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  • Grimms’ Tales Around the Globe: The Dynamics of Their International Reception ed. by Vanessa Joosen and Gillian Lathey
  • Kirsten Møllegaard (bio)
Grimms’ Tales Around the Globe: The Dynamics of Their International Reception. Edited by Vanessa Joosen and Gillian Lathey. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014. 312 pp.

The local adaptation of globalized products, or glocalization, is a core element of Grimms’ Tales Around the Globe, which focuses on the similarities and differences in the international reception of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s Kinder- und Hausmärchen. Each of the fourteen chapters focuses on some aspect of retellings, translations, and media adaptations of Grimms’ fairy tales in Asia (China, India, Japan, colonial and present-day Korea), Europe (Croatia, England, the former German Democratic Republic, France, Poland, Spain), and South America (Colombia).

Editors Vanessa Joosen and Gillian Lathey have done an excellent job organizing this solid corpus of eminent essays into a coherent work that illuminates the geographic range, historical contexts, and cultural forces that have influenced the many ways in which the Grimms’ classic fairy tales have been retold, translated, edited, and adapted from the early nineteenth century to today. Both editors have children’s literature as their area of expertise; they therefore pay simultaneous close attention to the shaping of children’s literature as a distinct literary product and to fairy tales as a specific literary genre. Joosen previously published Critical and Creative Perspectives on Fairy Tales (2011), and Lathey is the author of The Role of Translators in Children’s Literature: Invisible Storytellers (2006).

The introduction gives a concise overview of five common topics that the chapters analyze in greater detail: the rich folklorism inspired by the Grimms’ fairy tales; their narrative function as international fairy tales; the politics of translation within the historical contexts of nationalism and colonialism; the ways in which illustrations work as a medium for cross-cultural translation; and the political and ideological discourses that influenced the reception and adaptation of the tales over the past two centuries. Like each individual chapter, the introduction whets the reader’s curiosity to learn more. To this end, the book’s format is quite user-friendly. Each chapter is followed by endnotes and references, and there is a detailed index at the back. The meticulous references to primary and secondary sources positively reflect on the editors’ intention to stimulate further research. Grimms’ Tales Around the Globe does not attempt to make a comprehensive statement about the international reception of the [End Page 359] Grimms’ fairy tales; rather, it is meant to serve as an “introduction to the range of cross-cultural reinterpretations to date” (13). As such, it expands on the scholarly groundwork laid in previous volumes (e.g., Donald Haase’s The Reception of Grimms’ Fairy Tales, 1993) and is in dialogue with current scholarly works (such as Jack Zipes’s Grimm Legacies: The Magic Spell of the Grimms’ Folk and Fairy Tales, 2014).

Grimms’ Tales Around the Globe is divided into two parts. The first part examines cultural resistance to and assimilation of Kinder- und Hausmärchen. For example, in a chapter on the Polish reception of the Grimms’ tales, Monika Wozniak discusses how anti-German sentiments in Poland, in large part resulting from that country’s partition and foreign rule from 1796 to 1918, meant that the Grimms’ fairy tales were not translated and adapted to Polish until the 1890s, whereas Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, in comparison, had already been translated into Polish in the 1850s. Anti-German sentiments combined with local nationalist agendas were also the reason that the tales in Kinder- und Hausmärchen were domesticated and presented as local tales in some countries.

Several contributors discuss how folk- and fairy tales were engaged to imagine the nation, thus prompting translators to transpose the setting, climate, and characters from the Grimms’ Central European heartland into a geographic and cultural context more familiar to new readers. In a chapter on the reinterpretation of the Grimms’ fairy tales in Japan, Mayako Murai examines how the tales were domesticated for a Japanese readership so that violent elements were either downplayed or deleted and the rewards for good conduct were emphasized. Murai...


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pp. 359-361
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