The famous Brothers Grimm had nothing on Charles Perrault, the 17th century author of such enduring tales as Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. If modern copyright law had existed in 17th century France — and if one could own a work for 400 years or so — Perrault’s descendants would probably own half of the Disney empire. Certainly Walt Disney did very brisk business with Perrault’s literary creations — which Disney found up for grabs in the legal free-for-all called “public domain.”
That Perrault is being honored with a Google doodle is perfectly apropos — because just as Google keeps everyday people from being anonymous, so it turns its service to someone who deserves the exposure. Ask a person on the street who wrote Mother Goose or Puss in Boots, and they’ll likely say that those are just fairy tales — as if these famous narratives just sprung whole and finished from the earth. Or if pressed, they might say Walt Disney wrote them. The real answer, of course, is Charles Perrault.
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