- The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition trans. by Jack Zipes, and: The Original 1812 Grimm Fairy Tales: A New Translation of the 1812 First Edition Kinder- und Hausmärchen / Children’s and Household Tales, Collected Through the Brothers Grimm trans. by Oliver Loo
Although a number of English translations of the Grimms’ Kinder- und Hausmärchen are available, up to this point there has been no complete English translation of the first edition (volume 1, 1812; volume 2, 1815). This gap has now been filled with the appearance of the two books reviewed here, by Jack Zipes and Oliver Loo. These books are different in almost every way. For example, Zipes’s translation covers both volumes of the first edition, whereas Loo’s covers only the first volume; Zipes is one of the best-known scholars on the Brothers Grimm today, whereas Loo is an independent scholar; Zipes’s translation is published by a well-respected university press (Princeton), whereas Loo’s translation is self-published; and Zipes’s translation is (very nicely) illustrated (by Andrea Dezsö), whereas Loo’s is not. In addition, the two authors have quite different philosophies of translation. This last difference necessitates further commentary, because it directly affects the quality of the two translations. Zipes writes:
I have endeavored to capture the tone and style of the different tales by translating them into a basic contemporary American idiom. My main objective was to render the frank and blunt qualities of the tales in a succinct American English. . . . The Grimm’s tales, though diverse and not their own, share an innocent and naïve morality that pervades their works. It is this quality that I have tried to communicate in my translation.(xlv)
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In contrast to Zipes’s more idiomatic translation, Loo contends that other translators invariably deviate somehow from the originals. He rejects this approach in favor of a much more literal translation:
What my translations aim to be are faithful translations of the first edition from 1812 translated as closely as possible from the original German text without additions, modifications, or removals of text. I really do mean faithful. I will say that they are accurate and authentic. My translations can be compared line by line with the original text. No words were added or deleted or changed from the text, except minor changes for clarity. Nothing was censored. Nothing was rewritten. The stories appear almost exactly as they were written in 1812.(xxi)
To illustrate the results of these differing philosophies, consider the following passages, beginning with the very first sentence of the introduction. The German original reads, “Wir finden es wohl, wenn Sturm oder anderes Unglück, vom Himmel geschickt, eine ganze Saat zu Boden geschlagen, daß noch bein niedrigen Hecken oder Sträuchen, die am Wege stehen, ein kleiner Platz sich gesichert und einzelne Aehren aufrecht geblieben sind” (qtd. from Kinder- und Hausmärchen, gesammelt durch die Brüder Grimm, vergrößerter Nachdruck der zweibändigen Erstausgabe von 1812 und 1815 . . . von Heinz Rölleke in Verbindung mit Ulrike Marquardt [Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986], Band I, Seite V). Zipes translates this passage as “When a storm, or some other catastrophe sent from the heavens, levels an entire crop, we are relieved to find that a small patch, protected by tiny hedges of bushes, has been spared and that some solitary stalks remain standing” (3). Loo, on the other hand, translates it as, “We find it well, if storm or other misfortune, from heaven sent, a whole seed has strewn to ground, that still by low hedges or bushes, that stand at the way, a small place is secured and single ears still...