Sunday Dec. 20, 2020’s Smile of the Day: Grimms’ Fairy Tales
On this Day:
Grimms’ Fairy Tales, originally known as the Children’s and Household Tales, a collection of fairy tales by the Grimm brothers or “Brothers Grimm”, Jacob and Wilhelm, was first published on 20 December 1812. The first edition contained 86 stories, and by the seventh edition in 1857, had 210 unique fairy tales.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were 2 of 8 children from their mother Dorothea (née Zimmer) and father Philipp Wilhelm Grimm. Philipp was a highly regarded district magistrate in Steinau an der Straße, about 50 km from Hanau. However, in 1796, their father died at the age of 44 from pneumonia. This was a tragic time for the Grimms because the family lost all financial support and relied on their aunt, Henriette Zimmer, and grandfather, Johann Hermann Zimmer.
Shortly after their grandfather died and they were again left to themselves to support their family in the future. Both were given special dispensations for studying law at the University of Marburg. They particularly needed this dispensation because their social standing at the time was not high enough to have normal admittance. University of Marburg was a small, 200-person university where most students were more interested in activities other than schooling.
Wilhelm became very interested in German literature and started collecting books. Once Jacob returned to Kassel in 1806, he adopted his brother’s passion and changed his focus from law to German literature. While Jacob studied literature and took care of their siblings, Wilhelm continued on to receive his degree in law at Marburg.
In 1808, their mother died, and it was hard on Jacob because he took the position in the family as a father figure, while also trying to be a brother. From 1806 to 1810, the Grimm family had barely enough money to properly feed and clothe themselves. During this time, Jacob and Wilhelm were concerned about the stability of the family.
Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano were good friends of the brothers and wanted to publish folk tales, so they asked the brothers to collect oral tales for publication. The Grimms 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 edition of their stories was published in 1812.
The first edition had such stories as Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin and of course, Little Red Riding Hood (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
Which of Grimm’s story characters would make the best referee? Snow White, because she’s the fairest of them all.
Second, a Song:
The tale of Little Red Riding Hood has different versions and different tellings. The story has been told and retold in stories, animation, movies, TV, music, video, video games and musicals.
The story revolves around a girl called Little Red Riding Hood. In Perrault’s versions of the tale, she is named after her red hooded cape/cloak that she wears. The girl walks through the woods to deliver food to her sickly grandmother (wine and cake depending on the translation). In Grimms’ version, her mother had ordered her to stay strictly on the path.
A Big Bad Wolf wants to eat the girl and the food in the basket. He secretly stalks her behind trees, bushes, shrubs, and patches of little and tall grass. He approaches Little Red Riding Hood, who naively tells him where she is going. He suggests that the girl pick some flowers as a present for her grandmother, which she does. In the meantime, he goes to the grandmother’s house and gains entry by pretending to be her. He swallows the grandmother whole (in some stories, he locks her in the closet) and waits for the girl, disguised as the grandma.
When the girl arrives, she notices that her grandmother looks very strange. Little Red then says, “What a deep voice you have!” (“The better to greet you with”, responds the wolf), “Goodness, what big eyes you have!” (“The better to see you with”, responds the wolf), “And what big hands you have!” (“The better to embrace you with”, responds the wolf), and lastly, “What a big mouth you have” (“The better to eat you with!”, responds the wolf), at which point the wolf jumps out of the bed and eats her, too. Then he falls asleep. In Charles Perrault’s version of the story (the first version to be published), the tale ends here. However, in later versions, the story continues generally as follows:
A woodcutter in the French version, but a hunter in the Brothers Grimm and traditional German versions, comes to the rescue with an axe, and cuts open the sleeping wolf. Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother emerge shaken, but unharmed. Then they fill the wolf’s body with heavy stones. The wolf awakens and attempts to flee, but the stones cause him to collapse and die. In Grimm’s version, the wolf leaves the house and tries to drink out of a well, but the stones in his stomach cause him to fall in and drown. Sanitized versions of the story have the grandmother locked in the closet instead of being eaten and some have Little Red Riding Hood saved by the lumberjack as the wolf advances on her rather than after she gets eaten, where the woodcutter kills the wolf with his axe.
Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs recorded their hit song, “Li’l Red Riding Hood” in 1966. On the Hot 100, “Lil’ Red Riding Hood” began its two-week peak at #2 the week of August 6, 1966, just as another fairy tale title, “The Pied Piper” by Crispian St. Peters, was ending its three-week peak at #4. The track did even better by Cash Box Magazine’s reckoning, reaching #1 the same week. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. It also reached #2 on the Canadian RPM Magazine charts August 22, 1966.
Sam’s version takes Wolf’s point of view, implying that he wants love rather than blood. Here, the Wolf befriends Little Red Riding Hood disguised as a sheep and offers to protect her on her journey through the woods (per Wikipedia).
Here is Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs performing “Little Red Riding Hood”. I hope you like this version!
Thought for the Day:
“Little Red Riding Hood was my first love. I felt that if I could have married Little Red Riding Hood, I should have known perfect bliss.” – Charles Dickens.
Have a great day!
© 2020 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky