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ATU numbers are used to classify types of folktales in the international folktales catalogue. The many types of tales are described there too, along with other information. (See Uther 2004 below).

Below, all the best known Grimm tales are given type numbers, that is, one or more ATU-numbers, for studying them better. Where the ATU type-title is as in the title of a translated, common Grimm tale, the title is left out after the ATU number. Besides, apart from all the tales in the final Grimm edition, data for two more tales is supplied on one of these pages: "Puss in Boots" from the Grimms' first edition, and the legend "The Children of Hameln" (See Grimm, 1981).

The Fisherman and His Wife

ATU 555 - A poor fisher catches a flounder and puts him back in the sea. In gratitude the fish grants all the wishes of the fisher's wife up to a point. Then the couple is back where they started. And why? The wife becomes excessively demanding (wish to become a noblewoman, king, and finally God). So a fisherwife's presumptuousness, hubris, comes into the open and finally flounders - and she may be no better for it. Not keeping fit measure, or within reasonable bounds may finally backfire.

The fisher did not have enough wisdom and strength to withstand a nagging wife's demands for greater and greater dwellings and status.

A well crafted tale may serve as a common point of reference in a culture, a matrix (womb) for deliberation and understanding, and many sorts of proverbs can be linked to it as well.

A talking fish is something - and so is being staunch enough to withstand the unfit rise and keep things as cosy as can be, and otherwise stick firmly to what benefits health and the good life.

Freud's approach in a nutshell: Observe, ponder, speculate and assert to possible assist. The working hypotheses function well in science.

[The Tale]

The Bremen Town-Musicians

ATU 130, The Animals in Night Quarters. (Bremen Town Musicians.) Domestic animals join company with each other, wish to live together, hoping to become town musicians too. They come to a house in the woods, and frighten villains away from the place by singing. The four musicians stay in the house from then on.

[The Tale]

Each to his ability.

Cooperation equals tact at times.

The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids

ATU 123, The Wolf and the Kids. When the mother goat was away, the wolf came to her house and swallowed her kids whole. Then he fell so fast asleep that he did not wake up when she found him, cut up his belly and rescued the kids. The mother then replaced them with stones and sewed him shut. When he awoke he went to a well to drink. The stones made him fall in, and he drowned.

Thus, things do not always go according to plan, and some ill-meaning bad ones take to tricks. Also, the strange unrealism of the happy rescue is marked. Compare the comments on Red-Cap next.

[The Tale]

Little Red-Cap

ATU 333, Little Red Riding Hood (previously The Glutton). (Petit Chaperon Rouge, Cappuccetto rosso, Rotkäppchen.) (Including the previous type 333A.) The tale warns little children against confiding in strangers and dealing with them, in case some strangers are not as good and friendly as they pretend to be, and mean to harm or kill a victim.

The wolf in this tale could have been a werewolf originally. In seven French versions the bad one that the little girl meets is a werewolf, and some versions, notably Perrault's, end with the girl's death. Also, in a historical light, in the many werewolf trials in the 1500s and 1600s the accused werewolves were charged with having killed children and eaten them.

Some versions tone down the gruesome side to it and let a hero come to the rescue. The rescue and what happens afterward, is odd enough. In some variants, Red Riding Hood arrives at her grandmother's house before the wolf. The wolf climbs on the roof to wait until Red Riding Hood leaves. The Grandmother who had boiled sausages asks Red Riding Hood to fill the broth into a big trough in front of the house. Enticed by the smell, the wolf falls from the roof and is drowned in the trough. Note: Wolves do not swallow human victims whole and alive either. [Nov 61]

Wolves are dangerous. A historical glimpse: In France, nearly 7,600 people were killed by attacking wolves between 1200 and 1920. (Wikipedia, "Wolf attacks on humans")

[The Tale]

The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean

ATU 295, The Bean (Mouse), the Straw, and the Coal. (Including the previous type 2034A.)

[The Tale]

Snow-White and Rose-Red

ATU 426, The Two Girls, the Bear, and the Dwarf.

[The Tale]

Little Snow-White

ATU 709

[The Tale]

Frau Trude

ATU 334, Household of the Witch. (Including the previous type 333B.) Example of a plot summary: "A girl (woman) disregards the warning of friendly animals (parts of her body) and visits her godmother (grandmother) who is a cannibal. The girl sees many gruesome things (e.g. fence of bones, barrel full of blood, and her godmother with an animal's head). When the girl tells her godmother what she has seen she is killed (devoured)." (Uther 2004, 1:2004:225)

Much in step with the tale of Little Red-Cap (above), Frau Trude is a warning tale about being misled by clever and good looks. "Don't be outsmarted by those who pretend to be your friends, but are insincere and even violent." An English proverb in a similar vein: "All are not friends that speak us fair."

Further, Frau Trude serves as an example of tales that have not been included in the present selection of Grimm tales.


The Tailor in Heaven

ATU 800. He was not fit for it.

[The Tale]

The Wise Servant

1681B, Fool as Custodian of Home and Animals. Miscellaneous type. This type is usually combined with one or more other types. (Uther 2004, 2:359)

[The Tale]

The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs

Three Hairs from the Devil's Beard. More than half of the variants begin with Type 930 as an introductory episode.

[The Tale]

The Golden Bird

ATU 550, Bird, Horse and Princess (previously Search for the Golden Bird).

[The Tale]

The Little Peasant

ATU 1535, 1535, The Rich and the Poor Farmer. (Unibos.). This type is usually combined with one or more other types.

[The Tale]

The Golden Goose

ATU 571, "All Stick Together." A melancholy princess is promised in marriage to whoever can make her laugh. A strange-looking parade passes by the castle. She sees it and laughs for the first time in her life.

[The Tale]

The Fox and His Cousin

ATU 152A*, The Wife Scalds the Wolf. Sometimes combined with Type 121.

[The Tale]

The Old Man and His Grandson

ATU 980, The Ungrateful Son (previously Ungrateful Son Reproved by Naive Actions of Own Son). (Including the previous types 980A-C.) A miscellaneous tale.

[The Tale]

The Fox and the Geese

ATU 227, Geese Ask for Respite for Prayer. A fox wants to eat geese but they ask him to grant them a last wish: a prayer. They crackle without a stop.

[The Tale]

Old Hildebrand

ATU 1360C. An unfaithful wife pretends to be ill and sends her husband a long way for medicine, to the end that the parish priest can be with her all day long. Another man explains to the husband that she pretends to be ill to get her husband out of the way, and carries him home in a basket to witness what is going on. Finally he whips the priest out of his house.

[The Tale]

Doctor Know-All

ATU 1641. This is the basic part of the tale: A farmer named Crab (Cricket, Rat) dresses as a doctor and calls himself Doctor Know-All. By accident he makes three servants who stole a ring from king or rich man, confess to him, so he is able to bring the ring back to the king. He has to prove his power still more, by telling what is hidden under the lid of a dish (or in a closed fist). He has no idea and bemoans, "Poor Crab (Cricket, Rat)!" This happens to be the right answer.

[The Tale]

The Devil's Sooty Brother

ATU 475, The Man as Heater of Hell's Kettle. The tale starts with a poor soldier who is not allowed to wash or comb himself for a long time -

[The Tale]

The Two Travellers

ATU 613, The Two Travellers. (Truth and Falsehood.) (Including the previous types 613*, 613A*, and 613B*.)

[The Tale]

The Seven Swabians

1321, Fools Frightened. Miscellaneous type with diverse variants.

[The Tale]

The Three Army Surgeons

ATU 660, The Three Doctors

[The Tale]

Ferdinand the Faithful and Ferdinand the Unfaithful

ATU 531, The Clever Horse (previously Ferdinand the True and Ferdinand the False). (Including the previous type 513C.) A miscellanous type. There is an unfaithful companion in one of the variants of it.

[The Tale]

The Four Skilful Brothers

ATU 653, The Four Skillful Brothers. (Including the previous type 513C*.)

[The Tale]

The Fox and the Horse

ATU 47A, The Fox Hangs Onto the Horse's Tail (previously The Fox [Bear, etc.] Hangs by His Teeth to the Horse's Tail, Hare's Lip). (Including the previous type 47C.)

[The Tale]

The Girl from Brakel

ATU 1476A Prayer to Christ Child's Mother. (Including the previous Type 1479**.) An old maid prays to a statue of the Virgin Mary, asking her for a husband. Someone hidden behind the statue answers that this cannot be. The old maid thinks it is the sculptured baby Jesus who says so, and tells him to keep quiet; she had been speaking to his mother who might be more sympathetic to her request.

[The Tale]

The Old Man Made Young Again

ATU 753, Christ and the Smith Christ (St. Peter, St. Eligius, a saint) visits a haughty smith. In the smithy he takes off a horse's foot in order to shoe it, and replaces the foot. He goes on to rejuvenate an old woman by putting her in the fire. The smith tries to do the same with his old mother-in-law, but -

[The Tale]

The Shepherd Boy

ATU 922,The Shepherd Substituting for the Clergyman Answers the King's Questions. (The King and the Abbot). A high and mighty person demands a clergyman to come and answer three difficult questions, or be executed. The clergyman sends a stand-in who manages the tricky parts. - A further note. This type may be of Jewish origin.

[The Tale]

The Star-Money (The Star-Talers)

ATU 779, Miscellaneous Divine Rewards and Punishments. (Including the previous types 779A*-C*.)

[The Tale]


Brothers Grimm household tales classified, ATU numbers for Grimm tales, Literature  

Brothers Grimm. The Complete Fairy Tales. Tr. Jack Zipes. Extended 3rd ed. London: Vintage Classics, 2007. ⍽▢⍽ The book contains a translation of the tales in the seventh edition of the Grimm tales from 1857, plus thirty-two more tales that the Grimms shaped and refined and published in earlier editions of the work. Dr Zipes' large book (over 1000 pages) is critically acclaimed, and contains much of relevant information. Besides, the language of the tales reads well. Better be warned: there are violence-ridden tales among many others.

Grimm, Jacob Ludwig Karl. The German Legends of the Brothers Grimm. Vol. 1 and Vol 2. Ed. and tr. Donald Ward. Philadelphia: The Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1981.

Hunt, Margaret Raine, tr and ed. Grimm's Household Tales with the Authors' Notes. 2 vols. London: George Bell and Sons, 1884.

Uther, Hans-Jörg. The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography Based on the System of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson. Vols 1-3. FF Communications No. 284-86, Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2004.

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