Monday, March 14, 2011

Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale

Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, And The Evolution Of A Fairy Tale

Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, And The Evolution Of A Fairy Tale by Catherine Orenstein is one of many books devoted to this popular fairy tale. I don't have an official count, but LRRH definitely is one of the most written about fairy tales and my unofficial, unscientific count gives it more books devoted only to it than any other fairy tale, including Cinderella. I'll be sharing many of them this week. This book by Orenstein was released in 2002 and is still in print which is impressive for a book about a fairy tale. Orenstein is more journalist than academic so the tone and readability is aimed at a wider audience, too. If you are a LRRH devotee, this one is a must.

Description from the publisher:

A young scholar goes to Grandmother's house--and beyond--to uncover the surprisingly complex and contradictory morals we've learned from this seemingly simple folk tale
In Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked Catherine Orenstein reveals for the first time the intricate sexual politics, moral ambiguities and philosophical underpinnings of Red Riding Hood's epic journey to Grandmother's house--and how, from the nursery on, the story influences our view of the world. Beginning with its first publication as a cautionary tale on the perils of seduction, written in reaction to the licentiousness of the court of Louis XIV, Orenstein traces the many and various lives the tale has lived since then, from its appearance in modern advertisements for cosmetics and automobiles to the inspiration it brought to poets like Anne Sexton and its starring role in pornographic films. In Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked, Red appears as seductress, hapless victim, riot grrrrl, femme fatale, and even she-wolf, as Orenstein shows how, through centuries of different guises, the story has served as a barometer of social and sexual mores pertaining to women. Full of fascinating history, generous wit, and intelligent analysis, Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked proves that the story of one young girl's trip through the woods continues to be one of our most compelling modern myths.

Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Cloaking the Heroine
I. Little Red Riding Hood: To Be Chaste—or Chased?
II. Little Red Cap: To Walk the Straight Path
III. The Grandmother’s Tale: To Come of Age
IV. Stubbe Peeter, Werewolf: A True Story
V. Red Hot Riding Hood: A Babe in the Woods
VI. The Waiting Wolf: In the Belly of the Beast
VII. The Company of Wolves: She-Wolf or Bitch?
VIII. Red Riding Hood Redux: The Cross-Dressing Wolf
IX. The Punishment of Red Riding Hood: Fairy-Talc Fetish
X. Freeway: A Ride in the Hood
Epilogue: Under the Cloak


  1. That's a good book

  2. Unrelated, but: do you read Today's comic strip is about fairy tales and math!


  3. A few years in college, I wrote a paper about sexuality in fairy tales. Needless to say, Little Red Riding Hood got a lot of attention in that paper, and this book was a constant companion during the research process. Recommended.

  4. Orenstein points out many truths about the trends in the classic fairy tale most people have heard since they were children. I like the way she shows the facts about the changes made throughout the years in the story. i love that she also says how the story was once told where the girl actually outsmarted the wolf and gets away using her wits rather than being dumb and helpless