Wednesday, November 30, 2011

German Lit Month: Grimm's Fairy Tales

Publisher: Avenel Books (not the same edition as the lovely cover to the left)
Editor: Lily Owens
Date: 1981
Format: hardback
Acquired: parents' book
Read: for German Lit Month

One last German book for this month, though this isn't a complete review because I'm nowhere near finishing the book yet. 215 tales at about five a week is going to take much longer than a month to finish! However, I am definitely enjoying the stories. I expected them to be somewhat dry and boring (early 19th century literature has been known to do that), but the translation is very readable, great even for younger children. I'm also having fun analyzing the tales a bit, pulling out which are cautionary, which focus on morality, and which are probably meant to be just entertaining. I'm wondering if the "good servant" motif in several of the stories is perhaps a throwback to feudalism - obey your master and do what is best for him (whether or not he actually knows it), and you shall be infinitely rewarded (a bit of a pipe dream for serfs). I was also delightfully surprised to find at least one story that has been repeated in the Anglo-Appalachian "Jack tales," the one about a guy killing "seven [insects] with a whack" and then having to outsmart all the more malevolent beings others want him to kill based on his supposed physical skill. I've run into several other familiar tales, too.

Normally, by this point in reading a book at a painfully slow rate, I would have given up, but the Brothers Grimms' collection of tales is far too entertaining for that. I'll just keep plugging along at it...maybe I'll have the book finished by summer. :)

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