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Below are my painstaking research and failed purchases, though somewhat long-winded, my aim is simple: to find a version of Little Red Riding Hood that meets the following criteria:

  • original (200+ years old)
  • Tragic (sad ending)
  • long (ideally 200+ pages)
  • Sophisticated (not for kids per se)
  • Ideally, still in print (not too hard to find on Amazon)

I have recently received this edition of Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales. I was particularly intrigued by the foreword on the product which mentions how the stories were not the ones we may be accustomed to hearing and were presented in the "original version." However, the version I bought seems extremely "juniorized". Spoiler alert, Little Red Riding Hood ends with:

Then the smell of the sausages reached the wolf, and he sniffed and peeped down, and at last stretched out his neck so far that he could no longer keep his footing and began to slip, and slipped down from the roof straight into the great trough, and drowned. But Red Cap went joyously home, and never did anything to harm anyone.

Evidently, the original version was supposed to end tragically with Little Red Riding Hood getting gobbled up. Perhaps another reason for my letdown was the metatextual discussion in the Introduction of the version I bought, acknowledging the very issue of watering down the stories for an evolving reader palette:

People began to have children, invested more energy in raising them, and provided them with more carefree lives. "Childhood" is thus and invention of the world of middle-class prosperity... and ironically, the brothers' tales were judged as too harsh for the sort of world they helped to build.

So all this ado just to end with the very censored stories I assumed the book was not going to contain. Disappointed, yes, but it did allow me to learn more and frame a better research method.

I now began looking at other tellings of the story. Perrault's version was older and purportedly for a different kind of reader. Again, as the introduction alluded to, fairy tales as literature was somewhat new during the time of the Grimm Brothers. Perrault was writing for the upper classes, as was fashionable for authors at the time, and perhaps explains the harsher fate of Red Riding Hood. I eagerly took to amazon to see if this was my ticket to the original and complete story. I found this as the closest match. The print length appears to be 34 pages, which is at least more than the 2 and a half pages of my current version. However, several comments of buyers of this product flag that it is too short and not the original.

Then I learned that there may be even earlier versions, dating before the 1600s. One by Egbert of Liege even dates to the 11th century and was in latin.

It was at this point I became somewhat overwhelmed.

Question

Is there an edition of Little Red Riding Hood that satisfies the conditions above (old, tragic, long and sophisticated)? If not, what version gets me most of the way there?

Note: On that last bit, if to compromise on my criteria, if there's a new version that is sophisticated/written for adults and is long I could consider it.

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    Can you explain why you need it to be 200 pages long? The 1812 Brothers Grimm version is six pages long, and Perrault's version only four, so a 200-page version would have a lot of padding! Jul 9, 2022 at 14:43
  • I suppose I could compromise there as well. Guess I was imagining the length would help preclude the "Disney" versions and maybe also a bit of personal preference of having more development to immerse in the world. Can be flexible if no such balance can be struck. Jul 9, 2022 at 14:50
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    Perrault's is, to the best of my knowledge, the oldest written. There are collected versions which may reflect an older variant where the girl escapes by claiming she needs to go to the outhouse. But they also are short.
    – Mary
    Jul 10, 2022 at 2:28
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    The original version of a folk tale is likely to be short, as such tales were transmitted orally (hence why the Grimms collected and recorded them). It's a lot easier to remember the gist of a 4-page story than a 200-page one. (Likewise, the Old Testament is now viewed as an edited collection of older stories; the earliest references to legends such as King Arthur or Robin Hood are short mentions, and the epics come later; and epic mythological cycles like Ovid's Metamorphosis are compilations of older tales rather than their origin.)
    – Stuart F
    Jul 14, 2022 at 11:52

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