The Tale of Two Brothers

 

 

“The frog answered, “I do not care for your clothes, your pearls and jewels, nor for your golden crown, but if you will love me and let me be your companion and play-fellow, and sit by you at your little table, and eat off your little golden plate, and drink out of your little cup, and sleep in your little bed – if you will promise me this I will go down below, and bring Fiyou your golden ball up again.”

 The Frog King by the Grimm Brothers

If you were looking for a Christmas gift on December 20, 1812, a good idea would be to head down to your local bookstore and ask for the newly published Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  Well, to be honest you would be looking for the book “Children’s and Household Tales,” written by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm. There were eight-six stories in the first edition, but with persistence and determination, Jacob and Wilhelm collected, by the seventh edition published in 1857, over two hundred stories, each unique and thoroughly entertaining.

John Everett Millais  Cinderella

 

“And when she rose up and the king’s son looked at her face he recognized the beautiful maiden who had danced with him and cried, “That is the true bride.” The step-mother and the two sisters were horrified and became pale with rage, he, however, took Cinderella on his horse and rode away with her.”

Cinderella by the Grimm Bothers

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm did not write the fairy tales.  What they did was even more remarkable. Their love for stories prompted them to use their prodigious scholarly talents to preserve the folklore that had been passed down through generations. They saw the future – industrialization was reshaping the world.  The oral stories passed from one generation to another were at risk.

Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Frog King, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel – we continue to share these stories, in various forms, in books, movies, mini-series, all thanks to Jacob and Wilhelm.

“Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair” by Anne Anderson. And the witch climbed up…
Title page of first volume of Grimms’ Kinder- und Hausmärchen (1819) 2nd Ed.

 

As we enter a new year of reading challenges, may we remember our debt of gratitude to those who preserve our stories, create more stories and give us endless hours of delight.

Dave from Dave Astor on Literature reminds us so eloquently:  Literature can send our minds to another time and place, allowing us to forget our lives and troubles for a few precious hours.  It can educate us about history, open our minds, increase our empathy, make us think, give us things to converse about, and/or provide plenty of excitement along with the escapism.”

13 Comments »

  1. A VERY interesting post, Clanmother! And eloquently written, of course. 🙂 Somehow I had thought the Grimm brothers wrote those stories. So brilliant and insightful of them to have saved those tales by collecting them. (And thanks so much for the mention!)

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    • I alway thought they wrote them, too. Their foresight allowed us to bridge the time before and after industrialization. What I find most interesting is how we have transitioned the stories in our century. Cinderella had had a complete makeover. We added those singing mice!! I am enjoying your book immensely, Dave! Thank you!!!

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      • Foresight is the exact word! And, yes, some of those stories shift with the times. (If singing mice appeared two centuries ago, there might have been a second War of 1812. 🙂 ) Glad you’re enjoying the book!

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  2. Oh the importance of stories – where would we be without them! “When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story’s voice makes everything its own.”
    ― John Berger, Keeping a Rendezvous

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  3. This is a very important post. True–we would have lost–precious stories and histories and a wealth of information that we enjoy and treasure today–LOST–if there had not been those who took time to research, collect and publish the treasures that we enjoy today. This is reason that it is so important to tell our stories, otherwise they will be lost to our children, our families and others who will be interested in our lives and in our times. Thank you for introducing the Grimms brothers to me in a fresh way.

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    • You would be quite interested in this story, as I was. I didn’t know the background of the Brothers Grimm, but now that I have completed a brief overview, I want to find their biographies. These were unusual men who recognized the risk of losing our stories, which give meaning to who we are. I appreciate Madeleine L’Engle’s quote on this subject: “When we lose our myths we lose our place in the universe.”

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    • Very grim indeed, even challenging. The idea of preserving an oral tradition is something that I have been given a great deal of thought to lately. Every family has stories, which are related around dinner tables or at bedtime. But very few are written down because we do not give thought to it until we try to recollect exactly what happened, when, where and who. Sometime to consider for 2020. Thanks for much for your comments! Hugs!

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