Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Father of the Fairy Tale

Shortly after I took a few photos of the lovely black hollyhocks I posted a few days ago, I wandered further east in the Tuileries and noticed palm trees hidden among the horsechestnuts and lindens. Upon further investigation, I found this statue:

The sculpture had a plaque, citing the artist, Gabriel Edouard Baptiste Pech, and the piece's name, Le Monument À Charles Perrault. I assumed from the statue that Charles Perrault was some kind of children's author. When I got back to New York, I found that yes, he was indeed an author. Evidently Monsieur Perrault was considered the 'Father of the Fairy Tale' and adapted various folk tales into the stories we know today as Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

I always associated these stories with the Brothers Grimm, but it turns out that they had adapted Perrault's stories in the early 19th Century (Perrault himself died in 1703, about a hundred years earlier).

And yes; there's at least one other story I failed to credit to Perrault. He also wrote Puss in Boots, who figures prominently in the sculpture.

I cannot overstate how much this makes me smile. The courageous pose, the proud set to his feline face, the little rat tied to his belt, well and of course the fabulous footwear - it's fantastic. To me, it also seems to capture the wonder that a child would have had the first time he or she heard about this industrious, though somewhat manipulative little cat.