Thursday, October 18, 2012

Grimm Brothers, Very Grim Tales by Neely Tucker

Oh, what are we going to do when all of the 200 Grimms Anniversary is over? All of these wonderful publications and articles!

Here's an article from the Washington Post discussing the Grimms and promoting Maria Tatar's new edition of The Annotated Brothers Grimm (The Bicentennial Edition). There's not too much new in this one for regular readers, but it's still a good start off point for sharing.

From Grimm Brothers, very grim tales by Neely Tucker:

Once published, the stories began to have a slow but steady rise in popularity, with an English translation in 1823. The brothers had anticipated an audience of fellow scholars. They were alarmed when they learned that parents were reading them to children — Rapunzel gets preggers up there in the tower! — and they put out an abridged edition, just for children, of 50 stories.

And over the course of six more editions and 40 years, they further rewrote the sex out of the stories, polished the prose, and made the once-oral tales into increasingly longer, literary flourishes of ad­ven­ture, magic, cruelty and heroism. Stepmothers were inserted as the frequent villain (getting moms off the hook), nobody has sex (at least in the story) and the little “Butcher” story — well, that one was dropped entirely.

By the dawn of the 20th century, the stories were hugely popular. It set into play a new canon of literature — stories for children that featured all the terrors of childhood, set into short, sharp tales that are filled with poison apples, magic spells, talking wolves and cannibals lurking in the shadows.

“It’s really the beginning of children’s imaginative literature,” Tatar says. The kind of book you might find in the Hogwarts library.

1 comment:

  1. I find it just as troubling that people now pigeon-hole the Grimm tales as being "dark and violent" now compared to when fairy tales were pigeon-holed as "sweet and innocent". Plenty of these stories seem like they probably weren't ever all that dark. I think people would be hard pressed to find a really dark version of "The Musicians of Bremen", for example. The European folk tale probably once had just as much variety as the books on our shelves or the shows on the TV.