Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast Nursery rhymes, fables and traditional folk tales all share a close kinship with drunkenness. I mean, obviously, right? They reduce the complications of life to an appealing, elemental simplicity. They create worlds in which inanimate objects miraculously develop the power of speech. And they all favor sing-song diction and attempts to find rhymes where none by rights should exist. (“Beer before liquor, never been sicker,” etc.). And there’s also the matter of occult transmogrification—one drinks a miracle potion and morphs into something else. The weak become strong; the unattractive become glamorous. Benjamin Franklin asked in 1722, “What pleasure can the drunkard have in the reflection, that, while in his cups, he retain’d only the shape of a man, and acted the part of a beast?” Plenty of pleasure, according to history. But those are just the surface connections. Scholars who are pay attention to such things suspect many treasured rhymes and tales, not surprisingly, began steeped in drink, and only later cleaned up and got all snugly with the kids on the divan in the living room. Every culture developed its own fables, folk stories, and rhyming tales—from Aesop to the Brothers Grimm […]

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