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November 22 , 2007

Quicklet On Grimm's Fairy Tales



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Like most people my age, I grew up with Grimm’s Fairytales, and much like most of us, I didn’t even know it. It was through watching Disney movies as a child that I was first exposed to many of the Grimms’ stories. Stories like ‘Little Red Cap’ and ‘Briar Rose’ don’t immediately ring a bell, until you look closer and realize that they are the foundation for Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty, respectively. Even the classic story of Cinderella originates here.

There was one aspect of the book, however that I found particularly interesting, something that most definitely isn’t present in the movies. Grimms’ fairytales are by and large a rather dark bunch of tales.

While the Disney versions of these stories are often portrayed as very clear cut messages of good vs. evil, the tales themselves are often not so simple. Violence, particularly violence against children seems to be a running theme in the book; and more often than not someone dies horrifically at the end, occasionally it’s even the hero of the story!

To me it seems that the original intent of the Grimms’ collection of tales was to provide more cautionary tales, than entertaining ones. I would certainly think twice before reading this collection to very young children, particularly before bedtime.

Then again, perhaps it is only a sign of the times in which the book was written, young people were far less sheltered from the realities of death and violence in the early 1800’s (and even earlier, for some of the older stories) than they are today, and as such might indeed have found these stories to be equally as entertaining and influential as children in modern times have found Disney’s versions to be.


Lynn Brown wrote her first book at the age of 6, to the wild acclaim of her kindergarten class. Sometime later she graduated from Naropa University with an Interdisciplinary degree in Writing, Peace and Indigenous Peoples Studies. She is a staff writer for, and has been published in Colorado Daily News, the Bywater-Currents Magazine and In addition, she sometimes serves as a grantwriter for various nonprofit organizations. Lynn is currently working on an urban fantasy novel, entitled Wonderland, based on the city of New Orleans and its mythology. Her novel writing process and clips from this work can be found at:


The book is actually a collection of over 200 stories. It was originally separated into several volumes that were published over a span of time between 1812 and 1818. The book also underwent several edits and rewrites, most of which seem to have been in reaction to unfavorable reviews by the public.

Despite the fact that the brothers Grimm had originally compiled the stories as a means of preserving German oral history, many people at the time felt it just wasn’t German enough. There was also the issue of it being considered a bit too dark for children, even in the 1800’s.

Still, the legacy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales has endured. In addition to modern retellings of the stories in the collection, the author’s themselves have worked their way into our imaginations as well. Several movies and TV shows have recently been made about them (some more historically accurate than others), including the recent TV series entitled Grimm and the movie The Brothers Grimm.

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