1.18.2012

Clever Maids & Grimm Brothers






















I just finished reading Clever Maids, The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales," by Valerie Paradiz.  It is the story of the iconic brothers who lived during the 18th C, a chaotic time filled with uprisings and revolutions.  Germany was occupied by Napoleon, and war was constant. It was also a terrible time for women who had absolutely no rights and could own nothing.  So when Father Grimm dies, according to the law, Mother Grimm loses everything.  The Grimm family tumbles into poverty and Jacob is packed off to law school to make something of himself and save the family.  Instead he discovers literature and resolves to uncover the folk/fairy tale legacy of his war-ravaged homeland.


Everywhere they go, Jacob and Wilhelm search for tales, and they gather most of them from women they meet along the way, although none of these women are credited in the final collection.  They also befriend other soon-to-be famous authors, like Goethe, who is also interested in folk tales and eventually writes "Faust" incorporating the same theme as most of the fairy tales:  women should be submissive, passive, pure or else very bad things will happen if they stray from the righteous path.


Before  reading this I had only the Terry Gilliam film about the Brothers Grimm to go on, which is a lot of fun, but has nothing to do with reality since Jacob & Wilhelm did not make the stories up, they only copied them down.


Grimm's Fairy Tales, illustrated by Arthur Rackham
Grimm Fairy Tales 

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