Tag Archives: Fairy Tales

Grimm Fairy Tales

8 Sep

Fairy tales—at least as we know them—are a childhood staple. We know the classics by heart, but our beloved Disney-diluted iterations couldn’t be further from their true, markedly more sinister origins. While Walt Disney brought us some of our most beloved children’s stories, the original Brothers Grimm fairy tales are definitely not for kids. The Grimm brothers, a pair of German siblings who created some of the original tales in the 19th century, didn’t shy away from any gory details and left an astounding legacy. Born in the city of Kassel in the 18th century, Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm documented hundreds of folktales from all over Europe. They were linguists, scholars, and researchers of German language and mythology, yet they lived most of their lives as underpaid academics – and likely never realized their work would someday reach world fame. Despite the fact that Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are often associated with Snow White and Rapunzel, the brothers didn’t actually write any of those stories. In fact, the stories existed long before the two men were born in Germany in the mid 1780s. The fairy tales, in fact, were part of a rich oral tradition − passed down from generation to generation, often by women seeking to pass the time during household chores. But as industrialization took root, local traditions changed and scholars, like Jacob and Wilhelm, began a quest to save the stories from extinction. They interviewed relatives and friends, collecting whatever tales they could, sometimes embellishing them (although they insisted they did not). In 1812, Jacob and Wilhelm published the stories as part of a collection titled Nursery and Household Tales, or what is now referred to as Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

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Children’s Fantasy

25 May

While today you can go into any good bookshop (or perhaps more likely go online) to find plenty of children’s books of all kinds to choose from, this was not always the case. In fact, there was a time in the not too distant past when it was not easy at all for younger readers to find fiction written specifically for them – until about 150 years ago, children’s books were thought of only as lesson books, full of instructions about good behaviour. Only relatively recently have authors written books to be interesting, amusing and exciting for younger readers, instead of merely to teach them something. The development of the sub-genre of children’s fantasy is an even more recent phenomenon. From its misty beginnings in the fairy tales and fables of the nineteenth century to its first real expression in the form of classics like The Borrowers and The Chronicles of Narnia, children’s fantasy has progressed in leaps and bounds to become, today, an extremely lucrative literary form in its own right. It was perhaps the runaway success of series such as His Dark Materials and Harry Potter which first highlighted just how popular and successful fantasy for children (as opposed to its more grown-up counterpart as exemplified by Tolkien and others) could be. This was no mere flash in the pan, however, and books like the Twilight and Hunger Games series have continued to dominate the bestseller lists, as well as the box office, well into the 21st century.

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