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A Year: Day to Day Men: 20th of December, Solar Year 2017

No Stretch of tlhe Imagination

On December 20, 1812, “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm is published.

Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano, both poets and novelists, were good friends of the Grimm brothers and wanted to publish folk tales. So they asked the brothers to collect oral tales for publication. The Grimm’s collected many old books and asked friends and acquaintances in Kassel to tell tales and to gather stories from others. Jacob and Wilhelm sought to collect these stories in order to write a history of old German Poesie and to preserve history.

The first volume of the first edition was published in 1812, containing 86 stories; the second volume of 70 stories followed in 1815. For the second edition, two volumes were issued in 1819 and a third in 1822, totalling 170 tales. The third edition appeared in 1837; fourth edition, 1840; fifth edition, 1843; sixth edition, 1850; seventh edition, 1857. Stories were added, and also subtracted, from one edition to the next, until the seventh held 211 tales. All editions were extensively illustrated, first by Philipp Grot Johann and, after his death in 1892, by German illustrator Robert Leinweber.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s collection of folktales contains some of the best-known children’s characters in literary history, from Snow White and Rapunzel to Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. Yet the brothers originally filled their book, which became known as “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” with gruesome scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in an R-rated movie. The Grimms never even set out to entertain kids. The first edition of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” was scholarly in tone, with many footnotes and no illustrations. Only later, as children became their main audience, did they take out some of the more adult content.

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