Things that Grimm’s has taught me:
– If you do not have a suitable insult for someone, “simpleton” will work in any situation. And “dandyprat” – it’s amazing.
– If your kid is a bit thick, nicknaming them “dummling” will really help their self-esteem.
– No story is complete without a king showing up at some point.
– Bitches be crazy.
Grimm’s was great, and you can really enjoy it if you take it with a pinch of salt. I’ll admit it took me about half the book to stop going WTF at every other sentence, but once I did it became a lot more enjoyable. After fifteen stories or so, it no longer shocks you that someone can be brought back to life by a woman’s tears, or simply “God’s grace” on some occasions.
This book made me think a lot about the art of fairy tales. There are many different ones from all over the world and I myself consumed stories from lots of different cultures as a child. When I first started reading Grimm’s I was constantly asking myself why on earth kids are allowed to read these crazy things, even the massively censored fairy tales we get today. Aesop, not the brothers Grimm, was the one who wrote every story with a moral. Grimm’s are, as the name would suggest, grim! They are full of murder, misogyny and just general what-the-fuck-ery. It is a hard task to decipher any sort of lesson to be learned from these tales, and a lot of the time the stories are so crazy it is difficult to enjoy them.
I then had to ask myself why I liked fairy tales when I was a kid. I honestly still don’t know the answer to that one.
As I said, I consumed many fairy tales as a kid. Some were massively censored and completely different to the originals (Disney) and some were pretty much exactly the same as the originals. I don’t think my parents realized what they had given me to read, because knowing them I don’t think they would have let me read stories with that amount of murder. Do you know what my favourite fairy tales were? The depraved ones.
Two of my favourite story books were Old Peter’s Russian Tales and The Kingdom Under the Sea. To give you an idea of the kind of thing I’m talking about, one of the stories from Old Peter’s Russian Tales was called The Silver Saucer and The Transparent Apple. In a nutshell, a young girl called Little Stupid (yes) used a silver saucer and a transparent apple to see the world. Her sisters are jealous, so they of course murder her in order to obtain these treasures. She is then brought back to life with water from the well of the Tsar and she forgives her sisters. Because, you know, if your sisters axe murder you, that’s what you do. Sibling rivalry is a bitch.
I loved that story. I loved all of them, no matter how insane or depraved. The only time I ever got upset with a fairy tale is when I discovered the original and found that it was completely different to my childhood favourite. Like when I read the original Little Mermaid, Hunchback of Notre Dame and Sleeping Beauty (the one before Grimm’s). But I didn’t mind if the original story I read had been disturbing…
I guess I’m still trying to make sense of it all, but the way I see it is that kids don’t mind if a story makes absolutely no sense. They don’t care if a bunch of crows in a story can see the future and the main character can understand them and no explanation is ever offered. I think back to all of the Spike Milligan and Rudyard Kipling I enjoyed when I was a kid and I’m like yeah, kid’s don’t give a crap if the story makes no sense. And as for the murder-y type stuff, I’m still not quite sure. I was never bothered by the murders in my fairy stories as a kid. I never got upset, and certainly don’t go around on regular killing sprees as a result. It’s the whole video game violence debate all over again. Am I slightly desensitized to death? Maybe. But understanding and accepting that death is a part of life is not a bad thing. If that started with fairy tales, I don’t think it’s a reason for fairy tales to be censored.
In conclusion, I would recommend Grimm’s if you are keen to see the origins of fairy tales. However do keep the following in mind:
– These stories will make no sense to an adult mind; they read like the Grimm brothers were permanently high.
– If you don’t already know about the original folk tales of your favourite Disney films, be prepared for Grimm’s to rape your childhood. The go check out Hans Christen Anderson, he’ll finish the job.
– Just try to take it all with a pinch of salt.
I leave you with my reactions as I read the stories…
The Goose Girl
The Brother and Sister
– Oh hey, middle aged king barging into my cottage. You want me to be your queen? Yeah sure, can I bring my brother? Sweet.
Hansel and Grethel
– Their father is definitely a simpleton.
– “Who’s eating my gingerbread roof?” “the wind” “oh right, carry on”
– Grethel, why are you helping the witch cook your brother? She’s already locked him up and said she’s going to eat him, you just said you would rather die with your brother than have him die alone…just say no! What is the worst the witch can do at this point?
– Oh now apparently you can ride a duck across a river. La di fucking da.
Oh, if I could but shiver
– What on earth is a parish sexton and why does he just wander into people’s houses for a chinwag?
– He’s even acting like a sexual predator now.
– “your balls are not quite round” — said the actress to the bishop
– Shivering. Was it worth it?
Dummling and the Three Feathers
– All hail king Dummling, lord of the frog folk!
– Oh so it’s her cheeks that are red as blood? Sounds off-putting…
– Y U so picky about beds, Snow? So what if one is too long?
– “Who has been meddling with my spoon??” BAHAHHAHAHA
Fred and Catherine
– I don’t know who’s more annoying: the misogynist husband or the idiot wife.
– Definitely the wife.
– Who the hell drinks vinegar?
– What was the point of that story?
The Valiant Little Tailor
– He ain’t valiant. He’s a prick with a death wish.
Little Red Cap
– “How loudly that lady snores! I must be a good Samaritan and wander into her house while she sleeps to make sure she’s ok.”
– So they don’t even get rescued?
The Golden Goose
– Ok, I’m taking a leaf out of this guy’s book. If I ever get mugged, I’m going to hold my head up high and say “Give you all my money? No thank you, as there would be none left for me!”
– Must be awful to be a princess. You laugh at one guy’s joke and you’re forced to marry him.
– Liked this one!
– You had one job, John. One.
– I wish I had the guts to never explain anything. I can imagine a Grimm brother asking the other if they should offer some sort of explanation and the other saying “nah bruh, they’ll get it”. Only in German.
The Water of Life
– “he screamed and his mother and father were aroused by it”
– A fish that grants potency! “you get a kid! You get a kid. You call get kids!”
The Six Swans
– I remember this one! But…with nettles…
– “they settled on the ground and began blowing one another”
– Evil stepmothers. Every family has one.
– Craving a salad so bad you may die. Can’t say I can relate.
– “Cinderella of the House”. You mean slave, Grimm.
The Frog Prince
– So kissing him doesn’t work, but throwing him against a wall does!
The Travels of Tom Thumb
– He’s IN the cow! Get it now, simpleton?
– I miss those days when it’s all like “I’m going to make my fortune!”. Now it’s all “I’m off to uni to get plastered every night”.
– If you are writing in the past tense, are you allowed to say “presently”?
Snow White and Rose Red
– Now you’re just recycling names
The Three Little Men in The Wood
– Yep, bitches be crazy.
– # They call me Caspar, they call me Melchior, thats not my name, that’s not my name #
Little one-eye, two-eyes and three-eyes
– “What shall we call our daughter?” “Well she had 2 eyes like the rest of humanity. Let’s call her two-eyes and beat the shit out of her for being normal”