Page:Grimm's Household Tales, vol.1.djvu/9

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
v
PREFACE.

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.