[Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm]. Grimms’ Goblins and Wonder Tales. Translated from the German by Mrs. H. B. Paull and L. A. Wheatley. London and New York: Frederick Warne, n.d.

This selection of the Grimms’ fairy tales contains several tales which, because of their depictions of child abuse and violence, are usually omitted from modern collections.  For example, a father cuts off his daughter’s hands in “The Maiden without Hands,” and in “The Juniper Tree” a stepmother beheads her stepson and then makes it look as if her daughter has killed him.  The preface to Grimms’ Goblins and Wonder Tales perpetuates the myth that Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm “travelled through Hesse and other parts of Germany for thirteen years, persuading the poor people to tell them all the stories that they had heard from their grandparents, and then writing them down.”  In fact they collected most of their tales by inviting storytellers into their home and writing the tales down after one or more hearings.  Most of these storytellers, moreover, were middle-class or aristocratic women.  The Grimms also included tales in their collection that had already appeared in print.

This page shows the popular German tale “Hans mein Igel” (Hans My Hedgehog, here “Hans the Hedgehog”).  The tale depicts the half-human, half-hedgehog Hans, who rides on a rooster and plays the bagpipes in the forest after being shunned by his parents.  He later marries a princess and is transformed into a handsome young man.

Tales from Grimm. Translated by Wanda Gág.  New York: Coward-McCann, 1936

The American illustrator Wanda Gág  (1893-1946) is perhaps best known for the Newberry Honor winner Millions of Cats (1928).  Although her translations of selected tales by the Grimms are not literal, they preserve important details from the tales.  For example, her version of the Grimms’ “Hansel and Gretel” captures the importance of birds throughout the tale, as indicated here in the illustration “A Little Bird Sat There in a Tree.”

Text by Associate Professor Ann Schmiesing

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