Editor and translator Maria Tatar has reassembled the original Grimm stories in the order they were first printed for the public. There are the most familiar stories - Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and The Golden Goose - but Tatar goes even further, adding stories that were originally meant for adults, later considered too bawdy for children‘s vivid imaginations.
In a very personal introduction, A.S. Byatt writes of her own yearning for myth and fantasy as a child, with talking birds, unicorns, princesses, imps and spun gold, hair cascading down the length of a turret. Byatt cautions readers about the violent nature of the past, that the acceptance of violence was integral to everyday life, the physical ingredient of the narrative, public hangings commonplace. The beauty of a fairy tale is that limbs grow back and the sleeper awakens, once more alive.
As writers, the Grimms are cognizant of the nature of evil, which is neither inconsequential nor personal but something dark and terrible. Its punishment is equally frightening, as it should be. Based on German stories with early pagan applications, the darkness exists as part of the natural order. Yet there is humor, structure and humility, the very mythology of humanity.
This book is a treasure on many levels: the early appreciation of fantasy from childhood, the historical implications of the tales, the psychology that underlies the power of story, and man's need for images to act great battles of good and evil. These wonderful, familiar stories are brought to life by the exquisite illustrations, both black and white and full color, and the annotated remarks that add such flavor to the interpretation. And Tatar has another surprise in this volume: a biographical essay on the Grimm Brothers, their personal lives and political views, as well as the original prefaces.
Like the others in this series (The Annotated Wizard of Oz, The Annotated A Christmas Story), this volume is beautifully illustrated and annotated with details that personalize the age-old tales, revealing original publisher’s names and themes, a behind-the-scenes peek at the historical background of those fairy tales we have loved since childhood. A visual and intellectual treat, The Annotated Brothers Grimm is a feast of possibilities, fancies, fears and dreams. The impossible is possible. It is all a matter of imagination.