Brotherhood of the Wolf - LEGENDS AND FAIRY TALES

Arthur Rackham, a British artist, created this illustration of "Little Red Riding Hood," circa 1909. Have a look at the roots of Rackham's trees. Is he intending that they resemble a wolf's claws? Do the trees make the scene more scary for Red Riding Hood?


Not long before Jakob Ludwig Grimm (the German writer of fairy tales) penned Rotkappchen (known in English as Little Red Riding Hood), he was librarian to Napoleon’s brother, Jerome Bonaparte. It is said Grimm would have learned the story of la Bete, then dead less than five decades, from those French connections.

But ... the Beast of Gevaudan could not have been the model for Grimm’s Little Red Riding Hood, despite the obvious parallels, since the story of the grandmother-eating wolf predated la Bete by many years.

When Charles Perrault wrote his Stories of Times Past in 1697, the eight stories in his book, including Le Petit Chaperon Rouge - the French version of Little Red Riding Hood - were already well-known tales. Perrault did not invent these plots, which included Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Instead, he gave them what scholars call "literary legitimacy."

At the time, such folk tales were intended more for young adults than for children. Each story was followed by “The Moral,” as in Red Riding Hood, which begins:

From this short story easy we discern
What conduct all young people ought to learn...

Some of the stories, like Red Riding Hood, had harsh endings. The Brothers Grimm changed the earlier version of the story (wherein the wolf ate both the grandmother and the child) to something less drastic (wherein local woodsmen retrieved both humans from the entrails of the wolf they had killed).

Perhaps the real-life ending of la Bete did influence the story-ending of Jakob Grimm’s version which, itself, has continued to evolve through the centuries.

It is also said la Bete was the model for another famous story by a much-loved writer. The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, pits the legendary Sherlock Holmes against a ravaging beast. Holmes, of course, follows the clues to solve the crimes.

At the time of the actual killings, la Bete was widely reported in the Avignon Gazette. Today the story (about one-third real and two-thirds fiction) is the backdrop for Le Pacte des Loups, a movie known in English as Brotherhood of the Wolf.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jan 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: May 17, 2017

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"LEGENDS AND FAIRY TALES" AwesomeStories.com. Jan 01, 2001. Feb 27, 2020.
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