Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bros Grim

I love fairy tales. Shortly after my daughter was born, I fell in love with the idea of reading her the complete Grimm's fairy tales and went out and bought the books. It only took me a story or two to give up on that idea. The stories that frightened me when I was little are even grislier to adult eyes.

For example:

My mother, she killed me.
My father, he ate me. 
My sister, Marlene, she made sure to see
my bones were gathered secretly, 
bound nicely in silk, just as neat as can be, 
and laid beneath the juniper tree.
Tweet, tweet! What a lovely bird I am!

I'd managed to forget about that one. It's from The Juniper Tree, where, prompted by the devil, the mother slams a chest closed on her son's head, "so hard that his head flew off and fell among the apples." She props him up by the door so that when his sister comes home and touches him the head falls off again. The mother convinces the little girl that she's killed her own brother and the two of them secretly make him into a stew.  The little boy is brought back to life at the end, after his evil mother is crushed under a millstone, but I'm not sure that makes me feel any better.

I abandoned up the idea of reading them to my kids, but I never gave up the idea of reading them all myself. So when the publisher offered to provide me with an ARC of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition, I was more than happy to accept. This is a translation of the first edition of stories published by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. When people talk about the original versions of the stories, I think this is it.

The tales that I wanted to share with my daughter (Rapunzel, The Frog King, Hansel and Gretel, The Brave Little Tailor, Puss in Boots, The Shoemaker and the Elves, Rumplestiltskin) are here, along with some more unsettling stuff. In addition to The Juniper Tree, there's The Little Shroud, about a mother who is so distressed by her little boy's death that he returns from the grave to beg her to stop weeping so that he can sleep in his coffin. How Some Children Played at Slaughtering is a matter of  fact story and just as awful as the title implies.

If you're interested in the history of fairy tales, I recommend this book. The illustrations, created by Andrea Dezso for this translation, are gorgeous. Check out  some of her other work on her Facebook page.

1 comment:

sew.darn.quilt said...

I remember my Mom reading Grimm's Fairy Tales to me and my brother but I cannot recall those that your speaking of, maybe Mom spared us all that particular gore. The copy we had has long since disappeared, it's too bad because I would definitely enjoy reading all the tales as would my eldest son. I love the cover of the book, it would make wonderful needlework pieces.


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