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When Beauty Awoke

How many ways to think about “Sleeping Beauty”? In the first written Italian and French versions, the plots outline the fate of a young girl as the object of family jealousy, trickery and, after being drugged asleep, ravishment. By the mid-19th century, the Brothers Grimm toned down the storyline, romanticized and adapted it as a story fit for children. Ivan Vsevolozhsky, Tchaikovsky, and Marius Petipa’s 1890 landmark ballet further refashioned it. But another few generations of scholarly research recognized the darker undertones and representations of girls in the fairy tale tradition. Apart from handsome swains or huntsmen who save damsels like Beauty or Red Riding Hood from stepmothers or disfigured crones, the producers of even the most treasured classics should take some measure of the plight of characters, even if fantasy.

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