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Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots
  • Puss in Boots 
  • The Facetious Nights of Straparola (by )
  • The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault (by )
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One of the most beloved of anthropomorphic characters in children’s literature isn’t man’s best friend: it’s a cat. Unlike most fairy tales, neither the Brothers Grimm nor Hans Christian Andersen popularized this one. The earliest known record of the delightfully sly and deceitful feline hero known as Puss in Boots comes from The Facetious Nights of Straparola (1550-53) by Italian author Giovanni Francesco Straparola. History credits Straparola with inventing the tale. Giambattista Basile published the story again under the title Cagliuso (1634), followed by French author Charles Perrault around 1697 in his collection of eight fairy tales, Histoires ou countes du temps passé

In 1729, Robert Samber translated the fairy tale into English and published it with the rest of Perrault’s collection of stories. Samber’s English version of the book made it one of the earliest fictional collections directed toward children. Perrault’s gently ironic adaptation of Puss in Boots found its way into translations across Europe, which meant that the famous Brothers Grimm got their hands on it and included it in their collections of fairy tales.

Before Antonio Banderas first teamed with DreamWorks Animation to give new personality to the wily cat in the animated Shrek movies, Puss in Boots featured in popular operas, the first being Costantino Fortunato (Italian). The French co-opted Puss in Boots for opera, too, with a subtitle referring to the venerable Mother Goose. Puss in Boots makes cameo appearances in other works, such as the third act of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Sleeping Beauty

The cat moved from the stage to the silver screen in 1922, when Walt Disney Studios produced a silent animated film. Japanese writer and director Hayao Miyazaki produced a manga version in 1969. Puss in Boots jumped to television in an episode of Faerie Tale Theatre (1982 - 1987) starring Ben Vereen and Gregory Hines. Christopher Walken played Puss in an episode of Cannon Movie Tales (1988). After the 2004 sequel to Shrek, Banderas and DreamWorks realized they had a good thing going and continued the partnership for the rest of the series, even spinning off a short film in 2011 with Puss in Boots as the title character.
Puss in Boots appears in several stories featuring his wily machinations as man’s helper. Never subservient, he plays--if you’ll forgive the pun--cat and mouse with his targets in the effort to improve his pecunious master’s fortune and thereby his own. 

Not only did Puss jump from the manuscript to the stage to the movie set, but he also acquired a series of stories and multiple versions of his story: 

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