'Once upon a time in mid-winter, when the snowflakes were falling from the sky like down, a queen was sitting and sewing at a window ...' The tales gathered by the Grimm brothers are at once familiar, fantastic, homely, and frightening. They seem to belong to no time, or to some distant feudal age of fairytale imagining. Grand palaces, humble cottages, and the forest full of menace are their settings; and they are peopled by kings and princesses, witches and robbers, millers and golden birds, stepmothers and talking frogs. Regarded from their inception both as uncosy nursery stories and as raw material for the folklorist the tales were in fact compositions, collected from literate tellers and shaped into a distinctive kind of literature. This new translation mirrors the apparent artlessness of the Grimms, and fully represents the range of less well-known fables, morality tales, and comic stories as well as the classic tales. It takes the stories back to their roots in German Romanticism and includes variant stories and tales that were deemed unsuitable for children.
In her fascinating Introduction, Joyce Crick explores their origins, and their literary evolution at the hands of the Grimms.
Joyce Crick was, until her retirement, Senior Lecturer in German at University College London. She has translated Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams (Oxford) and The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious.