Yet, "there are folktales and folktales" - some are good for folks and others mean. In between those ranges are tales in the thousands, even in German.
A poll among 1,200 US children in 2004 had Cinderella, Briar-Rose (Sleeping Beauty), Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Little Red-Cap (Little Red Riding Hood) as the five top tales they knew there and then. But tastes also change with the times and how old we get, and differ among us too. Thus, some might have wanted other tales among their favourites, or included more Grimm tales among the tales they like best, for example Snow-White and Rose-Red, Snow-White, Rumpelstiltskin, and Beauty and the Beast. Or other tales.
Fairy tales should at any rate be pure and simple enjoyment first, and not much scary. Do exercise care when reading many of these stories to young children.
This selection of some hundred graded Grimm tales for young folks is from their last (7th) edition, and rooted in a faithful translation (London: Bell and Sons, 1884) by the British novelist and translator Margaret Raine Hunt (1831–1912). Some tales have been more or less modified by me; others not. The titles in older German are shown too.
Margaret Hunt's translation is considered a very good one, and close to the German original, but parts of her language are outmoded. Her books contains an introduction by the folklorist Andrew Lang. [WP, sv. "Margaret Raine Hunt"]
Among newer translations, the ones by the prize-winning translator Ralph Manheim (1993) and by Dr Jack Zipes (2007) may be finds if you should like brusque men and gruesome violence from the first Grimm edition. But if not, many other and sanitised versions are available. The Brothers Grimm themselves tried to make their selected tales more child-friendly in their six later editions. The brothers also singled out what became a collection of fifty tales for children in its tenth and final Grimm edition (1901). Most of those tales are included and marked off along with some fifty more of the gentler ones in this collection of some hundred Grimm tales. [See which tales the Grimms meant were fit for children]
In short, he Grimm tales are supplied with "ATU numbers". In this selection the numbers are uncovered through the "Notes" link after each tale. ATU numbers are type numbers that tell more about each tale in their sometimes roundabout ways. ATU numbers are used to classify and compare tales from many different sources.
Belief-theories about postulated origins of fairy tales have given way to getting overviews of the material that is found - through an comparative approach, based on how tales are structured (the chain of actions) and what may be in them contentwise. The Finnish Antti Aarne started to classify types of folktales, and the American Stith Thompson developed the classification catalogue further. A revision by Dr Hans-Jörg Uther appeared in three volumes as The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography Based on the System of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson. (2004).
Basically, in the catalogue, many similar tales (variants) are lumped together as one type of tale. Tales with other similarities (variants and also tales that have many or central plots in common) are classified as another group of tales, and so on, type after type.
The sorted types of tales are each given their classification numbers (ATU numbers), titles, brief descriptions, a searching history, and literature references. That is the basic pattern, although there is much overlapping between different tales, which complicates the grouping. Different tales can share some basic structuring (chain of action, plot), and add different episodes, themes and motifs that also occur in other types of tales. In short: tales blend and overlap.
The use of broad groups (of miscellaneous types) and the wealth of overlaps among different types makes classification work tricky, for that work is rooted in recognising similarities and separating them well into types of tales (by their main plots), and some motifs and themes also, as the case may be.
Many similar tales are told among the peoples. A classification system for types of folktales informs about tales from former times and current times in different countries. Yet, it is long way to go before all tale-types are included om The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography Based on the System of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson. (2004). However, it is great help for comparing folktales from country to country, and for tracing the recognised history of many of the tale types among European tales mainly. The types of tales are arranged by an allotted number (ATU-number) there. The ATU numbering, which takes off from a former AT-numbering, is far from perfect, for there are many tales that remain unclassified yet. An ATU number helps us get one or more handles on a tale. First, it classifies the tale and close relatives as belong to one type of tales. Second, it provided a descriptive title for the type, and as summary of content (briefing, blurb) that some tales in the group share. In this way the ATU description indicates what a tale in a group is about (main plot, a particular chain of action, yet with much room for variations in several cases). There is also a wealth of sources for types of tales.
ATU numbers are used to classify types of tales in the international folktales catalogue (Uther 2004). One by one the types are numbered, given one or more titles, and a fairly common plot for many tales that are grouped together under the same "umbrella" is shown, with many variations too. In such a way, types of tales, are numbered and briefly described. Besides, there is often a recognised, brief history of many tales. At the end of the types description there may be dozens on dozens of folklore works with tales that fit into the catalogue's postulated, generalised types more or less.
There are many translations of the Grimm tales, and their translated titles differ too. The types of tales were given new titles and descriptions in the latest catalogue revision (Uther, 2004). Another way of saying this: the novel ATU numbers of 2004 replace earlier AT numbers for the tale types. What is more, ATU descriptions of tale types (summaries), fairly often differ much from earlier descriptions of them, in two ways:
Yes, the additions to the tale-types lead to descriptions that may not fit any one tale in its type-group so well. And in a group of similar tales (a type) there can be "multiple choices" about, as for example in the type "Doctor Know-All" (ATU 1641) about "a farmer named Crab (Cricket, Rat) who offers to discover who stole a ring (treasure) from a rich man (king)" and so on. In different versions of an unfolding chain of actions (plot) there are different names, different kinds of animals and objects and different people in much the same roles, although the main action is much the same. Broad type descriptions may be needed to tell what is similar or about similar in many different tales in a type-group, but the fact that a type contains many variants and quite similar tales, makes the broad type descriptions suit a particular tale in a group less ideally. That is a weakness to reckon with in many of the type descriptions. For much succinct summaries of the separate Grimm tales, the catalogue may be "second help" only if it tells about a main structure with replaceable parts. For that reason, some works go into descriptions of the Grimm tales solely, and leave out descriptions of the other tales of the same type. That clarifies what the Grimm tales speak of.
It might not be a bad idea to present the current folktale catalogue's type numbers and updated (changed) titles of the Grimm tales, for some of the updated catalogue titles give an inkling of that the tales are about, and they sometimes differ from those of the previous AT entries. Each to his or her tastes, then, and some like to switch back and forth between some of the choices.
Also worth noting is that many more tales from outside Europe have been included in the catalogue.
Two famous Grimm tales are added in this selection. They are "Puss in Boots" from the Grimms' first edition, and the legend "The Children of Hameln" from The German Legends of the Brothers Grimm (Ward 1999).
The Grimm brothers Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm (1786-1859) started to collect legends and folktales in 1806, and from 1807 from oral sources too. The tales they collected and edited, have become the most widely known folktales on earth.
The brothers published Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Tales form Children and the Household) in two volumes; the first in 1812 and the second in 1814 (pre-dated 1815). In the first volume (1812) there were 86 tales. The second volume contained 70 tales more. The two main sources of this volume were a baron and his household, and a poor tailor woman. Nineteen of the seventy tales are by her.
Through six more editions, tales were added and removed, the seventh edition from 1857, which contained 211 tales. The seventh edition of their work is the one that is most often translated into other langages - over an hundred languages so far. The titles of the 211 tales in their 1857 edition are shown here: [211 tales]
The brothers also published Deutsche Sagen in two volumes (1816 and 1818). The work contains 585 German legends.
The Grimm brothers inspired many others folklorists to collect and publish folklore material, and publish various folklore studies.
The Grimm sources were limited
The two brothers believed that folktales stemmed from myths or nature myths. Such an origin could well be a part in some tales, but for anecdotes - hardly so, or for most part no.
Many different theories about the origins of tales have been launched (Bø 1982), and much speculation of this sort has given way to broad classifications since.
The Grimms noticed that folktales were common to many different peoples, and took similarities to mean that many of them were left-overs from myths and legends of gods common to all Indo-European peoples. However, these theories hardly have much to go for them today.
It is also a point that novel studies point out that the material that the Grimm brothers published, is not very representative of the wealth of what existed of tales and legends among German-speaking people. For one thing, humorous tales and jokes, are underrepresented. To get an understand of the width: [Thousands of tales (Erzähltexte)]
The Grimm brothers worked long and hard on tales they got and in time, in the later editions, made them more stylized and solemn and also less gruff, more palatable to the conventional middle-class people back then. For example, in Snow-White and in Hans and Grethel, what was originally a bad mother, became a vicious stepmother.
It shows up that what went into the Kinder- und Hausmärchen for most part was collected among two well-educated households in Kassel, a city in Hesse. They were family and close friends, and for most part young. The two main sources of this volume were a baron and his household, and a poor tailor woman. Nineteen of the seventy tales are by her.
One of the families traced their ancestry to French Huguenots and was inspired by the fairytales of Charles Perrault, who in turn was inspired by Italian tales. French was the mother's tongue of a key Grimm source, Dorothea Viehmann. She owned an inn.
So the Grimm tales come from a quite narrow circle of sources. What is more, they seem little representative of all the legends and other folktales and especially the swarm of joking anecdotes in German folklore. (link above). The Grimm tales are a selection, to be sure.
Grimm Tales Went through Changes
The Grimms' first edition of 1812/14 is "totally unlike the final or so-called definitive edition of 1857," writes Jack Zipes, a Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota and a pioneer of scholarship on fairy tales. (2012). The brothers published seven different editions from 1812 to 1857 and made great changes in the contents and style of their collections. There were earlier German collections of folk and fairy tales, but not as diverse as the work of the two Grimm brothers. They embraced many kinds of tales from German-speaking places. What is more, in their first edition they did not change or hone the stories the way they honed and refined the tales in later editions.The tales in the first edition, on the other hand, are more authentic folk tales, "very blunt if not awkward", "not as aesthetically pleasing as those in later revised versions," says Zipes (2012).
Zipes furnishes titles of tales from the first edition, tales that the Grimms left out in later editions, such as "Puss in Boots" ("Der gestiefelte Kater"), because they did not seem to be of Germanic origin, and the Grimms sought primarily to publish that sort of tales. "Puss in Boots", "Bluebeard," "Princess Mouseskin" ("Prinzessin Mäusehaut") and one more tale were considered too French to be included. However, the oldest written sources of many popular French tales - including Puss in Boots - are Italian tales that were translated into French, and later into German. [More]
The Grimm brothers left out other tales too, for other reasons. For example, "The Stepmother" ("Die Stiefmutter"), because it was both fragmentary and cruel; "The Strange Feast" ("Die wunderliche Gasterei"), because it was like "Godfather Death" and "The Faithful Animals" ("Die truen Tiere") because it came from a collection of Mongolian tales.
As the Grimms continued to collect variants sent to them by friends and colleagues gathered from oral and book sources, they either improved the tales of the first edition by combining versions, omitted tales in favor of new versions, or moved tales to their footnotes.
As the Grimms continued to collect variants, they either improved the tales of the first edition by combining versions, omitted tales in favour of new versions, or moved tales to their footnotes.
Most tales in the first edition are shorter and strikingly different from the same tales edited in the later collections. They smack of orality and raw contents. For example, Rapunzel reveals that she has become pregnant by the prince; Snow White's mother, not her stepmother, wants to kill the beautiful girl out of envy, and so on.
The tales in the first edition are blunt and have little or no description. They are marked by action and of resolving conflict. The storytellers are prone to tell from a faith in magic, superstition, miraculous transformation, and brutality. Metaphor or deep symbols tell how to engage parts of German realities, affirms Zipes.
The tales in the first edition were collected mainly from literate people that the Grimms came to know quite well - the members of the Wild and Hassenpflug families in Kassel and the von Haxthausen family in Münster; Wilhelm knew the minister's daughter Friederike Mannel in a nearby town. And Dorothea Viehmann, a tailor's wife, provided many tales.
In some cases the Grimms took tales from books or received tales in letters. It was discovered that most of the tales were widespread throughout Europe, that tales came to tellers from other tellers, or they read tales, digested them, and made them their own.
The Grimms changed and edited the tales from the first to the seventh edition. But they were at any rate clever or lucky enough to keep traditional stories and storytelling alive, despite criticism. (More in Zipes 2012)
On Margaret Hunt's translation
This rearranged selection takes off from Margaret Hunt's (1831-1912) translation of 1884. Her translation leaves out 29 tales from the first editions. There is a list of left-out Grimm tales at bottom of the page.
The language of her work is more or less outdated today. Her deliberate English archaism "hasn't aged particularly well. Its prose style presents barriers to the tales' easy enjoyment." (Horáková 2013).
I have removed and changed some "clammy" parts of the selected tales and legends. These stories are marked "retold", "abridged", and similar at the end of each in question. If no such thing is added, the translation is that of Margaret Hunt, but may have been subjected to some updating as to words and phrases too. For example, her 'seest' becomes 'see', and 'givest' becomes 'give'.
Then he added, "After my death, thou shalt show him the whole castle: all the chambers, halls, and vaults, and all the treasures which lie therein, but the last chamber in the long gallery, in which is the picture of the princess of the Golden Dwelling, shalt thou not show. If he sees that picture, he will fall violently in love with her, and will drop down in a swoon, and go through great danger for her sake, therefore thou must preserve him from that." ("Faithful John")
The Grimm Tales in time became the best known and most influential book ever written in German. Titles in translation vary, so we find "The Grimms' Children's and Household Tales" and "Grimms Fairy Tales".
In the notes, the ATU numbers of the tales are classification devices that explain what type of folk tales we are dealing with. ATU numbers are explained below. Besides, D. L. Ashliman (1987) has supplied supporting "content capsules" of each tale in a book, and also on a Grimm Brothers page.
Many ideas may be embodied in characters and actions
In good fairy tales lie enjoyments. It may not serve a child or youngster to force rational thinking (intellectual thinking) onto him or her bluntly. This is the outlook of Waldorf education and many a parent who cares. It is fit to nurture the mind on its own premises instead of preßing this and that onto it. Much and good growth (development) can be had from nourishing the mind, for like the body, it develops much by itself, if it gets good food: that is, food for copying drives through sound role models, food for imagination and fancy, and food for the intellect, as it becomes more abstract-minded from puberty and onwards. And that's not the end of it!
As Albert Einstein was into, very good folk tales help in laying a groundwork for coming intellectual attainments as well, due to the very good ideas that are embedded in them, dressed in various images and actions, figures to half-identify with or get entertained by for a spell.
There are many more sides to fairy tales than this. Jerome Bruner (1996) explains how they transmit culture, that is, norms, attitudes, maybe ways of solving problems, and how to look out for scoundrels - such things. James A. Kirk (1972) pointed out how stories offer us life orientations, can socialise us, and so on, several decades before than Bruner. [Bruner on stories]
It is possible to look on folk tale figures and happenings as broadly "masked plays" fit for enactments. One may find hints many times that what is presented as "faces" or "skin" surfaces, are not all there is to many a typified situation described. In this way some folk tales invite us to look deeper - in jolly good time. But first things first: it should be pure and simple enjoyment.
Almost all of the Grimm tales are allotted a type number in the international classificaton system (Uther 2004). It is easily seen how the tales gathered and edited by the brothers Grimm, share motifs and themes with many similar tales found in many other countries. The ATU numbers (and before 2004: AT numbers) given to tales show what types of tales they are according to the International Fairy Tale Catalogue. That incomplete catalogue was first devised by Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson. In 2004, Hans-Jörg Uther revised the catalogue, The initials of Aarne and Thompson make for AT numbers, while the last-name initials of all three constitute the ATU numbers.
In the catalogue, the AT(U) number go along with a summary of the tale too, allowing for variations and variants, as the case may be. Thus, the AT number serves as a sort of heading that makes it easier to compare much similar fairy tales from different parts of Europe in particular. But the catalogue is not well adapted to traditional tales from other parts of the world, and leaves out hundreds and hundreds of yet unclassified types of tales from Europe too. So many European and other folk tales go unclassified and hence unnumbered to this day.
Yet, even though the catalogue is not conclusive, the Grimm tales are extensively covered in it, compared to tales from many other sources. The most comprehensive survey is the updated, three-volumed work by Hans-Jörg Uther (2004)
This was to say that fairy tales are grouped according to types, and types are given numbers and titles and a briefing of the action in a few words on top of that. In such a way the fairy tale catalogue numbers (ATU numbers, and previously AT numbers) show many different folklore types that various tales fit into. In that way the folktales catalogue is helpful in showing kinships of motif(s) between fairy tales from different countries and cultures.
There are links to notes at bottom of each tale. AT numbers of the Grimm tales are given in the notes. The later ATU numbers has been design to correspond to the AT numbers for so old tales. In the notes, the (+ something) for some tales means "episode of this type (episodes of these types) is (are) contained in that type of tale".
The "skeletal" structuring of AT numbers (and ATU numbers) and titles of many other tales is explained more fully here: [Link].
In the revised Types of International Folktales, the "ATU Catalogue" edited by Hans-Jörg Uther in 2004, ATU numbers replace AT numbers. For Grimm tales, the numbers should be just the same: "Because of the need for compatibility with the many old and new regional and international folktale catalogs, the type numbers that have been in use for nearly one hundred years remain unchanged," writes Uther (2004, Vol 1, p 11). It is a truth with modifications, though: An entertaining Norwegian tale about a pig who went to Copenhagen, is now missing, since it was felt to be too "local", and not found in any other country, but for Canada. The tale is well over a hundred years old, has its AT number - 221* - and the title "The hog who was so tired of his daily food". However, that tale is not included in the ATU catalogue. (Cf. Hodne 1984:45) [AT and ATU Numbers]
❋ The ATU system is not finished yet.
Tales not included in the seventh Grimm edition and Hunt's translation of it
[See Wikipedia, "Grimms' Fairy Tales" and "Brothers Grimm", for more.]
Here is the first Grimm edition, in German. - Ralph Manheim (1997) has translated the gory first edition into English. Jack Zipes has published another translation of the Grimm tales (See under Brothers Grimm below). There are harsh tales in both books - harsh and too unfit for tender children. However, the Brothers Grimm formed, polished and refined many of them up to their seventh edition, their last one.
Aarne, Antti. The Types of the Folktale: A classification and Bibliography. Translated and Enlarged by Stith Thompson. 2nd rev. ed. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia / FF Communications, 1961.
Ashliman, D. L. A Guide to Folktales in the English Language. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987. ⍽▢⍽ For a thousand tales, each plot is presented in capsule form, followed by the titles. A full listing of Grimm's 200 tales with type classifications is also included.
⸻. Fairy Lore: A Handbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006. --- This guide focuses on the fairy lore of northwestern Europe. For students and general readers
Brothers Grimm. The Complete Fairy Tales. Tr. Jack Zipes. Extended 3rd ed. London: Vintage Classics, 2007. ⍽▢⍽ The book contains a translation of all the tales in the seventh edition of the Grimm tales from 1857, and in addition thirty-two other tales that the Grimms shaped and refined and published in their earlier editions. There is a lot of information. The language of the tales reads well. Doctor Zipes' large book (over 1000 pages) is critically acclaimed.
Bruner, Jerome S. The Culture of Education. Cambridge, Maß.: Harvard University Preß, 1996.
Bø, Olav, et al, eds. Norske eventyr. Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget, 1982.
Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm. Fünfzig Kinder- und Hausmärchen. Leipzig: Otto Spamer, 1901.
⸻. Grimms' Tales for Young and Old: The Complete Stories. Tr. Ralph Manheim. London: Orion Books, 1993. ⍽▢⍽ A modern, well-received translation of tales in the gory first Grimm edition, which as been described as a terror and a delight and not for children. Patricia Dooley informs that the folklore expert Jack Zipes finds Ralph Manheim's translation to be excellent.
⸻. Household Tales by Brothers Grimm. Tr. Margaret Hunt. London: Bell, 1884. ⍽▢⍽ A good translation for its time, but the language is antiquated.
Horáková, Erin. "Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman." Strange Horizons. 21 January 2013. Online.
Hodne, Ørnulf. The Types of the Norwegian Folktale. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget, 1984. ⍽▢⍽ This decent, academic work contains a national corpus of tales, each with AT numbers, titles and content capsules tailored to each type, followed by variants arranged by counties. Many types of tales go unclassified still.
Kirk, James A. Stories of the Hindus: An Introduction Through Texts and Interpretation. New York: Macmillan, 1972. ⍽▢⍽ As the American psychologist Jerome Bruner (1915-2016) points out, good stories can help enculturation, that is, they pass on common or regular outlooks in a culture, and serve to preserve many of them. And that may well be a foremost function of fit folktales and legends.
Lindø, Rigmor. Eventyrskolen (The Fairy Tale School). Oslo: Cappelen, 1988.
Manheim, Ralph, tr. Grimms' Tales for Young and Old: The Complete Stories Translated by Ralph Manheim. Paperback ed. London: Victor Gollancz, 1993.
Tatar, Maria. The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.
Uther, Hans-Jörg. Handbuch zu den "Kinder- und Hausmärchen" der Brüder Grimm: Enstehung, Wirkung, Interpretation (Handbook of the Grimm Brothers' "Children's and Household Tales": Origin, Impact, Interpretation). Berlin: Walter de Gruiter, 2008. ⍽▢⍽ A work of reference dealing with the fairytales and other stories in the Grimms' extremely influential collection, Kinder- und Hausmärchen. A great companion to the Grimms' tales. Encyclopedia-style entries for the two hundred tales and ten religious legends (Kinderlegenden) in the seventh edition. Entries follow for nearly fifty narratives that were included in previous editions, but for one reason or another were left out since.
⸻. 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.
Zipes, Jack. Breaking the Magic Spell. Reprint. New York: Routledge, 1992.
⸻. "The Forgotten Tales of the Brothers Grimm." The Public Domain Review. (Magazine), 2012. Online.
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