To make something (especially a location) more acceptable or marketable by removing potentially distasteful, controversial or boring elements, particularly at the cost of its historical nature. Or, to make a place sterile and disingenuous, thus diminishing its cultural and social significance.
A few weeks ago I posted an item about the original Peter Pan story having been much more horrific than the sugary versions which, in the public mind, are the accurate depictions.
Here are some more fairy tales that were horrific in their original format but have come to be known by their later sanitised versions
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The Little Mermaid:
· In the original 1837 Hans Christian Anderson version of the tale (mermaid, tale, get it?? ha ha) the mermaid is given a potion by the Sea Witch that turns her tail into legs. Walking, however, feels for her like walking on knife blades.
· The prince is not at all a nice chap, he makes her dance for his amusement and ends up falling in love with another woman.
· But there is an out. The Sea Witch will allow the mermaid to live if she kills the prince. The mermaid loves the prince too much to do so and suffers the penalty: she dies and becomes sea foam.
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· If you think that original Little Mermaid was anything but Disney, wait until you read about the original version of Sleeping Beauty.
· The Brothers Grimm version of Sleeping Beauty is based on a 1634 story by Giambattista Basile called Sun, Moon and Talia.
· Talia is the princess who falls into a magic sleep when she pricks her finger with a splinter from a bundle of flax. Her father believes she is dead. He leaves her sitting on a velvet throne and locks the place up, departing for other areas unknown.
· Some years later, a king is walking by when his falcon flies into the castle. Unable to gain entry, he uses a ladder and finds the unconscious body of Talia. Personifying the dictum of President Nixon many years later – “When the President does it that means that it is not illegal” - he carries her to a bed, has his way with her and leaves her in the bed when he goes back to his kingdom.
· The still unconscious Talia gives birth to twins. One of the twins, sucking on her finger when unable to find Talia’s breast, sucks out the splinter. Talia awakes and is surprised to find that she is somehow the mother of twins. She names them “Sun” and “Moon”, which would have been fine at Woodstock but somewhat odd in a castle.
· Meanwhile, the king decides that he would like another session with Talia and heads back. He too is surprised, finding Talia awake and the mother of his two children. They bond and he falls in love. Problem: he is already married.
· Back home, he calls for Talia, Sun and Moon in his sleep. The Queen learns the story and decides upon revenge. No divorce with a huge property claim through the Family Court, she has better plans.
· The Queen invites Talia and the children over under a false pretence and kidnaps the babies. She tells the royal chef to kill the children and turn them into dinner for the king. The chef, however, hides the babies with his wife and cooks lamb instead, saving the children. The evil queen then tries to burn Talia at the stake, but the king learns the truth and throws the Queen into the fire instead. The chef is made Royal Chamberlain and the King, Talia, Sun and Moon live happily ever after.
· The last line of the original fairy tale and the moral of the story is:
"Lucky people, so ’tis said,
Are blessed by Fortune whilst in bed."