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The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition translated by Jack Zipes is officially released later this week although it is already shipping from online book retailers. If you love Grimms and aren't very fluent in German, this is a book to get excited about. Even if you are fluent, it's pretty exciting, too.
Over the years, one of the top questions I've received as SurLaLune is: "Where are the dark, gritty fairy tales I hear about?" Well, that's a complicated question, but one interpretation of what they ask is: "Where are those lesser edited Grimms' tales that I've heard about?" For some reason, the entirety of the first Grimms' edition has not been translated into English previously. Zipes, in the Acknowledgements of this new book, says that during the Grimms' bicentennial in 2012 he decided, "if nobody was going to undertake this 'task,' I would do it--and do it out of pleasure and to share the unusual tales the Grimms collected as young men when they had not fully realized what a treasure they had uncovered."* After all, the Grimms had seven editions of their famous collection and there were considerable changes between that first and seventh edition.
That's a boon since, after all, Zipes has also translated one of the most used and most recommended editions of Grimms. For that conversation see my blog post: Library Essentials: Picking a Grimm Translation. Nice to have Zipes' translations of both the earliest and later versions of the tales to compare and consider.
From the book's introduction:
In fact, many of the tales in the first editions are more fabulous and baffling than those refined versions in the final edition, for they retain the pungent and naive flavor of the oral tradition. They are stunning narratives precisely because they are so blunt and unpretentious. Moreover, the Grimms had not yet "vaccinated" or censored them with their sentimental Christianity and puritanical ideology.
And, a bonus for scholars like me and some of you, Zipes also translated some of the Grimms' notes to the tales:
As for the sholarly notes to the tales, I have provided a thorough summary of each note to indicate sources, and I have also translated the variants of the tale that I thought were important. These notes reveal, in my opinion, how knowledgeable and erudite the Grimms were at a very young age.
Finally, this means that the table of contents to the book is different from what we consider the standard contents since the Grimms removed and added tales over subsequent editions. Zipes has included several of those omitted tales in his standard Grimms in the appendices but now they are provided in their original context in their original place. For example, "The Summer and Winter Garden"--no. 68 in the first edition and a Beauty and the Beast tale--was omitted in later editions for being too French. In later editions, KHM 68 (the way Grimms tales are referenced by number, abbreviating the title Kinder- und Hausmärchen with the tale's number in the contents) is "The Thief and His Master."
And in this edition, you get the infamous and disturbing "How Some Children Played at Slaughtering." In later editions, you get KHM 22 as "The Riddle" instead which is much more innocuous as the titles imply.
So, yes, I highly recommend this book for fairy tale fans.
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 Dezsö.
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.
*All my quotations from the book are from the unproofed ARC I received several weeks ago. I waited for the final review copy to arrive but the envelope arrived last week split open along a seam and empty with a nice sticker on the front from USPS telling me that my package "Arrived Without Contents." I'm not sure if and when another will arrive.