Grimm's Household Tales, Volume 1

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Grimm's Household Tales, Volume 1  (1884) 
by Brothers Grimm, translated by Margaret Hunt
For other versions of this work, see Grimm's Household Tales.














There would seem to be very little need of a preface to any book possessing the great advantage of an Introduction from the pen of Mr. Andrew Lang, especially when it is a book which has always been so popular in this country that it has fully proved its right to the name originally bestowed on it.

The reader may, however, like to know something of its history as told by one of its authors in the preface to the 2nd edition, which was published in 1819. The first edition was in two volumes, the first of which appeared in 1812. The brothers Grimm were thirteen years in collecting the stories in this volume. They were all picked up little by little from the lips of people living in Hesse and Hanau, the districts best known to the authors. The second volume was finished much more quickly: it was ready in 1814. Chance favoured them, friends helped them, but their best friend of all was the wife of a cow-herd living in the village of Niederzwehrn, near Cassel, a woman of about fifty, with intelligent and agreeable but somewhat resolute features, large, bright penetrating eyes, and a perfect genius for story-telling. "Her memory," Grimm tells us, "kept a firm hold of all sagas. She herself knew that this gift was not granted to every one, and that there were many who could remember nothing connectedly. She told her stories thoughtfully, accurately, and with wonderful vividness, and evidently had a delight in doing it. First, she related them from beginning to end, and then, if required, repeated them more slowly, so that after some practice it was perfectly easy to write from her dictation."

This is how the Brothers Grimm did write them; much that she said was taken down by them word by word and its fidelity is unmistakable. They bear emphatic witness to her ardent desire for accuracy. "Any one who holds that tradition is so easily falsified and carelessly preserved, that it is impossible for it to last for any length of time, ought to have heard how close she always kept to the story, and how zealous she was for its accuracy. When repeating it she never altered any part, and if she made a mistake always corrected it herself immediately."

A large proportion of the stories in these volumes comes from Hesse, which, as we are told, being a mountainous country lying far away from the great main roads, and with a population closely occupied in husbandry, is, of all German nations, that which amid all Time's changes has kept most fixedly to characteristic habits and customs.

The principle on which the Brothers Grimm worked shall be given in their own words: "Our first aim in collecting these stories has been exactness and truth. We have added nothing of our own, have embellished no incident or feature of the story, but have given its substance just as we ourselves received it. It will, of course, be understood that the mode of telling and carrying out of particular details is principally due to us, but we have striven to retain everything that we knew to be characteristic, that in this respect also we might leave the collection the many-sidedness of nature. For the rest, every one engaged on a work of this kind will know that this cannot be looked on as a careless or indifferent method of collection, but that, on the contrary, a care and skill which can only be gained by time are required to distinguish the version of the story which is simpler, purer and yet more complete in itself, from the falsified one. Whenever we found that varying stories completed each other, and that no contradictory parts had to be cut out before they could be joined together, we have given them as one, but when they differed, we have given the preference to that which was the better, and have kept the other for the notes.' The authors express great regret that in so many cases they have been obliged to give the stories in High-German, which, though it has gained in clearness, has "lost in flavour, and no longer has such a firm hold of the kernel of the thing signified." Whenever it was possible they have retained the patois of the district where they heard the story, and their two volumes contain stories in ten different dialects.

There have been several English translations of the Household Tales, and yet this is, I believe, the first which has aimed at presenting them precisely as given by the Brothers Grimm. They wrote down every story exactly as they heard it, and if some of its details chanced to be somewhat coarse, or if sacred persons were occasionally introduced with a daring familiarity, which to us seems almost to amount to profanity, they did not soften or omit these passages, for with them fidelity to tradition was a duty which admitted of no compromise—they were not providing amusement for children, but storing up material for students of folk-lore. English translators have, as is not unnatural, hitherto had children most in their minds, and have thought it well to change the devil of the German stories into a less offensive ogre or black dwarf, and so on. In this translation I have endeavoured to give the stories as they are in the German original, and though I have slightly softened one or two passages, have always respected the principle which was paramount with the brothers Grimm themselves. The notes too are now translated for the first time. I have been in some difficulty about the spelling of proper names, but have tried to adhere to that form of each name for which the authors themselves showed the most preference. They adopt several, and their spelling frequently differs from that which is commonly received, and yet they are such high authorities that it seems presumptuous to alter what they thought right.


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1. The Frog-King, or Iron Henry 1
2. Cat and Mouse in Partnership 4
3. Our Lady's Child 7
4. The Story of the Youth who went forth to learn what Fear was 11
5. The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids 20
6. Faithful John 23
7. The Good Bargain 31
8. The Wonderful Musician 35
9. The Twelve Brothers 37
10. The Pack of Ragamuffins 42
11. Brother and Sister 44
12. Rapunzel 50
13. The Three Little Men in the Wood 54
14. The Three Spinners 59
15. Hänsel and Grethel 62
16. The Three Snake-Leaves 69
17. The White Snake 72
18. The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean 76
19. The Fisherman and his Wife 78
20. The Valiant Little Tailor 85
21. Cinderella 93
22. The Riddle 100
23. The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage 103
24. Mother Holle 104
25. The Seven Ravens 108
26. Little Red-Cap 110
27. The Bremen Town-Musicians 114
28. The Singing Bone 117
29. The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs 119
30. The Louse and the Flea 125
31. The Girl without Hands 127
32. Clever Hans 133
33. The Three Languages 136
34. Clever Elsie 138
35. The Tailor in Heaven 141
36. The Wishing-Table, the Gold-Ass, and the Cudgel in the Sack 146
37. Thumbling 153
38. The Wedding of Mrs. Fox 158
39. The Elves 161
40. The Robber Bridegroom 164
41. Herr Korbes 167
42. The Godfather 168
43. Frau Trude 170
44. Godfather Death 171
45. Thumbling as Journeyman 174
46. Fitcher's Bird 178
47. The Juniper-Tree 181
48. Old Sultan 190
49. The Six Swans 192
50. Little Briar-Rose 197
51. Fundevogel 200
52. King Thrushbeard 203
53. Little Snow-White 207
54. The Knapsack, the Hat, and the Horn 215
55. Rumpelstiltskin 221
56. Sweetheart Roland 224
57. The Golden Bird 227
58. The Dog and the Sparrow 235
59. Frederick and Catherine 238
60. The Two Brothers 244
61. The Little Peasant 264
62. The Queen Bee 269
63. The Three Feathers 271
64. The Golden Goose 274
65. Allerleirauh 277
66. The Hare's Bride 282
67. The Twelve Huntsmen 283
68. The Thief and His Master 286
69. Jorinda and Joringel 288
70. The Three Sons of Fortune 291
71. How Six Men got on in the World 293
72. The Wolf and the Man 298
73. The Wolf and the Fox 299
74. Gossip Wolf and the Fox 301
75. The Fox and the Cat 302
76. The Pink 303
77. Clever Grethel 307
78. The Old Man and His Grandson 309
79. The Water-Nix 310
80. The Death of the Little Hen 311
81. Brother Lustig 312
82. Gambling Hansel 322
83. Hans in Luck 325
84. Hans Married 330
85. The Gold-Children 331
86. The Fox and the Geese 336
  Notes 337-454