Grimm's Fairy Tales (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
  • Grimm's Fairy Tales (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
  • Grimm's Fairy Tales (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Grimm's Fairy Tales (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

3.8 1252
by Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Karl Grimm, Ludwig Emil Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm
     
 

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Grimm’s Fairy Tales—a trove of delights and insights that has been entertaining both young and old since the early 1800s—is literature at its most basic and wonderful. With the famous words “Once upon a time,” Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm immediately transport readers to a magical realm where…  See more details below

Overview

Grimm’s Fairy Tales—a trove of delights and insights that has been entertaining both young and old since the early 1800s—is literature at its most basic and wonderful. With the famous words “Once upon a time,” Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm immediately transport readers to a magical realm where witches, giants, princesses, kings, fairies, goblins, and wizards walk the earth.
When the Brothers Grimm set out to collect stories, their goal was to preserve Germanic folktales—not amuse young children. The hard life of central European peasants was reflected in the often violent and cruel nature of their folktales. However, once the brothers saw how the tales entranced young readers, they began softening some of the harsher aspects to make them more suitable for children. Now beloved the world over, Grimm’s Fairy Tales is a cornerstone of Western culture.
This collection of over 120 of Grimm’s most beloved tales includes such timeless classics as “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “Hansel and Grethel,” “Rapunzel,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “The Frog Prince.” Rich in sense and imagery, these legendary stories still have the power to surprise and enchant.

“It is hardly too much to say,” remarked W. H. Auden, “that these tales rank next to the Bible in importance.”


Unlike Andersen, the Grimms did not invent new tales but collected old ones, with the intention of preserving the oral tradition of the German peasantry. Whether in fact they fulfilled that intention has been questioned. Their tales do afford a glimpse of a world of castles and forests, nobles and peasants, superstitious beliefs and primitive practices that suggest origins at least as old as feudal Europe, and often much older. Some of the tales have been traced back through the centuries by way of earlier versions until they disappear into prehistoric times.
—from the Introduction by Elizabeth Dalton


Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Barnard College, Elizabeth Dalton is the author of Unconscious Structure in “The Idiot”, a psychoanalytic study of Dostoevsky’s novel, and has published fiction and criticism in The New Yorker, Partisan Review, Commentary, and The New York Times Book Review.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were born in the German village of Hanau, Jacob in 1785 and Wilhelm a year later. Erudite, determined, and devoted to each other, the brothers enrolled at the University of Marburg, Jacob in 1802 and Wilhelm in 1803, both intending to study law. There they came under the influence of Professor Friedrich Karl von Savigny, who taught that laws are correctly interpreted by tracing their historical and cultural origins. The brothers adapted von Savigny’s methods to the study of linguistics and philology. Jacob and Wilhelm were also deeply affected by the German Romantic movement, whose emphasis on folk culture would inspire their famous fairy-tale collection, Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Stories), first published in two volumes, in 1812 and 1815.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593083298
Publisher:
Barnes & Noble
Publication date:
09/01/2005
Series:
Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages:
524
Product dimensions:
8.68(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.77(d)

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Introduction and Notes by Elizabeth Dalton

Originally intended for adults, the Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Stories) of the Brothers Grimm has become not only the world’s most important collection of folk and fairy tales, but also the central work in the literary culture of childhood. Paradoxically, the tales have been criticized ever since they first appeared as inappropriate for children—too frank about sex, too violent, too dark. The Grimms themselves began censoring the sex as they brought out successive editions, and subsequent editors and translators have continued the process, modifying the violence as well. But the darkness remains.

These tales of enchantment and ordeal contain terrifying encounters with witches, giants, and devouring beasts. Even the more benign tales usually involve suffering or danger: persecution by a cruel stepmother or abusive father, a battle with a demon, at the very least marriage to a hedgehog or some other strange creature. There are confrontations with death itself, as in “The Three Snake-Leaves” and “The Godfather Death,” and with the enchanted sleep that resembles it, as in “The Glass Coffin” and “Briar Rose,” the Sleeping Beauty story. Yet in spite of these dark and deathly elements, or perhaps even because of them, the Grimms’ tales have a compelling vitality. They are cruder, wilder, more violent, and more fun than the elegant and poignantly beautiful tales of the Grimms’ Danish contemporary Hans Christian Andersen.

Unlike Andersen, the Grimms did not invent new tales but collected old ones, with the intention of preserving the oral tradition of the German peasantry. Whether in fact they fulfilled that intention has been questioned. Their tales do afford a glimpse of a world of castles and forests, nobles and peasants, superstitious beliefs and primitive practices that suggest origins at least as old as feudal Europe, and often much older. Some of the tales have been traced back through the centuries by way of earlier versions until they disappear into prehistoric times.

Residues of the social and material conditions of the societies from which they came can be found in the tales, but transformed, as in a dream, by wish, fear, and fantasy. Indeed, the tales often have the strange logic, the freedom from the constraints of time and space, and the abrupt and violent actions that characterize dreams and that Freud attributed to what he called “primary process,” the kind of thinking that prevails in the unconscious and in childhood. The boundary between reality and fantasy is porous and unstable; everything, including inanimate objects, is alive and responds magically to wishes and fears. There are mysteries and secrets everywhere, as in the lives of children, who are kept in the dark about fundamental realities—sex, death, money, and the whole complex mystery of their parents’ desires and disappointments.

The sense of mystery and the belief in the magical powers of thought never go away entirely, but live on in the adult unconscious, accounting for the inexhaustible appeal of fairy tales. They reappear continually in new forms, not only for children but as sophisticated works for adults, such as Jean Cocteau’s classic film La Belle et la Bête (1946), Donald Barthelme’s ironic postmodern novel Snow White (1967), the unconventional feminist fictions of Angela Carter, the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods (1987), and so on. Most German writers who came after the Grimms tried sooner or later to write a fairy tale. Even the stories of Franz Kafka are like fairy tales gone wrong. The patterns of fantasy and the narrative structures of the tales apparently satisfy profound psychological and aesthetic needs, endlessly generating new versions.

Motifs from the Grimms’ tales also appear in older classic works of fiction and drama, including some that could not possibly have been influenced by them, such as Shakespeare’s plays. In The Merchant of Venice (c. 1595), the riddle of the three caskets posed to the candidates for Portia’s hand is like the “wooer-tests” in many tales. In King Lear (c. 1605), the old king demands from his daughter all her love, including that owed to a husband, like the incestuous king in the Grimms’ tale “Allerleirauh” (“Many Furs”). Lear’s good and loving daughter, Cordelia, is persecuted, like Cinderella, by two wicked elder sisters.

The Cinderella pattern is perhaps the most widespread of all: The transformation of a poor and insignificant girl into a belle is the theme of innumerable novels, plays, and films. In Jane Austen’s Persuasion (1818), for instance, Anne Elliot is treated like a servant by her hateful sisters, yet it is she who wins the love of the princely Captain Wentworth. Isabel Archer, in Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady (1881), even has a fairy godmother—as Charles Perrault’s Cinderella does, although the Grimms’ does not—a male one who leaves her a fortune, enabling her, ironically, to choose the poorest but worst of her canonical three suitors. This figure of the mysterious benefactor, like the dwarf in “The Singing Bone,” recurs frequently in the tales, and also in novels, especially those of Dickens—Magwitch in Great Expectations (1860–1861), for instance. Novels and plays differ from tales in many respects, notably in giving their characters rich inner lives, while in tales psychological conflicts are worked out in action. Nonetheless, the parallels at the level of plot between tales and the larger and more fully developed forms are striking and could make a very long list. It seems that the Kinder- und Hausmärchen form a great repository of narrative motifs that have circulated throughout Europe in various forms for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. How they made their way into the tales is only one of the many unresolved questions associated with the Grimms and their work.

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Grimm's Fairy Tales Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.8 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 1252 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read numerous versions of Grimm's Fairy Tales. You can say, I collect different editions of it. This book however, is edited. It isn't as gruesome or gory as some of the versions are. The stories are still good, and have mainly the same plot, but, details are left out. For example, in the Juniper Tree (page 198), the story is supposed to have the little boy being eaten by his father, unknowingly. In this version, he is just buried under the Juniper Tree, instead of just his bones after the father ate the broth. Also, the song the bird sings is different. Maybe it was just a difference in translators. I really don't know. But, it wasn't as satisfying as other versions of this classic collection.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Edited beyond recognition this edition has been dismembered like a Grimm brothers character, although you'll never know because they took out all of the original, gruesome details.
Duckyknits More than 1 year ago
The Classic Series does it again - the Grimm's Fairy Tales offers the pure and unadulterated versions of the stories. This book offers 600 pages of stories. Although the stories are a bit simple and extreme to modern sensibilities, from a historical context it is a fascinating experience. I wouldn't recommend this to children! But to the academic or historically inclined adult in your life this makes for a fascinating read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
These tales which stand the test of time have become some of mine and my son's favorites. We love to read folklore from all over the world, but Grimm's are some of the best as far as we can see.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My father bought this book for me when I was about 7. Since then I've read at least a dozen times. The stories never get tiring and are something to share with the next generation. It's no wonder the Grimm name as become synonomous with children's fantasy and so many have reinterpreted these classic tales. Should be enjoyed by all ages!
Ashley Wildman More than 1 year ago
absolutely wonderful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In regards to the other reviews, I think I was more pleased with this because I was more aware of the "traditional" versions. This isn't Disney, people! This is GRIMM. And no, it's not politically correct. And no, it's not happily ever after. But if you are interested in past history and past tales, if you want to see the "real" versions (or close to it), read this. It's entertaining, imaginative and what a lot of today's stories are based on.
EugeneTX More than 1 year ago
This book is miserably pathetic and clealy illustrates what well intentioned idiots can to a a memorable book. There is one proviso though...and that is if you purchase this book, also purchase Grimm's Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar who attempts and does salvage the core and meaning of the original verses. One item of concern for Elizabeth Dalton was which end of the donkey, ass, burrow, jenny, or palfrey the animal had the ability to pass gold. It's all in the mind Elizabeth. I promise you that if there did exist a gold passing burro, from whatever end, and I owned it...I would be biting every nugget to test its authenticity. Wouldn't it be nice one day, if we no longer had to put up with prudish censors and mindless editors who decide for me that I cannot handle the material. I resent having to read something ancient through the eys of a super rigid Victorian who sees something sleazy in every situation. Why not leave the original material as it was when it was in its best form? I would recommend buying and reading the book along with Maria Tatar's book Without mario Dalton's book falls flat on its face. It is mindless, dumb, and unfunney until you read the rest of the story.
Taylor-Marie More than 1 year ago
Finally a storybook that contains the true side of the stories and how they were originally told. I was fed up with the Disney version of a couple of the stories, a little too kidish, but these stories can be read by any teen or adult. Varying in pages, each story is long enough to tell the story but short enough that the story doesn't get boring before the end. The Brothers Grimm did a fantastic job with the stories andI recommed this book for anyone who loves tales or short stories. This book is simply a classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Absolutely blown away. I never knew the reality of most of the fairy tales that have been retold and cleaned up for Disney and whomever else wanted tell them. Many of them range from macabre to gruesome...a must read.
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This is a great collection of a very well known classic very interesring stories to read I have found ones I don't even know
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