I still have the copy of The Brothers Grimm's fairytales that my mum got me when I was eight. I have always loved fairytales, myths and legends and something about the darker element of the Grimm tales has always resonated with me. In the Grimm stories the ugly sisters cut off their toes and heels to try to fit into the shoe in Cinderella and I find these versions to be an interesting counterpoint to the Disney versions that so many children are familiar with. It would be wrong however not to treat them with caution as they are not from our modern world of political correctness and they are not revisionist like later authors such as Angela Carter; they are however well worth investigating and as wrongdoers get punished, in often horrific ways, and the good prosper they are still an excellent distraction.
Their Household Tales are here
- and these are some of my favourites:
They were all shocked but the twelfth, whose good wish still remained unspoken, came forward, and as she could not undo the evil sentence, but only soften it, she said, "It shall not be death, but a deep sleep of a hundred years, into which the princess shall fall."
- Little Briar-Rose
When, therefore, the King’s daughter saw that there was no longer any hope of turning her father’s heart, she resolved to run away from him. In the night whilst every one was asleep, she got up, and took three different things from her treasures, a golden ring, a golden spinning-wheel, and a golden reel. The three dresses of the sun, moon, and stars she put into a nutshell, put on her mantle of all kinds of fur, and blackened her face and hands with soot. Then she commended herself to God, and went away, and walked the whole night until she reached a great forest. And as she was tired, she got into a hollow tree, and fell asleep.
Once when they had spent the night in the wood and the dawn had roused them, they saw a beautiful child in a shining white dress sitting near their bed. He got up and looked quite kindly at them, but said nothing and went away into the forest. And when they looked round they found that they had been sleeping quite close to a precipice, and would certainly have fallen into it in the darkness if they had gone only a few paces further. And their mother told them that it must have been the angel who watches over good children.
- Snow-White and Rose-Red
Alas, young Queen, how ill you fare!
If this your tender mother knew,
Her heart would surely break in two.
- The Goose-Girl