Professor Jack Zipes has completed work on the first ever English translation of the original collection of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.
If Disney has taught us anything, it’s that fairy tales, especially ones with the potential for family friendly musical numbers, are the film industry equivalent of gold. There was a time, however, when the fairy tales we all know and love were about as far from child friendly as you could get. The first edition of the Brother Grimm fairytales was infamously dark, featuring tales of sex, murder, cannibalism and more. The first publication of the tale collection, released in 1815, was so gruesome that the Grimms themselves would spend much of the years following deleting the gruesome tales and editing the remaining stories to be tamer, more Christian and a lot less kind to stepmothers. Sadly, an English translation of the original bloody book has never been released, leaving the non-German speakers stuck with the boring old seventh edition released in 1857.
That is, at least, until now. Hoping to give English readers a taste of the Grimm’s original story collection, Jack Zipes, a professor of comparative literature at the University of Minnesota, recently completed a first-of-its-kind English translation of the book’s 1815 release. Zipes translation, entitled The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, includes all 156 stories from the first edition, nearly fifty more than the later collections that would go on to become the standard.
Zipes has also restored many of the darker and racier bits the Grimms removed in later versions. In the tale of Rapunzel, the titular princess’s dalliances with the prince are discovered after she has a “merry time” with him and then inadvertently lets it slip to Mother Gothel that she’s pregnant. In the restored version of Snow White meanwhile, it’s her biological mother who wants her “[stabbed] to death” so she can cook her lungs and liver “with salt and eat them.”
Some of the most gruesome additions, however, come from the stories that were outright removed later volumes. How the Children Played at Slaughtering for instance, focuses on children taking turns pretending to be a butcher and pig. It ends with a young boy slitting his brother’s throat. His mother then stabs him to death in a fury, which gives her other child time to drown in his bath. Understandably perturbed, she hangs herself. Returning home to this horrible scene her husband pulls a Padme and dies of sadness shortly afterward.
While we’re going to go ahead and say this isn’t the sort of book you’d want to read your kids at bedtime, we’d be lying if we said Zipes’ translation didn’t have us intrigued. It’s just interesting to look at stories likes these, many of which are so deeply ingrained in our culture, and see how horribly dark they once were, especially when compared to the sanitized versions we know today. If you’re interested in reading Zipes’ book, it can found at the Princeton University Press.
Source: The Guardian