Vasha7's Reviews > Grimm's Grimmest

Grimm's Grimmest by Jacob Grimm
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May 28, 2011

really liked it
Read in March, 2010

Some of these excerpts from Grimm's fairy tales are stories familiar to English-speaking readers, though with all the crude and violent parts left in: Cinderella (Aschenputtel), Rapunzel, The Goose Girl, etc. There are also less-familiar fairy tales and other sorts of tales too. It's all good stuff! One or two stories read less smoothly than the rest, but most of them were fun and dramatic.

I noticed that they fell into a few categories with regard to their structure and their themes. Overwhelmingly the commonest was the one I call the "recognition of the bride" plot. In "The Goose Maid", "The Girl Without Hands", "Allerleirauh", "Aschenputtel", and "Little Brother and Little Sister", in the first part the heroine gets into a situation where she's in trouble, disguised, or hidden, and the bridegroom has to find and recognize her before they can get married; sometimes he has to distinguish her from a false bride. There are many possible variants on this: possibly the most complex here is "Little Brother and Little Sister", which has two recognition plots, the first one anticlimactic, and the role of the "bride" is doubled between the sister and the brother. "The Juniper Tree" has a captivity-release/recognition structure ending with the child being recognized by his father and the family being reunited. "Rapunzel" initially seems like it will follow this pattern, but it doesn't.

"The Three Snake Leaves" and "The Crows" are moral tales based on reversal: the contrasting fates of good and bad protagonists. "Fowler's Fowl" and "The Robber Bridegroom" are tales of a brave heroine who goes into a bad husband's house and draws him out of it to his doom. "The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn How to Shudder" and "Hans My Hedgehog" are stories of intrepid fools who seek their fortune and find it. "Prudent Hans" and "The Three Army Surgeons" are mocking jokes. And finally, perhaps most startling of all, we have "The Dog and the Sparrow" and "The Death of the Little Hen", in which an animal tale is an opportunity to let loose a sheer torrent of destruction.
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