grimm, the brothers

Grimm's Fairy Tales

Children's and Household Tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen) is a collection of German origin fairy tales first published in 1812 by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the Brothers Grimm. The collection is commonly known today as Grimms' Fairy Tales (Grimms Märchen).


In 1803, the Grimms met the Romantics Clemens Brentano and Ludwig Achim von Arnim at the University of Marburg. These two men stirred in the brothers an interest in ancient fairy tales. They started to collect and write down tales that they alleged had been handed down for generations. Among their sources were Dorothea Viehmann, and two Huguenot families, Hassenpflug and Wild, who introduced them to several tales of French origin.

On December 20 1812 they published the first volume of the first edition, containing 86 stories; the second volume of 70 stories followed in 1814. For the second edition, two volumes were issued in 1819 and a third in 1822, totaling 170 tales. The third edition appeared in 1837; fourth edition, 1840; fifth edition, 1843; sixth edition, 1850; seventh edition, 1857. Stories were added, and also subtracted, from one edition to the next, until the seventh held 211 tales.

The first volumes were much criticized because, although they were called "Children's Tales", they were not regarded as suitable for children, both for the scholarly information included and the subject matter. Many changes through the editions—such as turning the wicked mother of the first edition in Snow White and Hansel and Gretel to a stepmother, were probably made with an eye to such suitability. They removed sexual references, such as Rapunzel's betraying the prince by asking why her clothing no longer fit, and thus revealing her pregnancy, but in many respects, violence, particularly when punishing villains, was increased.

The tales were also criticized for being insufficiently german; this not only affected the tales they included, but their language as they changed "Fee" (fairy) to an enchantress or wise woman, every prince to a king's son, every princess to a king's daughter. They also went to considerable effort to "reconstruct" the tales, merging variants (particularly fragmentary ones) and attempting to amend corruptions.

They also added a prologue discussing the extent to which such tales were not, in fact, German, citing the many English and Norwegian analogies to the tales they had collected, and that the most extensive similarities were to Serbian fairy tales; they pointed to the Indian and Persian equivalents as proof that the tales came with the languages as part of the Indo-European heritage.

In 1825 the Brothers published their Kleine Ausgabe or "small edition," a selection of 50 tales designed for child readers. This children's version went through ten editions between 1825 and 1858.

Influence of the book

The influence of these books was widespread. W. H. Auden praised it, during World War II, as one of the founding works of Western culture. The tales themselves have been put to many uses. The Nazis praised them as folkish tales showing children with sound racial instincts seeking racially pure marriage partners, and so strongly that the Allied forces warned against them. Writers about the Holocaust have combined the tales with their memoirs, as Jane Yolen in her Briar Rose.

The work of the Brothers Grimm influenced other collectors, both inspiring them to collect tales and leading them to similarly believe, in a spirit of romantic nationalism, that the fairy tales of a country were particularly representative of it, to the neglect of cross-cultural influence. Among those influenced were the Russian Alexander Afanasyev, the Norwegians Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, the English Joseph Jacobs, and Jeremiah Curtin, an American who collected Irish tales. There was not always a pleased reaction to their collection. Joseph Jacobs was in part inspired by his complaint that English children did not read English fairy tales; in his own words, "What Perrault began, the Grimms completed."

3 Individual works of Wilhelm Grimm include Altdänische Heldenlieder, Balladen und Märchen (Old Danish Heroic Lays, Ballads, and Folktales) in 1811 Über deutsche Runen (On German Runes) in 1821. Die deutsche Heldensage (The German Heroic Legend) in 1829.

List of fairy tales

The code "KHM" stands for Kinder- und Hausmärchen, the original title.

The children's legends

Later additions

In popular culture

Today Grimm's fairy tales have been adapted for both movies and Television. One example is the 1987 anime Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics. The series featured cartoon adaptations of the original tales with very few changes to their original stories. Another adaptation was Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre. Other adaptations have been done by Jim Henson's Muppets. The 2005 film The Brothers Grimm is loosely based on fairy-tale motifs found in the stories.

Several of the tales have gone on to become Disney Animated Features, including Disney's Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, the upcoming Rapunzel, and others.

Music has also been added to the fairy tales. Pyotr Llich Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty is a very famous ballet that is based on the fairy tale. Disney's movie features the music.

In 1988 Stephen Sondheim wrote the musical "Into the Woods", which tells a story of a baker and his wife (who were inspired by the parents in Rapunzel) who want a child, but the witch cast a spell on them that made them barren. The fairy tales that are in this story are Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.

In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, there exists an alternate version of Grimm's Fairy Tales, named Grim Fairy Tales and written by the sisters Agoniza and Eviscera Grim.

Many of the stories' characters are featured or referenced to in the Shrek series of films.

The musical group Nox Arcana pays homage to the Brothers Grimm with their album Grimm Tales which is inspired by the brother's original and more sinister stories.

Game designer American McGee is in the process of designing a series of episodic games known as American McGee's Grimm, in which a troll by the name of Grimm traverses through twenty four Grimm Tales and change them from happy and fun, to dark and scary.

See also


  • Grimm Brothers. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales. New York: Pantheon Books, 1944. ISBN 0-394-49414-6. (in English, based on Margarate Hunt's translation)

External links

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