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Puss in Boots
Le Chat Botte

"Master Cat; or, The Booted Cat", commonly known as "Puss in Boots", is a French literary fairy tale about a cat who uses trickery and deceit to gain power, wealth, and the hand of a princess in marriage for his penniless and low-born master. The tale was written at the close of the seventeenth century by Charles Perrault. The tale appeared in a handwritten and illustrated manuscript two years before its 1697 publication by Barbin in a collection of eight fairy tales by Perrault called Histoires ou contes du temps passé. The book was an instant success and remains popular.

Perrault's Histoires has had considerable impact on world culture. The frontispiece to the earliest English editions depicts an old woman telling tales to a group of children beneath a placard inscribed "MOTHER GOOSE'S TALES" and is credited with launching the Mother Goose legend in the English-speaking world. "Puss in Boots" has provided inspiration for composers, choreographers, and other artists over the centuries. The cat appears in the third act pas de caractère of Tchaikovsky's ballet The Sleeping Beauty, for example, and makes appearances in other media.

The tale opens with the third and youngest son of a miller receiving his inheritance a cat. At first, the youngest son laments, as the eldest brother gains the mill, and the middle brother attains the mules. The feline is no ordinary cat, however, but one who requests and receives a pair of boots. Determined to make his master's fortune, the cat bags a rabbit in the forest and presents it to the king as a gift from his master, the fictional Marquis of Carabas. The cat continues making gifts of game to the king for several months.

One day, knowing the king and his daughter are traveling by coach along the riverside, the cat persuades his master to remove his clothes and enter the river. The cat disposes of his master's clothing beneath a rock. As the royal coach nears, the cat begins calling for help in great distress, and, when the king stops to investigate, the cat tells him that his master, the Marquis, has been bathing in the river and robbed of his clothing. The king has the young man brought from the river, dressed in a splendid suit of clothes, and seated in the coach with his daughter, who falls in love with him at once.

The cat hurries ahead of the coach, ordering the country folk along the road to tell the king that the land belongs to the "Marquis of Carabas", saying that if they do not he will cut them into mincemeat. The cat then happens upon a castle inhabited by an ogre who is capable of transforming himself into a number of creatures. The ogre displays his ability by changing into a lion, frightening the cat, who then tricks the ogre into changing into a mouse. The cat then pounces upon the mouse and devours it. The king arrives at the castle that formerly belonged to the ogre, and, impressed with the bogus Marquis and his estate, gives the lad the princess in marriage. Thereafter, the cat enjoys life as a great lord who runs after mice only for his own amusement. The tale is followed immediately by two morals: "one stresses the importance of possessing industrie and savoir faire while the other extols the virtues of dress, countenance, and youth to win the heart of a princess."

Brazil, 1994, Puss in Boots

Bulgaria, 2000, Puss in Boots

Equatorial Guinea, 1979, Puss in Boots

France, 1997, Puss in Boots

France, 2008, Puss in Boots (Épinal prints)

Guinea, 2008, Hop-o-My-Thumb

Hungary, 1960, Puss in Boots

Jersey, 1995, Puss in Boots

Mali, 1972, Puss in Boots

Manama, 1971, Puss in Boots

Monaco, 1978, Puss in boots

Mongolia, 1970, Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault

Paraguay, 1982, Boy and Puss

Paraguay, 1982, Puss and rabbits

Paraguay, 1982, Puss and King

Paraguay, 1982, Prince, princess, king

Paraguay, 1982, Giante ogre and Puss

Paraguay, 1982, Puss and mouse

Paraguay, 1982, Prince, princess, puss

Poland, 1968, Puss in Boots

Rumania, 2010, Little Ridding Hood

San-Marino, 2004, Puss in Boots

St. Helena Island, 2000, Puss in Boots

St. Vincent (Grenadines), 1992, Gift for the king

St. Vincent (Grenadines), 1992, Puss brings Marquis in river

St. Vincent (Grenadines), 1992, Puss calls for help

St. Vincent (Grenadines), 1992, King introduces his daughter

St. Vincent (Grenadines), 1992, Puss and reapers

St. Vincent (Grenadines), 1992, Puss received by the Ogre

St. Vincent (Grenadines), 1992, Puss and Lion

St. Vincent (Grenadines), 1992, Puss and Mouse

St. Vincent (Grenadines), 1992, Puss shows the castle

St. Vincent (Grenadines), 1992, Miller's estate

St. Vincent (Grenadines), 1992, Marriage

France, 1987.05.16, Épinal. Poos in the Boots

France, 1997.04.26, Strasbourg. Book of Perrault

France, 2004.04.1011, Epinal. Puss in Boots

Monaco, 1978.11.08, Monaco. Puss in the Boots

Russia, 2004.06.18, Irkutsk. Puss in boots

San-Marino, 2004.08.20, San-Marino. Puss in the Boots

France, 2008, Puss in Boots and Donkey

France, 2008, Shrek

France, 2008, Shrek

France, 2008, Shrek

France, 2010, Puss in Boots

France, 2010, Puss in Boots

France, 2010, Puss in Boots

France, 2010, Puss in Boots

France, 2010, Puss in Boots

USSR, 1981, Puppets of the Theatre of Sergey Obraztsov

France, 1997, Puss in Boots


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