Boy did Disney get it wrong! The Original fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, were not about sweetness and light, they were dark and bloody stories meant to frighten or teach. When the brothers compiled their first edition, the stories were even darker still! The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm is a reprint of the Complete First Edition of those stories. Tales of children slaughtering each other, stories about famine… and long-haired Rapunzel gets pregnant!
These Original tales were not really meant for the average middle class reader, and they certainly weren’t meant for children. This was a dangerous time in Europe, war and famine meant that oral tradition was growing darker. The Grimm Brothers wrote the stories as they heard them. Even if that meant that it was Snow White’s mother, and not step-mother, who wanted her dead.
Later editions would tone down the violence.
The Brothers Grimm Changed their Stories
Wilhelm Grimm trimmed a number of stories out of the original volume. Then did some serious editing and changing to the remaining stories. Christian overtones were added, and the stories became more accessible to the middle class…. and their children. In the end, 6 different editions were written and published, each less violent than the last.
That’s not to say that they took out all the blood! When I was growing up, the Grimm stories Mama read to me in German were still darker than Disney sweetness. For example, Cinderella’s step-sisters cut off pieces of their feet to get the slipper to fit… OUCH!
The Original Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm
Today, it is possible to get an English copy of the Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. I love the Scherenschnitte artwork from Andrea Dezsö … it’s dark, and beautiful at the same time. It also contains a history of the Grimm Brothers, and how they went about gathering up the stories.
Remember, this is for adults only…. steer the kids to different versions
And don’t read them alone at night!
Other Grimm’s Fairy Tale Books
Don’t want to get the super scary ones? Try these editions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. There is also an edition in German.
(the Usborne edition is probably the most kid friendly)
An Illustrated Treasury of Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel and many more classic storiesUsborne Illustrated Grimm’s Fairy TalesThe Annotated Brothers Grimm (The Bicentennial Edition)The Complete Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (Wisehouse Classics – The Complete and Authoritative Edition)
Grimm’s Fairy Tales in German