Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Once Upon a Time...

...there was a little girl who loved reading fairy tales. She had a two-volume set of Grimm's, one book blue and one red. As time went by, she lost track of those books. Fast-forward a few (okay, many) years, and that grown-up girl happened to come across one of the same books in a second-hand store. She bought it, because eight bucks is not bad for a big dose of nostalgia. In reading through it, she remembered a) how much she loved fairy tales, and b) she had bought a complete Grimm's Fairy Tales from Barnes and Noble a while back for next to nothing, and that big book was just hanging out in her stack, waiting to be rediscovered. So the next week's Take It or Leave It was born...

I read (at least) one fairy tale every day for a week, and I think I've identified what it is about them that captivates me: the stories collected by the Brothers Grimm are flippin' nuts. I mean, just absolutely wacko. Yes, they are full of deep symbolism and archetypes--witches, roses, mirrors, tricksters, and so on--but they're also like the craziest fever dreams a person could have. Talking animals? Of course--and also trees, streams, rocks, and bones. Glass mountains that open up and swallow whoever or whatever happens to be near? Yes, sir. A guy the size of a thumb? Sure, why not. Children made entirely out of gold? Got 'em. Well, how about a child who is a hedgehog on top and a human boy on the bottom? Him, too.

And don't forget all the scheming, double-crossing, lying, homicide, wisdom and stupidity, patience and haste, laziness and industriousness, dying and resurrection, sinning and redemption. So many themes. So many lessons and cautionary tales. So much potential for creative inspiration.

I'm glad I spent the week getting reacquainted with Grimm's tales and will continue to read through them, including the great Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm. For now, I'll leave you with the first two lines from a story called Fitcher's Bird, which stopped me short:

There was once a wizard who used to take the form of a poor man, and went to houses and begged, and caught pretty girls. No one knew whither he carried them, for they were never seen more.

Sweet dreams!

Image result for grimm's fairy tales


  1. I’m fond of fairytales too. So are plenty of people, if you think about it - they are so often retold and turned into novels, films, musicals... They make great raw materials for other stories.

  2. So true. There are so many ways to give the old stories new life...even steampunk, which sounds pretty interesting!

  3. The proper Grimm tales are also quite dark! Nothing like the Disney versions we see on the screen.

  4. They are dark! I've been surprised at how many lopped-off heads and body parts I've come across! And tongues and eyes cut out... Whew!