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.
I enjoyed some of the stories in this book, but they do get tiring after a while because they are very repetitive, e.g. a man does something to win over someone’s daughter, a simple man always wins the princess, etc.
Not only are the stories repetitive but they are also pretty sexist, the daughter is always forced into a marriage that she doesn’t want, she never really gets her say in the matter.
I’m glad I have read the stories because I like hearing where all these tales we know come from, but it is quite clear that the modern tellings have been heavily edited. The original stories are extremely violent, ending in decapitation, eyes being poked out, etc. I definitely wouldn’t let a child read these stories.
What I do find interesting though s that the brothers did state that not all the stories are for children, and when the book was first published they said that parents should skip stories they deemed not appropriate for children.
There are definitely some really disturbing things that happen in the original tales, for example, it is apparently fine for a father to marry his daughter… what!? I know that these tales are really old but still, it’s weird! Also, the girls/women are always the prizes as long as the strange man completes all the tasks laid ahead of him. The tales are also pretty antisemitic which was disturbing and I hated the tales where that was portrayed.
Overall, I’m glad I have read the book and have some information of where the tales come from and what they were like in their original form, but I don’t think I’ll be reading it again.