Loss of Innocence: Sleeping Beauty

The popular fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty has its originsin more sinister French, Italian and Norse stories. Elements of La Belleau Bois dormant can be seen in the French Histoire de Troïlus et de Zellandine of the Medieval romance Perceforest from the Low Countries. Theprince Troïlus rapes the beautiful naked Princess Zellandine during herenchanted sleep. While still comatoseshe gives birth to a child. The Italian Sun, Moon, and Taliaby Giambattista Basile (1575 –1632)has a similar theme. A marriedKing rapes the sleeping Talia who gives birth to twins, a boy and girl. Initially she remains in her enchantedsleep until the boy sucks the poisoned splinter flax splinter from herfinger. Upon awakening she namesthe children Sun and Moon. Sleeping Beauty can also be found in the thirteenth century Icelandic Volsunga Saga in which Brynhildr throws herself on Sigurðr's funeral pyre. Arthur Rackham (1867 –1939), the English illustrator shows Brünnhildesurrounded by flames from the Wagnerian version. French author CharlesPerrault (1628 – 1703) wrote the more subdued story where the couple liveshappily ever after. It is often a subject of art and illustration from the Pre-Raphaelite style of John Maler Collier (1850 –1934) to the fancifulwork of Errol Le Cain (1941–1989). But remnants of the older versionpersist; Gustav Klimt created Danaë in 1907. The sleeping princess is depicted being impregnated by King Zeus as a rain of gold.