Brad's Reviews > The Complete Fairy Tales of Brothers Grimm

The Complete Fairy Tales of Brothers Grimm by Jacob Grimm
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's review
Jun 20, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: classic, children, read-to-bronte, read-to-milos, with-my-kids

The Lessons of the Brothers Grimm

The Golden Bird -- If you are the “Chosen One” you can eschew all advice, screw up constantly, and still come out on top.

Hans in Luck -- Half-wits can be happy with anything.

Jorinda and Jorindel -- You can trespass unreservedly, so long as “the Other” owns the land.

The Traveling Musicians -- Robbing the rich to give to yourself is fine if your victim is a robber.

Old Sultan -- Obey your master to the detriment of your friends, especially if your friends threaten your master’s property.

The Straw, The Coal and The Bean -- Death is the funniest joke of all...and tailors are always nice.

Briar Rose -- Disney can reduce anything -- even a story about slights and righteous indignation -- into a ninety minute indoctrination of the fantasy of good and evil.

The Dog and The Sparrow -- Vengeance is fine if you are the first person wronged, but if you wrong one, then are wronged in return you may not seek vengeance -- even if the vengeance wrought upon you is out of proportion for your crime. This is also known as the “carpet bomb Afghanistan” fable.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses -- Listen to whatever an old hag tells you because her ugliness must equal wisdom.

The Fisherman and His Wife -- Be happy with your station in life. Ambition above your station cannot make you happy. Marx would love this one.

The Willow-Wren and the Bear -- No matter the idiocy of a war and its cause, the defeated should pay reparations, regardless of how humiliating.

The Frog Prince -- Spoiled, nasty, unlikable though one may be, if one is royalty and does what one’s father tells one, living happily ever after is one’s right, and one's inevitable destiny.

Cat and Mouse in Partnership -- The meek will inherit nothing. They will be devoured. No idealism here.

The Goose Girl -- The ideal wife should be meek and mild and of the right station. Also, beauty will out.

The Adventures of Chanticleer and Partlet -- “How They Went to the Mountains to Eat Nuts,” “How Chanticleer and Partlet Went to Visit Mr. Korbes,” & “How Partlet Died and was Buried, and How Chanticleer Died of Grief:” Everyone dies, so live for yourself while you can.

Rapunzel -- Vengeance thy name is woman, but if you’re a Prince everything works out in the end.

Fundevogel -- If you’re going to be boiled by a crazy Unless you are a shape shifter...of course.

The Valiant Little Tailor --Make people believe you’re a bad ass and you’ll never have to prove it.

Hansel and Gretel -- If you kill a “godless witch” you will be rewarded beyond the dreams of avarice, and if you are a father who abandons your children at the behest of your second wife but feel bad about it, you too will be rewarded. And if you catch the mouse you can make a hat out of it.

The Mouse, The Bird and the Sausage -- Stick to your proper social roles or you will DIE!

Mother Holle -- If you are ugly you must be lazy. If you are ugly and lazy you will be punished. Your punishment will be having your skin covered in pitch that will never come off, so according to the Grimm Brothers ugly = lazy = black skinned. Yikes.

Little Red-Cap -- Listen to your mother because she is always right, and kill all the predatory wildlife you can because it will eat you otherwise. Oh, and if you are “devoured” by a wolf you can be cut out soon and revived.

The Robber Bridegroom -- Never leave witnesses, and always check for missing body parts.

Tom Thumb -- There’s no place like home is the stated lesson, but the real moral is that cheaters and crooks prosper.

Rumpelstiltskin -- The rich and powerful do not have to honour contracts and agreements. That is the lot of the poor.

Clever Gretel -- Lie your face off to protect the secret of your eating disorder and your alcoholism.

The Old Man and His Grandson (possibly the best story in the tales; it’s certainly one of my favourites) -- Treat others as you’d like to be treated lest you be treated ill.

The Little Peasant -- Lie, cheat, steal and commit murder, even mass murder, and you will flourish, so long as you are preying on the idiocy of your neighbours.

Frederick and Catherine -- Dizzy blondes always prosper.

Sweetheart Roland -- If you love your man and remain faithful, he’ll always come back to you, no matter his own unfaithful transgressions.

Snowdrop (also known as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves) -- Creepy men will always come to the rescue of a too-young girl...if she is lovely enough.

The Pink -- Apparently pink has always been the colour of homosexuality (of course, it could just be that I was feeling particularly gay when I read that night).

Clever Elsie -- Divorce is as simple as a fowling net and bells tied around your moron spouse’s neck. At least if you are a Clever Hans.

The Miser in the Bush -- Someone always pays.

Ashputtel (aka Cinderella) -- The Brothers Grimm really made no sense at all, and they must have had a wicked step-mother of their own. These boys had issues.

The White Snake -- Be kind to lesser beasts and you will some day be rewarded, but you can still kill any domesticated beasts indiscriminately.

The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids -- Predators are evil and must die; prey are good and must live. Prey can also torture and kill predators whenever they want.

The Queen Bee -- Be nice to animals and they will make you richer than Daffy Duck in the Genie's lair.

The Elves and the Shoemaker -- Naked dwarf/elves make kick ass shoes.

The Juniper Tree -- Killers should be killed, so their victims will be born again.

The Turnip -- There is virtue in con artistry.

Clever Hans -- THE BEST STORY EVER! The whole crew giggled their brains out at the escapades of Clever Hans. Of course, it could have been my silly Austrian accent. In fact, every Grimm Tale would be better with an Austrian accent.

The Three Languages & Lily and The Lion -- Leave the fairy tales behind for a few days and they are totally forgettable.

The Fox and The Horse -- Domesticated animals deserve much better than wild ones. Haven't I seen that somewhere before?

The Blue Light -- It’s terrible for a Princess to be forced into menial labour. A capital offence, in fact.

The Raven -- Useless men are the perfect men for a wronged princess.

The Golden Goose -- Always feed homeless men, it’ll make you a King. And here I thought the most you could get from such a deed was a dipped ice cream cone.

The Water of Life -- The good guys always win. Silly isn’t it?

The Twelve Huntsman -- Sexism will always help a lady get her man.

The King of the Golden Mountain -- Midgets and dwarves are nothing but magical. Bad people have black faces. Kings can steal anything they want. That's the Brothers Grimm in a nutshell.

Doctor Knowall -- Idiots are fated to riches. See...there was ntohing new about Forrest Gump.

The Seven Ravens -- Father’s are never responsible for their crimes against their children.

The Wedding of Mrs. Fox -- First Story: Genetic anomalies are easy to overlook if you are a fox. Second Story: Racial purity must be maintained. Hey...weren't these cats German?!

The Salad -- Turn a woman into an ass, and she will drop to her knees and do anything you want, making you happy forever.

The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was -- The longer the story (or title) the more idiotic the moral.

King Grisly-Beard -- Any shrew can be tamed.

Iron Hans -- Cursed Kings will help any knob who can help them break their curse.

Cat-Skin -- There are Kings everywhere, and they’re all looking for a Princess who wants to hide her Princessness. I am not sure that PETA would be impressed with this one.

Snow-white and Rose-red -- Every talking animal is a Prince in disguise’ every pretty little girl is just waiting to be made a Princess; every dwarf is evil.

So who comes out ahead in The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales: The super rich, the rich, all nobility, the stupid, and cute animals.

Who ends up looking bad: any woman who isn’t nobility, step-moms, dwarves, the poor. folks with dark skin.

Yep, this book is crap. It is such crap that nearly every Disney adaptation is an improvement -- seriously. The last thing I can say, the thing I need to say, is YUCH. Yuch-yuchity-yuch-yuch-yuch!

But Clever that was awesome!
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Reading Progress

June 20, 2009 – Shelved
June 20, 2009 – Shelved as: classic
June 20, 2009 – Shelved as: children
June 20, 2009 – Shelved as: read-to-bronte
June 20, 2009 – Shelved as: read-to-milos
June 20, 2009 – Shelved as: with-my-kids
Started Reading
November 13, 2009 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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message 1: by Carol (new)

Carol Hey Brad, just wondering if you have ever read Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales?

message 2: by Brad (last edited Nov 14, 2009 06:33AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Brad Nope, but I'm guessing I should. "The great child psychologist [Bettelheim:] gives us a moving revelation of the enormous and irreplaceable value of fairy tales - how they educate, support and liberate the emotions of children." That description misses the most important "how they" of all, though: how they indoctrinate.

message 3: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker It's quite an interesting book, very Freudian in it's approach in how fairy tales help children negotiate the crucial oral, anal and oedipal phases of their life. But coming back to your comment on indoctrination, isn't that a charge one can lay against all children's stories? A French academic one inveigled against Harry Potter and how it indoctinated children with capitalist and anti-state values.

message 4: by Brad (last edited Nov 14, 2009 08:52AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Brad Absolutely, Whitaker. I think it is a charge that can be leveled at damn near all literature, actually. But it is at least as important to mention its presence as it is to mention the presence of "education, support and the liberation of emotions."

Still, any indoctrination can be derailed by thorough discussion, which is what we had with our kids as I read all these stories out loud to them. But then how many people actually take the time to discuss what the vilification of "black" folk, women, dwarfs & midgets means in the Grimm Fairy Tales with their kids? There are probably quite a few on goodreads, but I'd bet there are very few in the general population, so when there is no discussion going on the issue of indoctrination becomes doubly important, I think.

message 5: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker I like your point, and it is true that most people won't notice the values embedded in these stories much less take the time to talk about the stories with their kids. The word "indoctrinate" made me a little uncomfortable because it's a highly charged word, but placed in context, I fully agree with what you're saying. :-)

Brad "Indoctrination" really does have that prickle raising ability, doesn't it? The things is that I really love some other collections of fairy tales, but those tend to be closer to the way I see the world -- Andersen's probably the best example -- but it is so important to talk about everything we read, and not just parents talking to their kids, but all of us talking about the things we read with anyone we can. It's one of the reasons I love goodreads, so that I can talk about stuff like this with people like you, Whitaker. And you too, Carol.

message 7: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Great review, but you are indoctrinating your kids too? It's just indoctrination I agree with.

message 8: by Carol (new)

Carol Yes, I love book reviews (like yours) and books (like Bettelheim's, though I don't agree with all he writes) that make me think more about what I read.

You might find this book amusing: Politically Correct Bedtime Stories Modern Tales for Our Life & Times

message 9: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! I have this same Bros. Grimm collection, read several times over since I was about 9. My parents didn't discuss books with us so I didn't notice the indoctrination until a teacher pointed it out later on, after it had time to entrench. So this is why I wanted to be pale-skinned, rich, and male! ;)

Jamie Collins Brad, I enjoyed your story synopses, although I personally have warm memories of this collection that have been surfacing as I've read them to my own kids over the last few weeks. We have gleefully mocked the ridiculous tropes while thoroughly enjoying the sheer looniness of the tales. I think they're sufficiently unrealistic to nullify any sort of indoctrination.

message 11: by Brad (new) - rated it 2 stars

Brad We mocked the stories gleefully too, especially "Clever Hans" (c'mon, Jamie, you know you love it!).

message 12: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker This discussion reminds me of growing up as a kid and only having books from the West to read. Looking back now I find it somewhat bizarre that as a child in the tropics I was reading books so very located in temperate zones and hence having no correlation whatsoever to my lived experience. It never occured to me that when the books talked of cold water, it really was cold. As in, water at a temperature that I'd only get if I left a jug of water in the refrigerator. It made for a very odd disjunct between my imaginery life and my real life: one did not echo the other.

message 13: by Brad (new) - rated it 2 stars

Brad Whitaker wrote: "It never occured to me that when the books talked of cold water, it really was cold. As in, water at a temperature that I'd only get if I left a jug of water in the refrigerator...."

Were your "Christmas" experiences similarly structured by stories of snow and snowball fights and reindeer on snowy roofs?

Carol wrote: "You might find this book amusing: Politically Correct Bedtime Stories Modern Tales for Our Life Times"

I remember leafing through that many years ago, probably when it first came out. It looked very funny. I may just pick it up and try it.

message 14: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker Brad wrote: "Were your "Christmas" experiences similarly structured by stories of snow and snowball fights and reindeer on snowy roofs?"

Oh lord, yes! It never even occured to me then that snow was ice. Hence, ice-cold and hard. Hence, a snowball in the face was painful! I always thought of it as coldish and fluffy. Warped, I tell you, warped.

Lovers of liquorice may want to look away now, but food featured large in these books, mostly English. So, things like liquorice, bread with dripping, treacle etc. They always sounded so wonderful and delicious because the kids in the book would always ooh and ahh and otherwise get all orgasmic about them. Then I actually got to England in my early twenties and tried them. Liquorice: vile. Dripping: OMG, it's just rendered animal fat. Treacle: sweet, so so so sweet. So, yeah, another set of childhood illusions shattered.

Dietwald Whitaker wrote: "Brad wrote: "Were your "Christmas" experiences similarly structured by stories of snow and snowball fights and reindeer on snowy roofs?"

Oh lord, yes! It never even occured to me then that snow ..."

Try Dutch licorice. Cente/Muntedrop for starters ;)

message 16: by Inge (new)

Inge Thank you for that review, Brad. It certainly gave me some of my sanity back after reading these stories. Especially 'Clever Hans', that took the cake!

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