Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales

Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History

Brothers Grimm
Brothers Grimm

[ source: Wikipedia]

Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm surely never thought that theirs would become a household name around the world or that children in countries far from theirs would know the plots of the stories they recorded by heart. Together, the Grimm brothers had simply hoped to rescue from oblivion the fairy tales they believed to be endangered. Jakob (1785-1863) was a German philologist, jurist, and mythologist. On the other hand, his younger brother Wilhelm (1786-1859) considered himself primarily a writer. They are mainly known today for having popularized an array of notable fairy tales, including Cinderella, The Frog Prince, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, and Snow White.

In the early 1810s, the Grimm brothers decided to write a scholarly study of folktales. Besides a book, their efforts resulted in the creation of a methodology for recording and collecting stories that is still used by folklorists today. The Romanticism of the 19th century had increased the interest in fairy tales, so this was a good juncture for the Grimm brothers to pursue their interests. Their first book of fairy tales, Children's and Household Tales, was published in 1812, and included 86 tales. To collect the stories, the brothers, who shared a house, invited storytellers to their home, and the Grimms made transcriptions of what was told to them. The stories were mainly taken from peasants, but some were recorded from middle-class and aristocratic acquaintances. Some of the Grimm brothers' fairy tales were also taken from French Huguenot sources. The Grimm brothers interpreted the stories they collected as an unadulterated form of national culture and literature. This was based on the belief that national identity was clearly expressed in the common folk and in popular culture.

The 1812 volume of the Grimm brothers' fairy tales was actually criticized strongly for not being appropriate for children, due to the subject matter and the scholarly notes that the Grimms included as supplemental material. In subsequent editions, Wilhelm edited and rewrote the fairy tales. He removed sexual references and added Christian elements, making the stories more acceptable to middle class readers. After 1819, Wilhelm also began to focus on children, adding didactic and moralizing elements to the tales.

Between 1812 and 1857, the Grimm brothers revised and published 17 editions of their first book. The number of stories included in the volume grew from 86 to over 200. The popularity of the book grew with each edition. By the 1870s, the Grimm brothers' fairy tales were widely popular. And in the 20th century, the Grimms' book was considered the second most popular book after the Bible. The Grimms' popularity also extended far past the German-speak world, and today their stories have been translated into over 100 languages. This is quite the accomplishment for the two boys from the small town outside of Frankfurt (Frankfurt vacation rentals | Frankfurt travel guide).

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About this Article

Rachel Hildebrandt

This travel guide has been written by Rachel Hildebrandt.

Starting with her first trip to Germany at the age of 16, Rachel has traveled, worked, and studied in Germany extensively. Although her first encounter with German culture was in Lower Saxony, since that time the focus of her subsequent work as a freelance historian and translator has shifted eastward. Building on her graduate studies in Dresden, Rachel has worked for a variety of German foundations as a historian and translator, and is currently pursuing research pertaining to the Sorbs in Lusatia (eastern Saxony).

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Location: Großgörschenstraße 12, 10829 Berlin, Germany

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