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‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales: 64 Dark Original Tales’, by Jacob Grimm – book review

Grimm's Fairy Tales: 64 Dark Original TalesGrimm’s Fairy Tales: 64 Dark Original Tales by Jacob Grimm

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


When I was a child, Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson’s light tales were more fun than German Brother Grimm’s comparatively dark tales. Now that I have read Grimm’s Fairy Tales: 64 Dark Original Tales as a child in a grown-up body and mind conditioned in the anfractuous tidal waves of life, I now know why the Grimm’s tales are regarded as classic literature, not just for children for also for adults, especially those with defiant spirits of abandoning power to believe the mysterious and magical, all the spellbinding enchantment springing from these fascinating fairy tales the Grimm Brothers provide to readers.

The book contains 64 stories originally published in the Grimm’s The Nursery and Household Tales from 1812 to 1814 as separate volumes. The original intention of the compendium of oral German folk tales is to study German culture and literature that can also be referenced as an academic text. Both Wilhelm and Jacob were philology students, lexicography, history, and Germany’s literature while studying law at university. For this context, during the Third Reich, the Nazis liked to use the book as a token propaganda textbook to promote their racial ideology against Grimm’s volition to preserve the cultural artifacts and heritage in anthropological perspectives. Suppose the Grimm indeed meant to use the tales to prove Aryan superiority. Why would they include the sinister and even immoral contents of some of the collection’s stories without rewriting them to immaculately vivacious and blissfully happy fairy tales suitable for the best race endowed with goodness and beauty?

Some of the tales are shockingly straightforward about lacerating and killing characters, mostly with axes, even though the wickedness is worthy of such cruelty and urges readers to abandon pity. Even a king wants to marry his beautiful daughter in his beloved deceased queen wife’s likeness, who asked him to marry her mirror image. The incestuous labyrinth story is the queen’s stratagem of not letting her husband marry some other woman than her blood and flesh in the daughter’s form. To my dismay, the daughter at the end finds herself in the arms of her father – as a lover. The tale is too spectacular to suspect my cognitive faculty’s malfunction, but the tale’s re-reading confirms the truth of the incredible love story of father and daughter. The Grimm would have decided not to redact it from the collection to invoke such stupendousness of incestuous infatuation blinded by lust and envy nuanced in the simplicity of words. Otherwise, the tale itself remains a point-blank apocalyptic drama that leaves readers in the spinning saucers to the point of no returning of the senses at wonderland.

All the tales from this book are not, however, akin to the tales from the crypt. The Grimm’s tales are the fairy tales where animals talk, and humans listen, fairies and humans can bump into one another on the way home or work, and peasants marry royals with the help of magical instruments, all of which look common and natural. The Grimm’s fairy tales’ characters inhibit somewhere in the gray world of mirrored reality where the wheel of fortune is spined against in our favor because of the blindfolded goddess Fortuna’s whims and caprice in the game of chance. But however unlucky it may seem, time and opportunity happens to all of us at unexpected times and can multiply the delicious fruits with wits and touches of humor, which are the handmaids to a happy life. Grimm’s fairy tales are not pessimistically gloomy enough to attest to the harsh, treacherous reality of life. Instead, the tales are lessons for insatiable greed, insolent hubris, and uncontrollable passion that bring about downfalls, which are also principal narratives of Stephen King of our time.



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