What happened to fairy tales? A review of "The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm"

The Fairy Tales of the Brothers GrimmReading has been one of my greatest passions my entire life. I love everything about books. To be completely honest, I do have a sort of fetish obsession with books as objects. I love their shapes and the shivering feeling that certain covers can give me. I look forward to starting a new book waiting, with trepidation, to find out what kind of world that particular book is going to unveil to me. If I see a damaged book or whose pages have been torn or dogeared, I feel a physical pain and I end up wondering what kind of human being is capable to “treat” a book like that. 😉 I have the utmost respect for books and I think they should be treated as very precious items.

As a parent, I think it is my duty and my privilege to teach my daughter the importance and the beauty of reading and how books make you learn and understand many things and, therefore, ultimately make you a better person. Fortunately, my daughter loves reading and reading has become an integral part of our daily routine – plus, I do not recall a time when I said no to my daughter asking me to buy her a book.

Having said that, you can now understand my happiness when I came across “The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm”. The purple cover along with the lovely illustration of Sleeping Beauty can by themselves give you a taste of the magic and the beauty that the book contains: it is an amazing collection of twenty-seven of the most enchanting Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales brought together to celebrate their 200th anniversary. There are the most famous fairy tales such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, all “restored” to their original version, as well as lesser-known but, certainly, not less magical tales such as The Golden Goose and The Fisherman and His Wife.

The tales are accompanied by superb vintage illustrations made by important visual artists from the 1820s all the way up to the 1950s. They are so beautiful and unique – the kind of artwork that any mother dreams to decorate her daughter’s bedroom with.

From The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: Snow WhiteDuring the last few years, we have been watching adaptations of The Prince Frog and Rapunzel that went so far from the original version that I’m pretty sure the poor Brothers Grimm could not help but turn in their graves. The female heroines are pictured as some sort of warriors who want to be always in control and believe they know everything but have nothing of the grace and the magic of the original princesses. They are so strong-willed and stubborn that they would emasculate the strongest of the princes!

Do not get me wrong: I do think that women should be strong, independent and self-sufficient, but I am a firm believer that, at least in fairy tales, it is the prince that should fight the dragon and the princess the one who must be rescued. After all, deep inside, isn’t that what every woman dreams of when she is a little girl and, maybe, even afterwards? I really thought it was time to find the flavor of the ancient tales once again and that’s exactly what this book will do for a little girl: open the door to a lost yet enchanting world whose memories will accompany her during the life journey.

Stuff We Like!This is a perfect book for your daughter, niece, granddaughter, your best friend’s child and for any other girl who is willing to dream. However, be mindful that the fairy tales in the book are the original version that was written by the Brothers Grimm, which departs from the milder “Disney-format” adaptations that we are all used to and may therefore make them more suitable for older children who have the maturity to elaborate their contents and put them into context.

I hope you will enjoy it as much as my daughter and I are!

Have a wonderful week.

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0 thoughts on “What happened to fairy tales? A review of "The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm"

  1. kbvollmarblog

    Dear Francesca,
    the first mild adaption of fairie tales have been done by the Grimm brothers themselves. The evil one in the Grimm version is always the stepmother, but originally it was the mother. As an evil mother didn`t fit with the zeitgeist the Grimm brothers changed it. Even before the Disney versions there were some mild adaptions around arguing that those fairy tales are too brutal for children. But as Bruno Bettelheim put it, children have to be confronted with this side of life as well and they love when the evil witch was killed in the baking stove.
    I hope it`s okay for you that I included you and Stefano in my blogroll. I think both of you run really great blogs. It`s a plesure to read your blogs and looked at the marvellous pictures. Thank you so much for sharing.
    With love to you and Stefano from the sunny coast of North Norfolk
    Klausbernd 🙂

    1. Francesca Post author

      Dear Klausbernd,
      We are so honored to be included in your blogroll. I love Dina’s blog and Stefano told me that your blog is amazing so…following you as of now. 🙂

      Thank you for taking the time to comment my post. I was not aware of the fact that originally the evil character was the mother. I found it fascinating. I agree with you: children must face that side of life sooner or later and I think that reading books to them is a wonderful way to help them to put things into context without any particular trauma.
      Xx
      Francesca

      1. kbvollmarblog

        Dear Francesca,
        reading out loud to another person is so healing for both sides. For the reader as well as for the listener. There is still the tradition to read fairie tales to children in Germany. Not only Grimm`s fairie tales are read, H.C. Andersen`s fairie tales are very much liked as well as those of Hauff and Bechstein. Actually every culture has this tradition of reading tales to children before sleeping. But originally those fairie tales were read in the workshops where women were spinning, sowing and weaving. I like especially the fairie tales of the German poets of the romantic time like Brentano, Hoffmann, Tieck. Goethe did write an alchemist fairie tale too “The Fairie Tale of the Green Snake” (I never understood).
        Have a happy weekend!
        Love to you and Stefano
        Klausbernd xxx
        Do you know “Lo cunto de li cunti” by Giambattista Basile from the 17th century? A Italian fairie tale that reminds on “Thousandandone Nights” I really liked to read.

        1. Francesca Post author

          Oh my gosh Klausbernd! I love Andersen’s fairy tales. I still remember the first time I read “the little mermaid”. I though it was so sad yet poetic.
          I didn’t know about the workshops. I can totally picture the women working and listening to the tales.
          I don’t know either the fairy tales by the German poets that you mentioned or the one by Goethe. And – shame on me – I don’t even know the one by Basile. I’ll look into them. Can’t wait to know more. Thank you so much.
          Hope you are having a lovely weekend.
          Xx
          Francesca

          1. kbvollmarblog

            Dear Francesca,
            I did collect fairy tales because one of my publishers was the leading German publisher of fairy tales. But my love for fairy tales started when I was a child. I iked to hear fairy tales. I couldn`t get enough of them.
            Here we have a great long weekend: it`s sunny, warm and nearly no wind.
            All the best
            Klausbernd xxx

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you, J.G. I guess the reason is a general need to go back to the original version. After all, how fascinating can a Disney -like fairy tale can be, especially if you are not a toddler anymore? 😉
      Thank you for your suggestion. I’ll check it out.

  2. the winegetter

    Ha, I mirror your respect for books, for the physical beauty and shape beside their content. A great post. It made me think about how I was reading the Grimm’s stories…which we call “Märchen”, or stories. We don’t use the fairies in their name, and to be honest, most of the stories are not very dreamy or fairy like, much more brutal and outright cruel. We read them from a big book, with wood cut illustrations that was made in Eastern Germany, they were always good at producing good books in the GDR. I loved the stories, but mostly because they scared the heck out of me…

    So the selection in your book must be the softer, tamer ones…it just made me smile. Because when I think of Brothers Grimm, I get shudders…

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you, Oliver. Your thoughtful comment made me realized that the fairy tales in this book may not be suitable for a very young audience and so I decided to add a paragraph to say that.
      Hopefully, one day, you are going to tell me more about your memories about the stories. 🙂
      Stefano and I are looking forward to meeting you and Nina some time soon!

      1. the winegetter

        Same here. Hopefully we can make it happen this year. Else, I have firm intentions of going to one of the Italy centered wine tastings in NYC earlier in 2014…:) In any case, we will meet. I am sure of that.

  3. Heather (Sweet Precision)

    What a wonderful post about books Francesca. I too feel the same way about the physical attributes of a book- its one of the reasons I haven’t been able to purchase a Kindle or book reader. I’m not 100% percent familiar with the Brothers Grimm but it sounds absolutely wonderful!

  4. whiskeytangofoxtrot4

    I loved those tales as a young child as well and found when I reread them to my children I loved them even more.. I now collect the old books from thrift and vintage stores. The original ones with the cloth covers and pretty embellished writing, the ones from childhood. They are such a treasure!

  5. Just Add Attitude

    What a beautiful book, it’s something for your daughter to treasure and perhaps pass on to one of her own children decades hence. Reading is such a gift as it opens up different worlds and is (at least I think) a great teacher of empathy. Lovely post Francesca. 😉

  6. Maria Dernikos

    To me the illustrations in a child’s book are just as important as the story. I was slightly horrified by the idea of females portrayed as warriors? I too never refused my daughter any book she wished for.

  7. Darya

    Oh Francesca, what a lovely post. I always loved fairy tales as a child, but I have also rediscovered them as an adult, and still love them just as much! Now I read them in their “adult” versions, and they can be quite surprising! I grew up surrounded with books, and it hasn’t changed to this day; and my parents also never refused to buy me a book when I asked for it (and I did. Alot.) What a beautiful gift for your child.

  8. apuginthekitchen

    What a lovely book, as a child I was obsessed with fairy tales and loved the Brothers Grimm. I have never seen this copy and love it. The stories are beautiful and those illustrations are amazing. It is so important to instill a love and respect for books to our children.