Grimm's Fairy Tales


Author: Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm (1785 – 1863) and Wilhelm Carl Grimm (1786 – 1859)
Translator: Lucy Crane
Publisher: Wordsworth Classics (1993 edition)
Bought from: Book Depository


Jacob and Wilhelm were accomplished linguists and historians. In the early 19th century, Germany was not yet a unified nation but a collection of about 200 warring principalities. The Grimm brothers had a vision for a united and strong German state and began researching its language, literature, mythology and folk tales. They published hundred of works but is best known for their collection fairy tales. The first edition was published as Kinder-und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales) in 1812 and 1814. They followed up with the 2nd edition in 1819 and 1822, 3rd edition in 1837, 4th edition in 1840, 5th edition in 1843, 6th edition in 1850 and finally 7th edition in 1857.

The final edition consists of 200 numbered stories plus ten “Children’s Legends” and is the basis for most modern editions and translations.

The Grimm brothers started collected the folk tales as a nationalistic and scholarly project. As such, some of the stories in the first editions were condemned as unsuitable for children. The sexual references (often involving incest) were much criticised. So, the Grimm brothers purged most of these themes in subsequent editions. However, the violence in the tales did not attract as much criticism so the Grimm brothers actually ratcheted up the violence.

How is the book?

This is a translation by Lucy Crane, first published in New York as Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1882) and in London as Household Tales (1886). It contains 52 tales including The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Hansel and Grethel, Cinderella, Little Red-cap (Little Red Riding Hood), Tom Thumb, The Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Rumpelstiltskin.

This volume also includes line drawings by Lucy Crane’s brother Walter but there are no introductions or notes.

This translation is in the public domain. But this Wordsworth Classics edition, costing only S$3.88, is attractively priced.

Finally …

Cruel and unusual punishments. Child abuse, endangerment and abandonment. Pre-marital sex and bestiality. Definitely not suitable for young children.