Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, commonly known as the Brothers Grimm, were not primarily writers but philologists whose names are still as well known in the field of linguistics as they are to readers of fairy tales. Grimm’s Law is a basic rule in the study of Indo-European languages, and the dictionary of the German language is largely their work. Although the fairy tales were always intended to be read by children, they were also meant to represent German culture at its most fundamental level. The Grimms thought that culture at the level of the common people exists in its purest form and is the least influenced by foreign traditions.
During the late eighteenth century, after centuries of cultural stagnation, Germany experienced a cultural renaissance, which brought with it a pride in all things German. The fairy tales were the Grimms’ contribution to that flowering. Theirs remains one of the largest, and certainly the most famous, of national collections. Among the best-known stories are “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White,” “The Golden Goose,” “The Goose Girl,” “Rumplestiltskin,” “The Frog Prince,” “The Juniper Tree,” and “Snow White and Rose Red,” and these and many others have become the unquestioned property of childhood in the Western world. In many instances, popular children’s books quickly become dated or are crowded into the background by more recent books, but Grimm’s Fairy Tales remains as popular as...
(The entire section is 1562 words.)
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