14 Oct 31 HORROR STORIES — “Rumplestiltskin” (c. 1857)
The Brothers Grimm were REALLY fucking grim, but it took awhile for people to realize it.
I’m sure you all know how their original collected folk tales, when first published, were a lot racier, violent, and adult-oriented than the water-down versions that got Disneyfied and then read to all of us little whelps growing up in the suburbs. Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel both got themselves pregnant after pretty much being date-raped. Hansel and Gretel’s mom demanded their father MURDER them in the woods and then bring back their hearts as proof. And let’s not even go into Snow White’s sister, Rose Red.
But the one story that really fucked me up when I first heard it was “Rumplestiltskin”. Everyone in the story — the Miller, the King, the Miller’s Daughter — are assholes. So, to compensate, and hold us in moral checkmate, they make the only straightforward, honest person in the tale a goddamn cannibal.
Ol’ Rumpy’s original fireside song was a lot more graphic than the one I heard. Of course, in softening it, they turn EXPLICIT into IMPLICIT which, when you’re young, is worse on the psyche:
“Tonight my bread I bake
Tonight my beer I make
Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow
The Queen’s little baby I take”
The fact that he’s dancing around a roaring bonfire, singing about an incomplete meal, is not a good thing for a little kid to hear.