Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale - Catherine Orenstein My fascination with fairy tales knows no bounds. Part cultural study, part literary analysis, Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked fed that fire and lived up to my expectations. A surprisingly quick read, Orenstein presents her material in a succinct manner and makes each individual section stand on its own merits, thereby avoiding an overabundance of repetition. Her examination of the story's early history and metamorphosis over time is thorough without being dry, riveting enough to hold even a casual reader's interest. Different aspects of the tale are presented and dissected without getting bogged down in asides, each point supported by appropriate context from the age without drifting into long winded lessons on unnecessary history. The expectation that the reader isn't a complete moron is refreshing.

My only complaints are nitpicks. I have an aversion to feminist grandstanding and so didn't give much of a damn about the section dedicated to that viewpoint. Orenstein did avoid presenting that chapter with a bias, giving equal weight to the extreme grrrl power hysteria and the more gentle woman-as-viewed-by-men point of view, which was much appreciated. The essay focusing on the parallels of fairy tales and pornography was far to short for any in depth coverage, which I found disappointing as there's enough material in the subject for an entire tome of its own. It felt as if she was shying away from any chance of being titillating and in the process gave up the chance to be truly scholarly.

The exploration of sex and morality in Little Red Riding Hood is meant to stimulate thoughts on the cultures that reformed the tale to reflect their value systems, and Orenstein succeeds magnificently on this point. There's nothing sexy or voyeuristic about her book, despite the title used to hook the reader. The words are true, but they don't mean what an uninterested observer might assume.

An excellent read, especially for those who like books on books (or tales, as the case may be). As an added benefit, one chapter breaks down the story into parts as laid out in Joseph Campbell's study of the hero's journey, presenting each stage in a way that would benefit any fiction writer. Time well spent reading with a gift at the end for those who might use it.

Definitely staying in my library.