Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World - summer 2013 discussion

Household Stories by the Brothers Grimm
Week 01 - Grimm > Household Stories - while you read

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Bojana (bpop) A thread to discuss Household Stories by the Brothers Grimm while reading it. Please remember to mark spoilers.

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Shanda Vance-markham | 5 comments Anyone in the June 2013 class here?

Miriam (itmustbemiriam) Everyone here is in the June 2013 class.

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Shanda Vance-markham | 5 comments just checking, it is awful quiet :)

Catherine (catjackson) I've read through the Crane translation of the tales and finished just a day ago. This essay that we are writing is not going to be an easy one for me; I just don't like these tales that much. It wasn't that they were too violent, but that they were too...bland. And that many of them were so similar to each other. Maybe that's what I need to write about. AHA.

Miriam (itmustbemiriam) That's the problem I'm having too, they're just not holding my interest at all. I'll read maybe three stories a day. I need to buckle down, though. At this rate, I'll never finish!

Nina (exploringwmc) I'm trying to read them slowly, taking a break between each one, in the hope that they might make some sort of sense to me. Being Norwegian we learned a LOT about fairy tales in school, but these make precious little sense so far. Reminding myself that the book is called Household Stories, not Moralising Household Fairytales... ;o)

Bojana (bpop) I am also having trouble coming up with a topic for the essay. The stories didn't motivate me enough I guess. And yes, a lot of them are similar to a point where it is basically the same story told twice. I will however sit down and write something. Anything. I figure, a mediocre essay is better than skipping the assignment alltogether.

Bojana (bpop) I think that keeping in mind that the stores were actually meant for children makes reading easier. They do paint a very black and white picture of the world, and they are moralising times, but I guess that makes sense. In a way, they represent the world in a way a child would view it.

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Sana (ofkittiesandbooks) Thank god! I thought I was the only one having problems with the reading and the theme for the essay! The stories seem monotonous and I end up reading something else all together. uhhhg! I do hope other books are more interesting than this one.

Bojana (bpop) Sana wrote: " I do hope other books are more interesting than this one."
I can guarantee they are. I think there should be a disclaimer at the beginning of the course saying exactly that :)

Miriam (itmustbemiriam) I've found two themes that I would feel comfortable writing about, but now I have to motivate myself to actually finish the book in order to have a real frame of reference.

Sana, I am really excited to read the rest of the books in this class. Alice in Wonderland is great, as are Dracula and Frankenstein. I think we're just off to a slow start with these stories.

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Sana (ofkittiesandbooks) Well I hope you guys are right cause surprisingly I haven't read any of the books in the course so I was really excited but this book was like damper on the whole excitement thing. I do hope I can write something! Its been ages since I did some theoretical work so I am having a little trouble.

Miriam (itmustbemiriam) I'm having the opposite problem! I've got ideas about two different essays I could write, and I'm not sure which would be stronger/easier to condense into ~300 words. I work two jobs, so I want to use my time efficiently, or else I would just write them both and see which I like best.

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Sana (ofkittiesandbooks) wow. That's like amazing! I have read like 50 odd pages maybe if I read more I'll get some inspiration! Fingers crossed. :)

Catherine (catjackson) Yes, the other books are great. I've read Frankenstein a number of times and still love going back to it. Reading Dracula now, for the first time, and am finding it's not quite what I thought; it's better than I thought. Maybe I've been turned off by sparkly vampires :>. Well, I will come up with some topic and write about it just so I have that first essay done. We can't like all the readings offered in a course and I'm glad I do like so many of them.

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Shanda Vance-markham | 5 comments for those having trouble looking for a theme, have you thought to try to find a pattern that is common in all the stories? Certain numbers? Use of blood and death. How daughters vs. step-daughters are portrayed? How men compared to boys are portrayed. The common use of the "King". How women in general are portrayed (ie fixing food, commanded, given to, etc) in relation to the time the books were written, what is the impact of that portrayal on current times? I too am finding difficulty reading these. I'm about halfway done, but I'm not doing that "thoughtful" reading that I should. So I switched to looking for overall commonalities. I much prefer to the TV show Grimm!! LOL

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Nina (exploringwmc) I read Dracula earlier this year and loved it - even though it's a type of book I didn't think I would enjoy at all (I read it with a book club here on Goodreads). I've been raving about it so much that my friends are starting to read it now! I also read Little Brother just before the course started, and I loved that one, too - a production company has bought the rights to it, so I hope a film will come soon! Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are old favourites. So it is boding well for the other books, but I can't really find rhyme nor reason to this one yet. I guess maybe I should stop reading so slowly and just get through it, because as it is I am reading other books to keep me entertained! ;o)

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Sana (ofkittiesandbooks) Shanda~ That was really helpful!! Thank you! :)

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Shanda Vance-markham | 5 comments sometimes you just need some ideas and then they start flooding in!! I'm sure everyone can find way more than that :)

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Michelle (michelledunbar) | 1 comments I'm on the relationship course too, so apart from watching the intro vids, I've done nothing for this one yet. Planning on reading Grimm either tomorrow or sunday though. Just stopping by to say hello.

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Charlie (demoncard) I have taken to writing down things that are similar to each other. Numbers, how many times things happen, religious symbols etc...
Then I guess I'll go over it and find my theme. I know it was a moralizing time and I've noticed a lot of religious imagery as well as magical imagery. Like mantras and when Cinderella says
"Little tree, little tree, shake over me, That silver and gold may come down and cover me." And what she says to the birds are magical mantras. And the talk of heaven and being pious. (I'm just using Cinderella as an example because it's the last one I read.)

I love Grimms but to the people who aren't liking them, the other books are better, I assure you. My boyfriend loves Ursula K. LeGuin and has told me that The Left Hand of Darkness is really fantastic, as are all of her writings. I love Alice and Dracula. As well as Frankenstein and Poe. I haven't read much of Hawthorne though.

Miriam (itmustbemiriam) I'm excited to read The Martian Chronicles - Bradbury is one of my favorite authors, but that's one I've never gotten around to reading.

William (wcoles) | 8 comments Wishing everyone the best of luck with your essays. We are down to the wire! I finished the Tales this morning. I found it helpful to keep a "Reader's Journal", essentially a word processor file, where I made notes as I read the Tales. A lot of the time my notes were just free writing. After reading several tales in one sitting, I would just start typing thoughts that came to my mind from the readings, different impressions I got from the stories, patterns that began to emerge, things I liked about the tales, things I had difficulty with, etc. I think I found a working thesis. It needs some tweaking and I need to back it up with examples from the tales, but it's a start. Today I want to refine it, and get that first essay drafted. Cheers.

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Saurio Saurio | 1 comments Bojana wrote: "I think that keeping in mind that the stores were actually meant for children "

In fact, the stories WEREN'T meant for children. These are folk tales the Grimms collected around Germany.

Most of them are myths toned down (I think Mircea Eliade wrote something about The Frog Prince), although neither sex and violence are much hidden (violence not at all, sex a little, but there are so many sexual symbols that they are Freudian heaven).

It also helps to read Joseph Campbell's "The hero with thousand faces" to understand some of them.
In many myths there is an evil King that feels himself threatened by a newborn that would take his place, so he orders to kill the baby. But somehow the baby is saved and raised by peasants. When the baby grows becomes the hero that defeats the evil King. That is clearly seen in the myths of Jesus, Mithra, Moses, Oedipus, Zeus, Dionisios and Luke Skywalker (yes, Lucas used Campbell's book for Star Wars).

That same pattern can be seen here, although most of the times the "evil King" is actually an "evil stepmother" and the hero a heroine. Look for that pattern and you'll have a winner.

Or go to the "sexual symbolism" thesis. "Sexual symbolism" always pays, everything is about sex. Grimm's tales? Sex. Dracula? Sex. Frankenstein? Sex (or the lack of it). Left hand of darkness? Sex. Alice in Wonderland? Sex (but mostly Drugs, and a little of Rock'n roll, too). Everything has to do with sex. ;-)

Bojana (bpop) I have misspoken, no exactly written, but certainly told often as morale stories to children. After all, the Grimm brothers did collect the stories, they did not invent them. And I do think that they paint a world that is aligned with a child's perspective. A place where an evil step mother can be nothing more then evil, and good deeds are always rewarded, and characters that are described as handsome are beautiful on the inside as well, and so on, and so on. I admit that there are a lot of adult themes through out the stories, but they are again presented in a more subtle and naive way. At least compared to other peaces literature.

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Nina (exploringwmc) Fairytales weren't synonymous with Disney back when they were first collected. Fairytales used to be quite gruesome, but back then people believed it was healthy for children to be scared a little. Many modern-day parents complain that the fairytales are too scary for their children, but some research suggests they had it right in the old days and that it is healthy for children to learn the difference between good and evil early on. It also shows that children have no problem differentiating between fact and fiction. It is an interesting area of study. Then again, I am not sure all the stories in Household Stories are fairytales in the true sense of the word, which may be why the title is what it is. Some of the stories seem to have as their only purpose to be entertaining or diverting. They certainly aren't the moralising stories I grew up with in Norway, in which young lads conquer trolls through sheer ingenuity. ;o)

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William (wcoles) | 8 comments Just to add a bit to this interesting dialog...the original title in German was, I believe, "Kinder und Hausmärchen". One translation of this into English is Children and Household Tales. So, there was definitely at least *some* intent for children (kinder) to read these tales (or have them read to them), but not only for children. And I agree with Neens here, these are not the sanitized, repacked version that Disney put out. Also, we have a different idea of what is "appropriate" for children now then they did back then.

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Nina (exploringwmc) I still haven't managed to finish this book - I'm 73% into it now. I based my essay on just a few stories and hope I'll get away with it. I'm still reading a story or two - or three - every day, but it's slow going. Luckily, professor Rabkin's lectures are brilliant, so that is very motivating. I'd like to reread Lewis Carroll in time for the paper as well, as it's more than 10 years since I last read the books, so I really, really need to finish Household Stories now...

Miriam (itmustbemiriam) Neens wrote: "I still haven't managed to finish this book - I'm 73% into it now. I based my essay on just a few stories and hope I'll get away with it. "

I'm right there with you! I can't bring myself to abandon the Stories now that I'm done with the essay, but I really need to get a move on if I'm going to finish Carroll in time.

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Nina (exploringwmc) I've had a look at the book's page and there seems to be quite a few of us still reading it - unless people have forgotten to mark it as read, that is. I'm at 85% now, this project is starting to seem never-ending... ;o)

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Savage Mind | 2 comments Guys, I joined the course which is starting tomorrow.
Can somebody enlighten me about what kind of essay we have to read on the readings each week? Is there a certain question or something?
Thanks in advance

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Anna | 4 comments Theodora, there're no specific questions - you just pick up on ideas while you read (a certain symbolism you notice, what the author could have meant by writing in a certain way etc), then choose one and write about it. There's no wrong so long as you give evidence that proves you right. And be sure to watch introductory 0 Unit videos to have you started.

Hope you'll have at least as much fun doing the curse as I did!

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Savage Mind | 2 comments Thank you so much for your answer! It sounds like a lot of fun -although, this freedom just made me nervous :/
Hope I get some inspiration!
Thanks you again!

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