Saturday, March 2, 2013
Whim and Grimm
I recently read Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version, a collection of 50 fairy tales, which includes some well known tales as well as many lesser known tales. These fairy tales were first published just over 200 years ago by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm. I have not read the originals, so I am not sure how Pullman's re-tellings compare. I did not find his notes at the end of each fairy tale to be very interesting, though I enjoyed the fairy tales. Filled with poor millers, golden apples, wicked stepmothers, and dense forests, the stories are very archetypal and form the basis of other themes in literature. There are some common structural elements and themes - things happen in threes, good conquers evil, and magic often happens. While I enjoyed the swiftness and wit of the tales, the characters are often nameless and there is little emphasis on their interior life, nor emphasis on the description of the setting. Plus, after reading fifty tales, the themes do start to get repetitive. Nonetheless, they are inventive, entertaining, and an important contribution to the canon of literature.