Friday, October 17, 2014

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm Translated and Edited by Jack Zipes

I think everyone has heard of The Brother's Grimm. But what I didn't know (and what you may not know), is that the most commonly found versions of their fairy-tales are the heavily edited ones. The first edition of their fairy-tales were the least edited of them all. And this book is the first ever English translation of the first edition of the fairy tales.

But mind you, these fairy tales are not meant for children. Several of them are quite gruesome, like "The Children Who Played at Slaughtering", and in the original versions of tales like "Hansel and Greta", the antagonist aren't the stepmothers but the natural mothers of the children.

Reading this book left me inspired. When I say inspired, I mean that I was inspired with the possibility of re-telling this stories. Let's face it, fairy-tales can be retold (you can see my Fairy Tales Retold Challenge posts for reviews of such books). And in their original forms, the fairy tales are short and full of space for a re-telling. I actually bookmarked several tales which I would like to try retelling some day.

Apart from the stories, I really enjoyed reading the preface. Like my Teaser Tuesday quote, the language of the preface reminds me of G.K. Chesterton. Another quote that I really like is:

Every day affords individual people moments when they can shake off everything that is false and can view things from their perspective. 

And another one:

Everything beautiful is golden and strewn with pearls. Even golden people live here. But misfortune is a dark power, a monstrous, cannibalistic giant, who is, however, vanquished, because a good woman, who happily knows how to avert disaster, stands ready to help. 

The last forty or so pages are scholarly notes on the fairy-tales, and literature students may be interested in reading them.

If I saw this book in a bookstore, I would definitely buy it. And if you like fairy tales, I highly recommend you buy this translation.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.


  1. Very, very interesting. So many of us have the "Golden Book" or Disney versions of fairy tales n our heads. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I recently read the Lucy Crane translation of Children and Household Stories by the Grimm Brothers, with more or less the same stories, I suppose. Although I knew I would find the 'almost' original stories that have been edited to fit children, I had no idea how gruesome, and unnervingly symbolic, they are. I was left amazed as well. For someone who wants to get an in-depth idea of stories and their origin, these stories are a brilliant source :)

    Nice review. Could relate to it. :)


I really do appreciate all comments, and I'll try my best to reply within 24 hours!