Welcome to the eight and final part of the Charles Perrault Review Series.
An eight-part serialised set of reviews of the famous fairy tales by the seventeenth-century French author.
Each week I will upload a review of one of his tales. For an overall introduction, read the first review.
This fairy tale is not suitable for children: contains a brief description of the slitting of throats.
I expected this story to be like Grimm's Tom Thumb, which I read earlier this month. Though they have one thing in common – thumb-sized baby-portraits – Perrault's Little Thumbling, I assume actually outgrows his small stature. Moreover, this story is basically the origins for the well-known Hansel and Gretel. The Brothers Grimm seem to have used Tom Thumb for both Hansel and Gretel and Sweetheart Roland (read my review).
Why so? Starving parents decide it's better to dumb their seven sons in the forest. Little Thumb cleverly drops white pebbles (the first reason that he is now of a normal size) and leads his brothers back. Next time, however, he drops breadcrumbs, which are eaten, and they walk aimlessly through the forest. They knock on the door of a house in the forest, but are told they should not stay for it is the house of an ogre. His wife, however, lets them in and hides them under the bed when her ogre husband returns. He and his nose, however, smell right through his wife's lies. The seven boys will make a wonderful meal for tomorrow's ogre gathering. So they give them one last meal, in the hopes of fattening them up overnight, and it's off to bed with them.
The next part is where Sweetheart Roland takes its inspiration from. Little Thumb sees he and his brothers share a bedroom with the ogre's seven half-ogre daughters. These ogres-in-the-making wear golden crowns in bed, for reasons beyond any non-ogre I imagine. Little Thumb takes the seven crowns and places them on his brothers' heads and his own Then the ogre decides that it is, after all, better to kill the boys now than to wait till morning. His overall drunken disposition, and the fact that he got up in the middle of the night, cause him to slit his daughters' throats.
Scared Little Thumb wakes his brothers and they flee. But they cannot flee fast enough for the ogre quickly catches up with his seven-league boots. The boys see him approach very quickly and hide. The boots, however, have worn the ogre out so he takes a nap. Little Thumb steels the boots and cons the ogre's wife out of his accumulated wealth. Furthermore, he uses the seven-league boots to establish himself as a the kingdom's most successful private messenger. As such, the youngest son, whose miniature stature at birth was a disappointment to his father, turned out to be the most successful of the seven sons.
This work is in the public domain and can be read and downloaded for free to read online or on your e-reader or Kindle at Project Gutenberg.
|Original title:||Le Petit Poucet|
|Edition:||Online at Classics Illustrated|
|Read:||17 - 30 May 2013|
|Amazon USA||Amazon UK|
|Book Depository USA||Book Depository UK|
|Abebooks USA||Abebooks UK|