Minute Message – Charles Perrault

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, January 29, 2019

by Rix Quinn

     This month we recognize the birthday of Charles Perrault, who preserved the folk tales of “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Sleeping Beauty” and many more.

We’d bake him a cake, but since he was born in 1628 he’s 391 now, and few folks that age can blow out the candles.

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Perrault painstakingly transcribed centuries-old stories that taught important lessons like bravery, honesty, and wolf avoidance.

Before Perrault committed them to paper, folk tales passed orally from one generation to the next. As you know, the mouth is filled with bacteria, so many stories were mangled through repetition.

Next to “Vixens Go To Mars,” the legend about Riding Hood is my favorite. Where else can you find fresh baked goods, a lovely heroine, a wolf wearing a gown, and a lumberjack all in one place?

In the fable I heard, Red’s mom summons her to deliver food to ailing Grandma. Red takes a shortcut through the woods and meets a talking wolf (pretty suspicious). Not content to simply steal the food, Wolf finds out where Red’s going, and beats her there.

He chases off Granny, put on her gown, and crawls into bed. Red – for the same reason Lois Lane can’t identify Clark Kent as Superman – can’t tell Wolf from Grandma.

Wolf jumps at Red, but her screams summon a lumberjack. He races in, scares the wolf away, and Granny returns.

From this tale we discover that wolves have problems impersonating sick people. And we also learn that if you don’t write down great stories, you’ll omit details…and end up with a near-myth.