22 Jun 2016



INNER FRONT COVER BLURB: When Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published their Children's and Household Tales in 1812, followed by a second volume in 1815, they had no idea that such stories as "Rapunzel," "Hansel and Gretel," and "Cinderella" would become the most celebrated in the world. Yet few people today are familiar with the majority of tales from the two early volumes, since in the next four decades the Grimms would publish six other editions, each extensively revised in content and style. For the very first time, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm makes available in English all 156 stories from the 1812 and 1815 editions. These narrative gems, newly translated and brought together in one beautiful book, are accompanied by sumptuous new illustrations from award-winning artist Andrea Dezso.

From "The Frog King" to "The Golden Key," wondrous worlds unfold--heroes and heroines are rewarded, weaker animals triumph over the strong, and simple bumpkins prove themselves not so simple after all. Esteemed fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes offers accessible translations that retain the spare description and engaging storytelling style of the originals. Indeed, this is what makes the tales from the 1812 and 1815 editions unique--they reflect diverse voices, rooted in oral traditions, that are absent from the Grimms' later, more embellished collections of tales. Zipes's introduction gives important historical context, and the book includes the Grimms' prefaces and notes. A delight to read, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm presents these peerless stories to a whole new generation of readers.

ONE OF MY FAVOURITE STORIES: The Stolen Pennies. (Whilst not an exact word for word version as the one featured in this book, the version featured here is a near enough translation. TT)

SOURCE: A present from Mr T.

MY THOUGHTS: Phew! So much darker than the versions I can remember being read/told as a child. As the translator warns us in his excellent introduction these most certainly are not bed time stories for little ones.

As far as I'm concerned both a hit and miss. 

Riveting to realise just how sexist, racist (in particular antisemitic) and generally 'politically incorrect' the original tales were. Fascinating to note how the moral at the heart of the stories resonated in a way that they hadn't when I was younger. Interesting to compare and contrast them with the more sanitised versions that I came to know and love as a girl BUT ...

With lots of repetitive themes and plot lines, many of them so much so that some of the stories felt almost like carbon copies, I often felt an uneasy sense of deja vu.

For some readers perhaps a collection best enjoyed by the picking out of their favourite stories to see how they have changed over the years (Puss In Boots was a particular revelation to me). For others perhaps a collection best enjoyed for the stories they didn't know - if anything like me you'll be surprised at just how many there actually are. In hindsight, for me personally, probably a collection best read as and when rather than in one fell sweep as what I hadn't expected/had perhaps forgotten was how formulaic the characters actually could be. 

Combine these two factors together and I found myself easily distracted and, though it pains me to say it, occasionally bored.


Kelly said...

A very interesting review, Tracy. I think I might have a collection of the original stories around my house somewhere... I might have to look for it. I've always been told that, in their darkness, they were meant to inspire warnings through fear as well as teach lessons.

I've read several books from the last century or two this year and found many of them are filled with language and themes that wouldn't be tolerated today. Not looking for an excuse, but it's just how things were. I'm currently reading Gone With the Wind and you can imagine how some would feel about that one!

Literary Feline said...

I may someday read all of these. It's so fascinating to me how the stories have evolved in modern tellings. I think it's important to be versed in the originals --they are so much a part of our history and culture.

Sherry Ellis said...

I have read these original tales, and they are indeed dark!

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I have only read the versions of these stories which were available in my youth and I guess that as with many others of the classics, the originals have to my shame, fallen by the wayside.

There is so much of our literature being re-written and in MHO plagiarised, in an effort to retain whatever passes for political correctness in the moment, that much of it is becoming unrecognisable.

The language of these books, are by their very definition as 'classics', part of our cultural heritage and should remain untouched and unaltered.

As you say, this is probably a book to dip in and out of, rather than to try and digest in one marathon sitting - but nonetheless, I am guessing that it was very interesting and something completely different to your usual reading.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)


Melliane said...

I have stories but not sure if it's the original ones or not but it's always interesting to read that

Brian Joseph said...

I have wanted to read these stories in their original form for awhile. I have heard that how dark they were. I think that I was read mostly toned down versions as a child.

The racism and sexism that you mention reminds us just how much the world changed.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I think it would be quite fascinating to read the original tales. I read some old versions when I was younger, but I would be curious how different they were from these. I do like the advice of reading the stories in small chunks since the stories, characters, and themes seem so similar. Thanks for sharing!

Aunt Mary said...

Interesting but dark tales, you are right they are not the bed time stories for kids. Great review Tracy :)

Gina R said...

Funny how the originals were so much darker yet heavy hitting, isn't it? Makes one wonder sometimes if by "watering them down" the true message gets muddled as well. I agree with you though, reading it straight through may price too repetitive... best to just skip around a bit and sample from time to time. Great post!

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

I like the cover of this edition, and how sweet of Mr. T to get it as a gift for you, Tracy. I had a good time reading the less popular stories of Hans and might, too, with stories of the Grimms.