Grimm's Grimmest Hardcover – Jul 11 2005
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A scholar of fairy tales, Maria Tatar, provides a fascinating introduction about the history and meaning of the stories assembled by the Brothers Grimm. She writes, for example, "We now know that the stories collected in the nineteenth-century folktale anthologies ...had their origins in an irreverent peasant culture that arose in conscious opposition to the feudal state's ruling class. By overdoing it in the realm of storytelling, these narrators were able to alleviate--if only temporarily--some of the tedium that marked the daily life of their audience ... [These tales] can be seen as the ancestors of our urban legends about vanishing hitchhikers and cats accidentally caught in the dryer or as the preliterate equivalents of tabloid tales describing headless bodies found in topless bars. But in many ways, it is the horror film to which the matter and manner of these folktales has most conspicuously migrated. Like horror films, folktales trade in the sensational--breaking taboos and enacting the forbidden with uninhibited energy."
The text of the 19 tales in this collection is based on the 1822 edition of Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Nursery and Household Tales) by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm--before the tales were expurgated and rewritten to make them more "suitable" for children. It's bound in a handsome faux-antique format, and lavishly illustrated by Tracy Arah Dockray (15 full-page color paintings, and a black-and-white drawing on nearly every page). Most of the tales will be unfamiliar to American and English readers, who may be surprised by the graphic descriptions of incest, murder, mutilation, and cannibalism. Chronicle Books has done us a service in helping restore to our adult culture these vivid, evocative folktales. --Fiona Webster --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Maria Tatar (Cambridge, Massachusetts) is one of the world's foremost Grimm scholars and is professor of Germanic languages and literature at Harvard.
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Top Customer Reviews
This collection takes readers closer to the original tales and include incest, sex, and graphic violence. The stories are rough and sometimes hard to understand. For example, I could not understand why the daughter who had fled the castle and the incestuous advances of her father, the king, later purposefully let her identity be known to him.
These stories are excellent reading that should help tellers understand these folk tales better. They may be tellable as written to an adult audience. However, I feel that an audience that is not well-versed in the oral tradition my need some help in understanding them or putting them into context.
The illustrations have a lurid quality that intensifies the feeling of uneasiness.
Source Notes: Selected stories from the 3rd ed. (1822) of Kinder- und Hausmärchen by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
Reviewed by Karen Woodworth-Roman, MS Library Science
Containing cannabilism, incest, murder, sex, and a host of many things not consider "good" for children. Many of these stories evoke visions of Vincent Price rather than the canned, sanitized Disney movies. These are stories of goodness and purity most often - not always! - winning the day. The wicked are punished brutally for their misdeeds.
Printed on yellowed paper with both black and white and color illustrations it feels as if you are reading a book far older than it is. The story structure is rough, crude because these are oral stories written down perhaps for the first time when the Brothers gathered them. The language and pacing stay true to this oral tradition making the reading rough to a reader used to modern well edited stories. I could almost smell the smoke from the poorly vented fireplace as an old grandmother spun a tale to frighten and delight.
Grimm's Grimmest has more incommon with Freddy Kruger and Jeffery Dahmer than Disney - definitely not for the squeamish.
The "graphic descriptions" of the aforementioned evils are grossly overrated. They are merely stated or less yet, alluded to. Even when described, the artistry is such that the reader has difficulty connecting with the text as the descriptions are not picturesque but instead, one dimensional.
Based upon the editorial review, I expected that I would be chilled and thrilled from here to doomsday. Hardly. This was a horror free read, after which I slept like a lamb. This book was the equivalent of a kiddie ride at Six Flags.
However, while it did not deliver the promised goods, I did find it appropriate for a very young adult with whom you are interested in rekindling a love of stories and reading. While tame for adult standards, it might prove to be an odd twist on the traditional *G* rated nursery fare, and could possibly provoke a discussion on the differences between these tales and ones with which they are more familiar.
Then why would anyone want to read them? Well, the archetypal human concerns woven into these macabre tales still pong home with disconcerting clarity, just as they did in feudal Germany hundreds of years ago. Loveless existence, infertility, betrayal, greed, jealously, incest, poverty, disaster; the stories read like a laundry list of the most tragic bits of the human experience and, sadly, the subject matter hasn't changed much, only the manner of expression.
The book opens with a comprehensive introduction by Maria Tatar, which provides an excellent frame of reference for what could otherwise be merely a jumble of surreal images. In the early 1800's two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, collected and retold old German folktales. Discovering a lucrative market for children's morality stories, they created successive revisions targeted especially for children. Sexual content was suppressed, but violence was not. Whether by popular demand of due to quirks of their own, the Grimms in some cases even escalated the violent images.
Viewing the original folktales as allegorical teaching tools, designed to help adults cope with life problems, it all begins to make sense. Each story contains at least one rather heavy-handed lesson -- morality written large: "Greed will get you in the end." "Disobedient children are likely to die a hideous death.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
It was exactly what I was looking for. Arrived just before Christmas and in great shape. Thanks you so much!Published on Jan. 16 2012 by Ash
This book contains the collection of the Grimm's brothers original fairy tales, and mostly gruesome in nature, involving cannibal and gruesome acts. Read morePublished on Feb. 21 2004 by Norliza Ismail
I received this book as a Christmas present last year, and it has quickly become one of my all-time favorites. Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2003 by JoJo Lesher
Liked the illustrations to this volume of the darker tales, especially Juniper Tree, which was an amazing story that makes you realize just how awful the stepmothers of fairy tales... Read morePublished on May 19 2003 by shamrock2014
I grabbed this for free out of a bookclub: and that's about all I'd tell you to do and save your money. So why the two stars, instead of only one? Read morePublished on May 7 2003 by Kindle Customer
About the only fairy tale we will notice is the Cinderella story called Aschenputtal in this book. It is very different from the Cinderella we know. Read morePublished on Jan. 28 2003 by Amazon Customer
If yo enjoy ny type of horror thi book is worth reading. I loe this book, it is my faveorite bookPublished on Jan. 6 2002 by Desi
I thought this book wouold have been much much different. I thought I would be scared beyond the point of being scared. I was dead wrong. Read morePublished on May 7 1999
At least they were readable and the style of writing is more appropriate for young readers. And by that I don't mean these weren't readable because of their content, but rather... Read morePublished on April 19 1999
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