Friday, September 25, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

In Glen Cook's Black Company books, The Lady's mother was suggested to be the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty legend except with a much darker vibe; she wasn't awakened by true love's kiss; in fact, she wasn't awakened at all, in spite of the The Lady's father's efforts to bestow his affection, or at least his appreciation for her beauty, and she concieved and gave birth to four daughters without waking up. I had thought that this was a marvelously dark and twisted idea.

However, while poking around for the early version of fairy tales today, I discover that the earliest known written version of the classic Sleeping Beauty motif, a section of the Medieval romance Perceforest originally published in 1528 and supposedly written down in about 1330 or so, has exactly that happen with the sleeping beauty, there named Zellandine. There, the prince Troilus doesn't bother waiting for her to wake up either, at least until after she's given birth to his two twins.

D'oh! These old fairy tale roots are really freaky. That's one that's unusual, but the cases of cannibalism, incest, and other really sordid, dark themes are simply rampant within these early versions.

Of course, the classic Sleeping Beauty motif has older roots; the Brunhild and Sigurd story from pagan Germanic mythology is also suggested as a sleeping beauty source. Of course, that's also difficult to date; the Nibelungenleid and the Volsunga Saga, both of which have Brunhild references, were only written late, but are believed to have roots going back to 5th or 6th century greater "Germania"---although actual textual evidence doesn't even get us quite as far back as Perceforest---sometime in the 13th century.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

I'm still getting used to what I've got on my hands with Nox Arcana, but I think Grimm Tales may be my favorite of them. My oldest son also likes that one the best.