As a child I grew up listening to my grandmother’s renditions of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tales, including those on the “A” list–Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Rupunzel. But these weren’t the Disney versions. Oh no, in Grandma’s Cinderella, the ugly step sisters cut off their toes to fit them into the glass slipper and in Snow White, the evil stepmother had to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she fell down dead. What wasn’t to love about the stories? They didn’t shy away from violence, that’s for sure. They also made magic seem possible (especially in hidden secret places, deep in the woods), and good triumphed over evil.
In her thick German accent, Grandma also told me some lesser known tales like The Golden Goose and The Wolf and the Seven Goats (two of my absolute favorites), probably because they were more humorous than the better known tales. (And I like a good laugh!)
Grimms’ Fairy Tales has been translated into more than 160 languages. Their influence permeates so many aspects of culture world-wide from pop culture to the fine arts. I want to learn more about the history of the Grimm brothers, how their stories have been “translated” and “adapted” over time and in different contexts, and to try to understand how and why these stories still resonate with different audiences. Of course I’m also curious to young people’s responses to these stories. In my dream- world, I see myself using my German and researching in the archives of the Museum of the Brothers Grimm in Kassel. And . . . I want to create my own translations and adaptations of the stories into puppet theater.
I have a National Geographic from 1999. I have saved it over countless moves, two babies, and a house remodel project. In it there is an article “Guardians of the Fairy Tale: The Brothers Grimm.” The article’s author, Thomas O’Neil, and photographer, Gerd Ludwig, trace the geography of the Grimm’s tales in the German state Hesse and to “roam the back roads to see if landscapes evoked by the fairy tales still lingered in the Hessian countryside.” After some digging around this evening, I found the magazine. It’s chalked full of interesting facts about the Brothers Grimm and photographs that capture the magic of the Hesse’s landscape and people. It a great source of inspiration as I start my journey. Jetzt geht’s los!