The Grimm Brothers are probably the most well-known collectors/writers of stories. They were 19th-century academics who were interested in language and culture and were part of a movement that sought to collect folklore. Many others followed in their footsteps in other parts of Europe. Collecting folklore, specifically the oral traditional stories, was one way of making a claim for cultural national unity.
The Grimm Brothers produced collections of what they termed “märchen“, perhaps best translated as “wonder tale.” Grimm’s Fairy Tales was originally known as Children and Household Tales. The first edition, in 1812, contained 86 stories; ta second volume of 70 stories followed in 1815. Over the next years, until the seventh edition of 1857, the brothers added and subtracted stories, and rewrote many of them with an eye toward improving their suitability for children and increasing their suitability in terms of the values of 19th-century German-speaking middle-class societies. This often took the form of removing sexually explicit material, though not violence.
As part of our work on fairy tales, you are choosing one story to work on in-depth, looking at many variations, so you may, for example, find it interesting to look at a story from the 1812 publication and compare it to that of 1857. Or to see how it gets retold again, by another writer as you will see in the third story on this page.
The first story is also an example of what your first presentation might be. Here, I have recorded a telling of “The Three Spinners” using a traditional Grimm text. In your own presentation, you can tell the story however you wish and with whatever text you wish.
Listen and see if this story reminds you of any you know.
Please read/watch/or listen to the following stories:
The Juniper Tree – Text from the Grimm Brothers, translated by D.L. Ashliman
The Elves and the Shoemaker
This is an optional read-aloud of a Grimm Brothers tale.
What are two or three things that you’ve noticed so far in these literary versions of these stories?