke fun at folktale scholarship" (p. 311). The implication of the "Wee notes" is that scholars often make ludicrous guesses at folktale meanings and those interpretations often have wee or minimal use.

Beckett warmly acknowledges her indebtedness to many scholars, editors, students, and myriad acquaintances who aided and assisted with translations of texts written in languages unfamiliar to her. in her informative introduction, she acknowledges other scholarly works in the broad studies of this tale (including Jack Zipes), but she justifies her research by expressing the recognition that many versions of this iconic tale have, previous to this book, not been available to english-language readers. The book is arranged into seven thematic chapters ranging from variants of cautionary tales, to tales that play with the plot, to new narratives about protecting and rehabilitating the wolf, to chapter 7: "running with the Wolves," where the protagonist ends up joining the wolf. "The present volume includes texts published for children, adolescents, and adults as well as crossover works intended for an audience of all ages in the tradition of the early oral tales" (p. …

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