But you know the rest of the story—they all lived happily ever after.
Actually there were hundreds of stories, scattered about in different collections that the Grimm brothers published or collected in their lifetime. I have the Bantam Jack Zipes compilation and translation, which seems to be the most comprehensive. The first edition came out in 1987, which contains 32 never-published-in-English stories, but as I did research, I realized that two more editions have since been published, one in 1992, and a third in 2002, which contains over sixty tales not included in the first edition. As I am writing this, I am waiting for that one to arrive from Amazon, as I just ordered it. But, really, discovering all the tales collected by the Grimm brothers may never be brought to completion. Certainly, the more research I do, the more massive becomes the data!
And as for the tales, not all of them end happily. In fact, this truly strange hodge-podge of lore, many with religious themes, run the whole gamut from clever to utterly stupid, to perplexing to humorous. Many are well known, but most of them are, at least now, relatively obscure. They range from very short stories to just a couple paragraphs. Many are based on a moral lesson, but in others the stupid, lazy or criminal characters win the day. Castles and forests are the main background, and there are lots of witches and fairies and sorcerers. And most of the male characters are named Hans. Seriously! There is a huge chasm between the wealthy and those in poverty, but the wealthy seem to be the heroes. If the poor are heroes, it is because they suddenly became wealthy. I'm not sure that's a good lesson, in fact, I have real issues with that. and I have an even bigger issues that without exception, the fat and ugly women were always the wicked ones. I believe these have been banned from schools and that's probably a good call. However, adults can have fun with them, and children, too, if there is an adult to explain the prejudice and bigotry. I read these over a very long period of time, because sitting and reading them all at once would have made my mind go loopy! There are certain recurring themes that repeat over and over and OVER. Reading a few at a time keeps them fresh, but looking back now, they are all a-jumble. Fortunately I made notes!
A couple more points to keep in mind. The Brothers Grimm did not write these tales, they collected them, compiled them, and had them published, along with all kinds of legends and other folklore. (Some people think they were the author, which I did at one point quite a while back.) These are only the fairy tales, but the Grimms didn't stop there. The Pied Piper of Hamelin, for instance, is a legend published by them, but it is not a fairy tale. A book of German Legends (Deutsche Sagen) containing 585 legends was published and is available in translation, but it is horrendously expensive at this point, and I have not been able to find a free eBook version in English. It will eventually show up, no doubt. Also keep in mind that the Grimms were German and they collected German stories, tales and lore. There are many, many popular fairy tales that are from other countries or ethnic groups that are not Grimms. Beauty and the Beast comes to mind, which was originally written by a French woman, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740, however, the Grimm Brothers recorded a similar tale, The Summer and Winter Garden. Similar tales, in other words are found throughout numerous nationalities, with major or minor changes. It all gets very complicated.
So, this particular feature will focus on just the fairy tales published by the Brothers Grimm. At some point, no doubt, I will explore their other genres, but those will appear on other pages. However, I will include books related to the fairy tales here, such as coloring books and whatever else comes along.
And one last point about the tales—they certainly supplied fodder for other art forms. I will not even attempt to list movies, etc. that are based on them. However, I will include fine art and illustrations, which abound. And another interesting point: according to Google Books, these stories are the most widely read collections in the world, second only to the Bible!
Below, Hansel and Gretel, by Arthur Rackham and Sleeping Beauty (Brier Rose) by Walter Crane
Now, having mentioned all that about the tales, here is a bit about the Brothers Grimm.
Wikipedia, of course,
has a typical lengthy article complete with the usual and valuable links, but I found the Introduction by Zipes much more interesting because he gives us a
peep into the Grimm household, and paints a portrait of the two brothers as exemplary human beings.
Jacob Ludwig (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Carl (1786-1859) were the first two of the six surviving children of Philipp Wilhelm and Dorothea Grimm (there were nine births all together). Philipp was an attorney, and was appointed district judge in Steinau, near Kassel around 1791. They were quite well-off. The children received a good education, but Jacob and Wilhelm were particularly studious. However, their father died suddenly in 1796, leaving the family in poverty. Dorothea's sister was able to provide for necessities, and enabled the two brothers to study at the Lyzeum in Kassel. According to Zipes, they were treated as social inferiors at this prestigious school, and elsewhere, inspiring them all the more to excel in their studies. Graduating at the heads of their classes, they both went to study law at the University of Marburg, where they also were treated as inferiors. However. they were noticed by Professor Karl von Savigny, who inspired their interest in the study of ancient German literature and folklore. Jacob left the University and returned to Kassel to support the family, securing a position as the secretary for the Kassel War Commission while Wilhelm remained at school to complete his degree. Here, Jacob began his research into ancient German literature, later assisted by his brother.
At this time, there was a great deal of political upheaval, and Jacob lost his job when Kassel was invaded by the French. But in 1808, he obtained the position of King Jérôme's private librarian. By 1811, the Grimm brothers began publishing the fruits of their labors. Kinder-und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), a collection of fairy tales, was published in 1812. Wilhelm soon obtained the position of second librarian with Jacob, and the second volume of tales was published in 1815.
The political situation in Germany at the time caused dismay for the brothers, but it seems they were always able to obtain what they needed to support the family, and keep up with their research. In all, Jacob published 21 volumes and Wilhelm 14. They published eight together and were working on a monumental German dictionary that was only finished to the letter "f." Very interesting life story for the brothers. I strongly suggest reading up on them.
The Third Edition
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