Arun Mani J

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

30 April 2024
The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm by Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm, Jack D. Zipe

I once saw a meme where you have two pictures side-by-side. The first one is a nice looking happy face with caption The fairy tales we watch and read. The other picture is a dark scary face with caption Their German variant. Sorry for explaining a meme so badly but the crux is that the original German fairy tales are not a children-friendly happy-lovely one where you have animals dancing, singing and enjoying with the princesses.

Since then, I always wanted to read the original variant but kept forgetting. On one fine weekend, I was so bored. That time, I recalled the plan and immediately looked for the book. The issue was, it was very difficult to get the original version. Because there is no original version. Fairy and folk tales have a lot of variants and there is no definite authentic source.

Thankfully there was this book by Jack D. Zipe, who collected the first edition of Grimm Fairy Tales and made small adjustments (I think?) in terms of language etc. As usual with all the other types of book I read, this book also has small stories with no ocean of adjectives.

Now coming to the contents of book itself. It was not that dark as I expected it to be like. There are some nasty punishments for villains or some tales don’t have a happy ending at all. A few stories are not like hero-centered. That is, the story is there, just as a story. No plot line or anything.

I expected the stories to involve a lot of magic, a lot of talking animals and creativity. But the stories, most of them followed a same template. For example, when a girl goes in search of her prince (who promised to marry her), she goes to the castle, gets a job there and tries to hint the prince of her presence by singing every night.

But that doesn’t mean the stories are boring. I loved the stories involving the Devil. In that, the Devil helps a poor person (really!) in exchange of an agreement like the person’s soul etc. But at the end, the person outsmarts the Devil or the Devil cancels the agreement and let the person live happily.

I also loved the stories which are like X happened, that’s why we have Y. For example, there are stories explaining why goats have shorter tails.

Then there are a few short single page stories that are so random.

Overall, I would say that this book is quite good if you are into fairy tales. Though they might disappoint you, it is really nice to read the stories that belong to a completely different era.