Monday, 9 February 2009

A Rats Tale

This friendly little chap makes up part of the art work on the outside of The Pied Piper shop in Montpellier. The shop sells collectable teddy bears, dolls, dollhouses and all things soft and cuddly. The full shop front is below.

I decided that I would look into the story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin to accompany today's post and I have to say it is a disturbing tale. I must have read the Ladybird version when I was younger, as the true story is far from a fairy tale. Basically the town of Hamelin was over-run with rats and the townsfolk called upon the Pied Piper, who had suddenly appeared within their community, to rid them of the infestation. The residents agreed to pay the piper if he could do the job. As we all know - the piper piped, the rats followed, he led them to the river and they all drowned. The towns people wouldn't pay the piper so, while they were in church, he piped again and this time the children of Hamelin followed. The Pied Piper led 130 boys and girls to a cave and they were never seen again. The version I know is that two children, one lame and one deaf, remained in the town and told the adults of the other childrens abduction. The parents paid the piper and the children were freed.

In reality the children were never seen again. It is believed that they were either killed in a landslide, that they left on a religious pilgrimage, that they were drowned in the river or worst of all, the mysterious piper killed and dismembered them. The story dates from the 14th Century and over time has changed many times. I guess we'll never really know what happened but it was no fairy tale ending.

If you have some time and want to read a version of the story by Robert Browning, published in 1842, here it is.
_

14 comments:

Tricia said...

Not really the kind of story you want your children to read, huh?!! I never really liked that story when I was a kid - it just seemed too weird!

magiceye said...

the images are beautiful but the story you narrated is horrifying! a twist to the usual one that have read

Bibi said...

Yes, I'd heard this story. I have a book of 'real' fairy tales; the truth behind the tales...quite a read. Once upon a time though, fairy tales like the three bears were not just for children, but to warn people of dangers....

Babzy said...

This story is very well known and i like it even if it's a frightened story, there is a french song which related the story
http://www.deezer.com/#music/result/all/hugues
Thanks for the link ,very interesting !

Hilda said...

I've always liked the older versions of fairy tales. I read somewhere that the Pied Piper tale may have been about the black plague. Many fairy tales were written as cautionary or morality tales too. Adults should read classic translations of Andersen and Grimm — suddenly, the tales have such different meanings! The kiddie versions are too sanitized and PC. Don't even get me started on Disney's versions!

Anyway, enough lecture for today… :D

Looks like a lovely shop! And did I hear dollhouses?! :D

Babooshka said...

Always scared the crap out of me as a kid. Fairytales on the whole are terryifying.

Babooshka said...

By the way we call them longtails here. Bad luck to say the words RAT. Ooops silly me bad luck will ensue.

ShutterSpy said...

'This friendly little chap makes up part of the art work on the outside of The Pied Piper shop in Montpellier'

How do you know he's friendly? He might be really evil! lol :-D

Lori said...

I never knew it was such a disturbing story. There's a disturbing element to a lot of fairy tales it seems. The shop looks very charming though.

Mo said...

I read the story as a kid. scary stories never scared me back then. However I didn't know it was real.

slim said...

That is a "Grimm" one indeed. I also have read that they were not written for children. The store looks like one I would pop into.

Tash said...

Love the smirking rat! What a great find.
I did hear the story - as an adult. I hated Pinochio picture book I had, and Alice in Wonderland was frightening too. I used to cry my eyes out over the Little Match Girl - she dies, for goodness sakes, after using up all the matches trying to keep warm.

Web-OJ said...

Oh, those poor kids. I particularly hate rats. Ewww!

Saretta said...

Grimm!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin