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  • Grimm Legacies: The Magic Spell of the Grimms’ Folk and Fairy Tales by Jack Zipes, and: The Complete First Edition: The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
  • Jan Susina (bio)
Grimm Legacies: The Magic Spell of the Grimms’ Folk and Fairy Tales, by Jack Zipes. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015.
The Complete First Edition: The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Translated by Jack Zipes. Illustrated by Andrea Dezsö. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015.

Jack Zipes has spent much of his academic career studying folk and fairy tales. Having written sixty critical books, edited collections, and translations, Zipes is perhaps the best known and the most influential American scholar working on folk tales. Zipes could be considered the James Brown of the field of folk and fairy tale research: the hardest working guy in the business. Becoming a professor emeritus hasn’t slowed him down in the least, as these two volumes attest. It is the Grimms and their influential collection of folk tales that consistently bring out his best critical work. So it comes as no surprise that in 2012, the bicentenary year of the publication of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s first volume of Kinder- und Hausmärchen, Zipes was a frequent speaker at many academic conferences held in North America and Europe celebrating this literary anniversary. The six interlocking chapters of Grimm Legacies are based on presentations that Zipes gave at conferences and universities focusing on the cultural legacies of the Grimms’ tales and the changing nature of the ways that the Grimms’ tales have been interpreted and promoted during the past 200 years. Grimm Legacies takes a long look at the evolving cultural impact and influence of the Grimms’ tales as folklore and children’s literature. The book’s subtitle, The Magic Spell of Grimms’ Folk and Fairy Tales, cleverly alludes to Zipes’s first critical study, Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales (1979); this volume simultaneously functions as a summing of some of the key arguments of Zipes’s impressive scholarly career.

While some of information found in Grimm Legacies was previously examined in Zipes’s The Brothers Grimm: From Enchanted Forest to the Modern World (1988), the complicated changing nature of the tales is worth repeating. At times reading Grimm Legacies, it seemed that the common perceptions about the Grimms and their tales were wrong. [End Page 238] Zipes reminds readers that the Grimms’ tales are not strictly fairy tales and that they did not use the term “fairy tales” when referring to the stories. With the title Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children and Household Tales), the Grimms did not mean to suggest that the collected tales were for children, or even about children, but that they believed that the stories were innocent and pure, like children. In preserving these stories, the Grimms sought to reinforce and reinvigorate the cultural memory and heritage of the German people. But the title was confusing for many readers; the first volume of their collected tales, when it was published in 1812, was not well received. Critics complained the stories were too crude and not appealing to children. Zipes notes that two key terms are absent from the title, German and fairy tales, which over time have become intimately linked to the collection. The first edition was intended for adults, particularly scholars and antiquarians. But gradually the Grimms expanded their readership to include children, and subsequently modified the tales in the seven editions published during their lifetimes to make them more acceptable to children, or at least to the parents of children. Their collection is diverse and includes a range of stories including tall tales, animal tales, nonsense stories, religious tales, and magic tales (Zaubermärchen), which are the most familiar of the stories that have come to be known as fairy tales. Despite what the Grimms stated in their prefaces to various editions of their collection, not all of the tales came from the oral tradition; they adapted stories that they located in texts from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. While the Grimms maintained that...


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pp. 238-243
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