Yes, it proceeds apace, this here education of mine. Little more than a week after discovering the secret Schlomo in S. S. Freud, I learn that Robert Southey - he of getting-about-with-Coleridge fame (before S.T.C. hitched up with Mahatma Wordsworth) - wrote the prototype to "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". My dealings thus far with R. Southey have mostly devolved around his alleged coinage of "autobiography", a term in which I take considerable professional interest, so it was an unexpected treat to find his sideline in porridge advertisements.
A treat, but also a source of some consternation to one who has long read her three bears story as an exultation of proletarian struggle.
Here's how it all went, before I bumped into Southey's version:
Mama Bear, Papa Bear and Baby Bear lived in a harmonious forest commune producing organic oats and freerange honey. Peace, porridge and beds for all. Papa Bear ate a big, huge bowl of porridge because he was big and huge; Mama Bear got herself a medium-sized bowl of porridge, because she was medium-sized; Baby Bear had a teeny, tiny-sized bowl of porridge, because he was teeny, tiny-sized. Perhaps the Bear Family tended to buy into somewhat socially constructed notions about the relationship between gender and porridge consumption, but Mama Bear had a higher degree in atomic physics and Papa Bear did most of the domestic work, so it was ok. Sexual politics aside, their porridge distribution policies were firmly rooted in Mr Marx's wise instruction: "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs."
In flounces Goldilocks, yellow sausages of hair dangling about her ears. The name's a complete give-away. She's ruling class to her back teeth. Gold-i-locks. Wealth and property. And property, as her behaviour suggests, is theft. She consumes the proletariat's labour; she idles around in their beds while they're out working; she breaks one of their chairs.
The Bears return home en bloc. They roar en bloc. Goldilocks, our arch-capitalist, leaps out of bed where she's been smoking cigars and playing solitaire with her Amex cards, and resolves never to exploit bear labour again. It's a victory for ursine solidarity. United, we roar; divided, we are permanently deprived of our porridge.
All, well and good. But then I read Southey's "Three Bears" and I find there ain't no Goldilocks. No glistening hair sausages. No air of curly blond privilege. Southey's porridge thief is variously a "little old Woman", a "naughty old Woman" and an "impudent, bad old Woman". There's no gold on her head. She's altogether in a bad way, oppressed and marginalised, not least by the narrator, who's intent on her defamation. She eats the Bears' porridge and she sleeps in their beds, sure; by the looks of things, she probably needs to. When Southey's bears come home, they're complete bullies. They roar her out of an upstairs window. Writes Southey, "whether she broke her neck in the fall, or ran into the wood and was lost there, or found her way out of the wood and was taken up by the constable and sent to the House of Correction for a vagrant as she was, I can not tell."
He cannot tell, our narrator. But it's pretty jolly clear that he'd be happy with any of them three outcomes. Those are not the words of a good comrade, Robert Southey.
No wonder Coleridge dumped you for Willie W.