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The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

I inadvertently started this one when I wasn't intending to. Sat next to my six year old daughter who was busy dressing up a cartoon in a cat-themed outfit on her tablet, I suggested I read the first tale to her. She loves reading and being read to, so after an enthusiastic "Yes please" (even though the tablet remained firmly in her hands), I announced 'The Frog King' as the tale of choice.

Now, I'm not ever going to suggest that I know what I'm talking about all of the time, but this one just left me flat! At the end of the three-page short story, both myself and my daughter sat wondering what we had missed. Was there a page missing? No. Did I miss the point entirely? No, I don't think so. In the words of six-year-old Lucy, "Well that was rubbish". The very short tale is about a young princess who loses her ball in a lake, and the frog who retrieves it for her wants to live as her companion in return. Cut a short story shorter, the little girl is a brat who tries to kill the frog, the frog turns into a handsome Prince, the Princess then 'cherished him as promised'. It ends with a character we hadn't met before being released from having a metal cage around his heart, and that's it. The end. No comeuppance for the bratty Princess, no real closure, and seemingly no hidden message or moral.

I'm sure there is more to this than meets the eye however, and I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt - for now. So until I have done some further research into Brothers Grimm and their collection of tales, I will reserve judgement, and put the tome onto my TBR shelf until further notice.


Things have been a bit quiet here recently - on the literary side of things that is! Life in general has been completely hectic and unfortunately as an ambitious mother it generally means that the area that often gets neglected during these busy periods tends to be the books! (Unforgivable, I know!).

However, I am so thankful to the Grimm brothers for keeping their crazy tales short and sweet as it has meant that if I have a spare 5 minutes I can usually manage a couple of their short stories.

I decided to read these in the order they were printed - for no other reason than that it would be easier to keep track as I want to make sure I read them all. I am plodding along at a snail's pace, and have just finished 'Rapunzel'. My thoughts so far are a bit of a mixed bag if I'm brutally honest. Take 'Rapunzel' for example, I have read many different versions of this over the years. Those versions tend to be softened versions of this original while adding their own little elements to it - thanks, Disney, for changing the fairy into Mother Gothel and introducing hair with magical powers and a flower that can keep one eternally young (if only, right!). I love a Disney adaptation as much as the next guy, but I definitely prefer this darker original tale.

What strikes me most is not that the adaptations that followed are so different from the original, but more about how those stories that live on to this day were chosen. None of them seem to stand out in particular, and actually some of them are down right boring or mind-boggling. Take 'Good Bowling and Card Playing' for example. In this tale a king offers his daughter (this seems to be a theme in a lot of these tales) to any man who can look after his castle for 3 nights. A pauper steps up, and on the first night he is disturbed by a creature with nine legs sneaking down the chimney, so naturally he asks for two balls (spoiler - the chimney-character sends down two skulls) so that he can enjoy a game of bowling - in case it's not clear here, the legs are the 'pins'. Trust me when I tell you that it gets stranger, then abruptly ends with a 'the other two nights were the same' comment; which seems a bit like lazy writing to me. However, enough goes on in this tale that I could well imagine it being taken forward by better minds and optimised in the same way as 'Rapunzel', 'Rumpelstiltskin' or 'Hansel and Gretel'. I would love to know what made some Grimm Tales outlive others!

As a little final thought, I want to admit that I purchased this collection of tales because of it's reputation and I wanted to be able to say that I had read them all - not that anyone was asking. Now I'm stuck somewhere between a) not wanting to waste time reading short stories that may be boring, non-sensical or downright bonkers, and b) wanting to (i) experience all that the Grimm Tales have to offer and (ii) be able to say that I have read them all - not that anyone is asking!


Image Courtesy of Microsoft Bing images

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