Grimm's Fairy Tales Background

Grimm's Fairy Tales Background

Grimms Fairy Tales refers to a collection of stories released by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the early to mid 1800’s. The first volume of the first edition was released in 1812. It contained 86 stories. An additional volume with 70 more stories followed in 1815. The second edition was released in two parts, one in 1819 and one in 1822. Those contained a total of 170 stories. More editions followed, and lots of editing occurred until the seventh edition in 1857. That edition contained 211 folk stories. Every edition was beautifully illustrated. Originally, these drawings were by Philipp Grot Johann. After his death, the books were illustrated by Robert Leinweber.

Most of the editing that was done to the tales was as a result of the dark and graphic nature of many stories. Extreme violence was a recurring theme, and ideas of a sexual nature came up often. These meant that children couldn’t read many of the stories. In addition to the normal stories, the Brothers Grimm released a “small edition”. This was a collection of fifty tales that was intended directly for a younger audience. It too went through many editions, 10 to be precise.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were born in 1785 and 1786, respectively. They were both well educated, and devout Calvinists. In 1796, their father died, forcing them to learn to be industrious from a very young age. Both brothers would eventually graduate at the head of their respective classes. Originally, both studied law, but they later studied medieval German literature. They also wanted to bring together Germany’s 200 principalities into one large state. Around 1809 they started collecting folk stories. Later, they became employed as librarians, which offered them ample time to research more stories. The Grimms started collecting stories because they believed that the stories could untie Germany as a country. Jacob tended to establish the style of the stories, while Wilhelm was in charge of editing the folk tales. Originally, Wilhelm made the stories for an older audience, but later he made them more accessible to a younger audience.

Originally, the stories found in Grimm’s Fairy Tales were much darker than their current iterations. Over time, the darker parts were edited out.  Many tales had a lot of sexual content, which was the first to go. Also, many evil mothers became evil stepmothers. However, some of the violence, especially violence sent to punish villains, was increased, and became more gory. The tales have had a lasting effect on the world. They are still very popular to read to children all across the world. Interestingly, Hitler actually praised the books. He saw them as tales of children with strong racial instincts seeking a pure race.

The Brothers Grimm also inspired other people to start collecting tales, as the idea that folk tales could unite a country grew. Additionally, many works are based on tales collected by the Brothers Grimm. Movies, such as Cinderella, Snow White, and Tangled are based on tales by the Grimms. There is also an NBC television series called Grimm that takes direct inspiration from the stories. The tales of the Brothers Grimm have inspired children for generations, and will for many more.

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