BABA YAGA BURNS PARIS TO THE GROUND: $?, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 18 pgs.

Apr 19, 2016

Author Wren Awry is fascinated by historical myths, especially those connected to fairy tales. She writes of unruly women in early folklore, horror films, and witch hunts, as well as Baba Yaga, a supernatural witch-like woman who normally lives in a house with chicken legs and may help or curse strangers who pass by her house. The myth of the pétroleuses, or fire-wielding women, is another of special fascination. Pétroleuses were—according to rumors—the female supporters of the Paris Commune, a radical socialist and revolutionary government that ruled Paris for a short period in 1871. The French government’s tabloids accused these women of burning down much of Paris during the final days of the Paris Commune. It was easy for the government to circulate rumors about the lower-class women committing arson because the middle and upper class already saw them as radicals and anarchists. Though the Paris Commune in fact did set the fires, there was no secret female supporter group associated with them or setting them. The pétroleuses were a myth. The damage of the rumors had already been done, however. Caricatures of women holding torches and gasoline-soaked rags with unruly looks surfaced in newspapers and later books. Of the thousands of women suspected of being pétroleuses, official trial records show no women convicted of arson. –Tricia (Baba Yaga Burns Paris to the Ground, [email protected],