In this book Grimm Legacies The magic Spell of the Grimm's Folk and Fairy Tales by Jack Zipes in a collection of essays created because of the bicentenary of the first edition of Children and Household Tales in 1812 the author will reveal to the readers the various legacies left by the Brothers, in most cases very precious for all of us and our society.
Starting from the story of the Brothers Grimm.
I couldn't believe possible this, but it seems that in the USA Zipes says no one know exactly who the brothers Grimm are and what they did with their immense work although Americans know very well their fairy-tales thanks to the Americanization of their stories, read and seen and lived under so many different aspects thanks to cinema, theater and various other mediums.
The Grimms changed de facto their destiny. At first they studied law but the premature departure of their dad left the family in disastrous economical conditions and the Brothers tried all their best for bettering the financial situation of all their family helping the siblings and receiving some help at first as well.
While they were studying at the university a teacher let them discover the importance of fairy-tales, verses, poems, and the Brothers started to be captivated by this topic. Not only. They asked for help for collecting them. Their friends, people they knew but also peasants were visited by the Brothers interested to discover the fairy-tales of the past and...present. Fairy-tales in fact are a tradition mainly oral. We must thank Dorothea Viehmann for example, the wife of a village tailor for more than 40 tales told to the Brothers Grimm.
These fairy-tales were impressive, sometimes pretty scaring or dirty, for an adult public, and so the Brothers the first ones who re-edited these tales trying to "modernize" them, trying to cementing them with the German culture, giving to them a new appeal.
The Brothers added some "sweetness" removing the adult part of the stories so that their availability could also be extended to a largest public and children although the success with children and fairy-tales was a casualty.
The first edition of their book published in 1812 a success and since there the brothers have worked for enriching and bettering their tales.
Not only. The news that there was an interesting fairy-tale book published in Germany arrived at the ears of a British young man Edgar Taylor. He was a lawyer but he discovered a great passion for fairy-tales and so he decided to contact the Brothers, translating the tales for the british folk.
There's to say that Taylor and his associates adapted the tales and created something different from the Brothers and their conception of these tales but it worked and it was a success.
But no one can be more grateful than Disney to the Brothers Grimm because the major has treated, adapted, modernized the various fairy-tales from decades giving to the viewers, and the spectators the sense of the current culture.
What Zipes remarks is that he hasn't yet seen any good movie based on the biography of the Brothers Grimm in the USA while it would be suggestive! considering the global impact that this American major has in all the world and the fascinating historical moment in which the Brothers lived in.
Why reading this book?
Because you will find all that you want for understand where fairy-tales you tell to your children every night and someone told to you when you were little comes from.
Because it will be a discovery of a birth: the one of a fairy-tale. You will understand what it means for Hollywood the patrimony and legacy left by the Brothers Grimm like also for Germany and their culture.
Because you will understand there was an age when people dreamed of other world, other creatures.
People were in grade of dreaming, without to materializing their horrors, dreams or expectations but projecting them just in their imagination (thank Lord!) and there is nothing more beauty than dreaming.
They weren't rich people, they didn't do this for work. In most cases they were peasants, sat close to their fireplace after dinner and a long day spent in a field, maybe with the companion of other friends, in their hand a good class of red wine and a piece of tart or cake, sharing stories old like the world is. It was because of the necessity of escapism from the reality they lived in maybe or it was because inventing, creating stories a wonderful process of the mind and a remind of what reality could be and mustn't be or sometimes should be. These stories reached the Brothers Grimm and thanks to them we can perpetuate them.
I thank Princeton University Press for the physical copy of this beautiful book!
Anna Maria Polidori