Once There Were Two Brothers Named Grimm

A Reintroduction
  • Jack Zipes


Many are the fairy tales and myths that have been spread about the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. For a long time it was believed that they had wandered about Germany and gathered their tales from the lips of doughty peasants and that all their tales were genuinely German. Although much of what had been believed has been disproved by recent scholarship,1 new rumors and debates about the Grimms keep arising. For instance, one literary scholar has charged them with manufacturing the folk spirit of the tales in order to dupe the general public in the name of nationalism.2 Other critics have found racist and sexist components in the tales that they allege need expurgation,3 while psychologists and educators battle over the possible harmful or therapeutic effects4 of the tales. Of course, mention must be made of the feminist critiques of the Grimms, who allegedly skewed the tales to fit patriarchal expectations and offered very few alternatives to stereotypes of passive women.5 Curiously, most of the critics and most of the introductions to the English translations of the Grimms’ tales say very little about the brothers themselves or their methods for collecting the tales—as though the Grimms were incidental to their tales.6


Fairy Tale Scarlet Fever German Literature Unfair Labor Practice Democratic Reform 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    In particular, see the work of Heinz Rölleke, “Wo das Wünschen noch geholfen hat”: Gesammelte Aufsätze zu den “Kinder- und Hausmärchen der Brüder Grimm (Bonn: Bouvier, 1985) and Die Märchen der Brüder Grimm (Munich Artemis, 1985). Rölleke summarizes most of the important research in Germany. See also chapter 7 of the present volume, “Recent Psychological Approaches with Some Questions about the Abuse of Children,” which provides a summary of contemporary scholarship.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See John Ellis, One Fairy Story too Many: The Brothers Grimm and Their Tales (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983). Cf. My review, “Mountains out of Mole Hills, a Fairy Tale,” Children’s Literature 13 (1985): 215–219.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    There are numerous works on these topics. Among the most provocative are: Andrea Dworkin, Woman Hating (New York: Dutton, 1974);Google Scholar
  4. Robert Moore, “From Rags to Witches: Stereotypes, Distortions and Anti-humanism in Fairy Tales,” Interracial Books for Children 6 (1975): 1–3;Google Scholar
  5. Lilyane Mourey, Introduction aux contes de Grimm et de Perrault (Paris: Minard, 1978);Google Scholar
  6. Jennifer Waelti-Walters, “On Princesses: Fairy Tales, Sex Roles and Loss of Self,” International Journal of Women’s Studies 2 (March/April 1979): 180–188.Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    Cf. Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (New York: Knopf, 1976).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 5.
    Cf. Ruth Bottigheimer, Grimms’’ Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the Tales (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987);Google Scholar
  9. Maria Tatar, The Hard Facts of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987);Google Scholar
  10. and Marina Warner, From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers (London: Chatto & Windus, 1995).Google Scholar
  11. 6.
    The major exceptions in English are Christa Kamenetsky, The Brothers Grimm and Their Critics: Folktales and the Quest for Meaning (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1992)Google Scholar
  12. and James M. McGlathery, Grimms Fairy Tales: A History of Criticism on a Popular Classic (Columbia, SC: Camden House, 1993). In Germany, the work of Heinz Rölleke, Lothar Bluhm, and contributors to the publications of the Brüder Grimm-Gesellschaft tend to base their philological studies on careful historical research related to the lives of the Grimms.Google Scholar
  13. 7.
    Ruth Michaelis-Jena, The Brothers Grimm (New York: Praeger, 1970), 10.Google Scholar
  14. 8.
    Jacob Grimm, “Selbstbiographie” in Auswahl aus den Kleinen Schriften (Hamburg: Gutenberg, 1904), 19–20.Google Scholar
  15. 9.
    In Irma Hildebrandt, Es waren ihrer Fünf: Die Brüder Grimm und ihre Familie (Cologne: Diederichs, 1984), 34–35.Google Scholar
  16. 10.
    See Wilhelm Schoof, “Aus der Jugendzeit der Brüder Grimm,” Hanausches Magazin 13 (1934): 81–96, and 14 (1935): 1–15.Google Scholar
  17. 14.
    Heinz Rölleke, ed., Briefwechsel zwischen Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm (Stuttgart: Hirzel, 2001), 30.Google Scholar
  18. 15.
    See Hermann Grimm, Gustav Hinrichs, and Wilhelm Schoof, eds., Briefwechsel zwischen Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm aus der Jugendzeit, 2d rev. ed. (Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus, 1963)Google Scholar
  19. and Rölleke, ed., Briefwechsel zwischen Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm (2001).Google Scholar
  20. 16.
    In Gabriele Seitz, Die Brüder Grimm: Leben—Werk—Zeit (Munich: Winkler, 1984), 48.Google Scholar
  21. 17.
    In Gunhild Ginschel, Der junge Jacob Grimm (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1967), 40.Google Scholar
  22. 18.
    G. Ronald Murphy, The Owl, the Raven, the Dove: The Religious Meaning of the Grimms’ Magic Fairy Tales (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 3–4.Google Scholar
  23. See also Wilhelm Solms, Die Moral von Grimms Märchen (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1999).Google Scholar
  24. 19.
    Jürgen Habermas, Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit (Berlin: Luchterhand, 1962).Google Scholar
  25. 20.
    Manfred Kluge, ed., Die Brüder Grimm in ihren Selbstbiographien (Munich: Heyne, 1985), 64.Google Scholar
  26. 23.
    Cf. Hans Bernd Harder and Ekkehard Kaufmann, eds., Die Brüder Grimm in ihrer amtlichen und politischen Tätigkeit (Kassel: Weber & Wiedemeyer, 1985), 70–71.Google Scholar
  27. 24.
    Cf. Ludwig Denecke, “Die Göttinger Jahre der Brüder Jacob und Wilhlem Grimm,” Göttinger Jahrbuch 25 (1977): 139–155.Google Scholar
  28. 26.
    See Hartwig Schulz, ed. Der Briefwechsel Bettina von Arnim mit den Brüdern Grimm 1838–1841 (Frankfurt am Main: Insel, 1985).Google Scholar
  29. 28.
    See Holger Ehrhardt, Briefwechsel der Brüder Grimm mit Hermann Grimm (Kassel: Verlag der Brüder Grimm-Gesellschaft, 1998).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jack Zipes 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jack Zipes

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations