The Tales of Mother Goose


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Was there a real Mother Goose? - HISTORY

The text of this little book within paper wrappers is not a tale itself, but rather a play-text and description of a staged pantomime production, a very popular form of English comedic theater, featuring songs and fairly outrageous slapstick humor. Cotsen Samuel Simmons was one of the stars of the theater company, as evidenced by the playbill shown below for this production at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, where he receives top billing.

Even though the top of the playbill was cropped off by a prior owner, the name of the company remains quite visible. Such twin-bills were common in theater at the time, usually presenting abridged versions of one or both plays. In an era before television or the Internet, the plays were indeed the thing in terms of popular entertainment. Why this variation in what seems to be the first edition, though?

It is really quite evident that the raconteurs who kept these tales alive pandered to the lusts of their audiences, much as do the scriptwriters today, in seeing to it that the cinema and television screen are well supplied with murderous slashings and other forms of savagery.

Humpty Dumpty: Introduction - Mother Goose Stories - The Jim Henson Company

It is in relating the full story of what was to become the tale of Little Red Riding Hood that the professor provides the most startling evidence that the storyteller did not merely offer the wish-fulfillment of a full belly, coupled with warnings about the perils of the outside world. In what Darnton himself refers to as a striptease, the little girl divests herself of all of her clothing at the command of the wolf in the guise of her grandmother.

Without the insights of psychoanalysis, which have become commonplace in the understanding of literature—Professor Darnton to the contrary notwithstanding—it would be difficult for the modern reader to believe that in a brutal, primitive, marginal society, in which the opportunity to dress or undress fully, let alone to bathe, must have been remote; when privacy must have been a scarcely conceivable luxury and modesty nonexistent; when one defecated on the community dunghill or perhaps into a pot in the presence of others—it would be difficult, I repeat, to believe that a raconteur could regularly titillate his audience by detailing every item of clothing: apron, bodice, skirt, petticoat, and stockings, as the little girl removed these prior to getting into bed with the wolf.

In short, in his gratuitous sideswipe at psychoanalysis, Professor Darnton has unwittingly provided support for a thesis much more complex and profound than his own, namely that along with hunger and fear, sex was a fundamental component of the French folk tale. Fromm is not generally regarded as a spokesman for psychoanalytical thought. In , Bettelheim wrote about the possible meanings to children of symbols in the tales they currently read or hear.

Neither author invented the red riding hood. Darnton rules this accoutrement to be nonexistent because it is not to be found in tales written and told centuries ago. That enables him to ignore his obligation as an historian to explain when, how, and, if possible, why such elaborations came into existence.

Not only is it a modification or accretion, it is now the title of the tale itself. It might be of some interest to discover whether Bettelheim is correct about the possible symbolic meaning. However, as Christopher Lehmann-Haupt aptly and dryly observed in a recent book review, psychoanalysts scarcely need concern themselves today with demonstrating the existence of sex symbols.

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Those data require consideration of human motivating forces which psychoanalysts study and seek to integrate with other more obvious and readily understandable data. Darnton has overlooked this connection and thus cannot account for the changes in the reception of the tale. Moreover, he has not explored the significant relationship between the oral and literary tradition and how storytellers and writers transformed oral tales. Nor did they eliminate all the Perrault tales in the second edition as Darnton argues.

In fact, by the seventh edition, many Perrault and French tales were added. This leads me to my last point. Darnton maintains that one can discern cultural differences through folk tales. Where the French tales tend to be realistic, earthy, bawdy, and comical, the German veer toward the supernatural, the poetic, the exotic, and the violent.

Have You Ever Wondered...

There was no such nation as Germany until , and German oral tales contained and contain distinct regional characteristics Swabian, Bavarian, Hessian, etc. In this special, Mother Goose, or as we call her here Mother Gooseberg, is planning on retirement, so Humpty Dumpty now wanting to be called "Egg" and Old King Cole who's losing his reputation as a 'merry old soul' must rally the others to help talk her out of it.

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Charles Perrault's Mother Goose Tales

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The Tales of Mother Goose

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The Tales of Mother Goose The Tales of Mother Goose
The Tales of Mother Goose The Tales of Mother Goose
The Tales of Mother Goose The Tales of Mother Goose
The Tales of Mother Goose The Tales of Mother Goose
The Tales of Mother Goose The Tales of Mother Goose
The Tales of Mother Goose The Tales of Mother Goose
The Tales of Mother Goose The Tales of Mother Goose
The Tales of Mother Goose The Tales of Mother Goose

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