The Grimm Reader: The Classic Tales of the Brothers Grimm

By Gray, William | Western Folklore, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

The Grimm Reader: The Classic Tales of the Brothers Grimm


Gray, William, Western Folklore


The Grimm Reader: The Classic Tales of the Brothers Grimm. Translated and edited by Maria Tatar. Introduction by A.S. Byatt. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. Pp. xxxix + 325. Introductory essays, preface to volume one of the first edition of Children 's Stories and Household Tales, comments about fairy tales by famous authors. $16.95 paper.)

This new edition of Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen [Children's and Household Tales] , translated and edited by Maria Tatar, is a welcome addition to the collection of excellent editions of Grimm vying for readers' attention. The competition, however, is stiff: David Luke's 1982 Penguin edition (revised 2004) is still highly respected, not least by Joyce Crick in the Acknowledgements to her Oxford University Press World's Classics edition of 2005. (I ought here to declare an interest in David Luke's edition, having been present as a student at the scene of its writing - I particularly remember meeting Gilbert McKay who rendered some of the Grimms' dialect tales into Scots.) And in a curious way Tatar's Grimm Reader is also in competition with itself. Though Tatar's 2004 The Annotated Brothers Grimm (also with Norton) has more scholarly apparatus, it is also a very attractive book for the general reader. Tatar's The Grimm Reader is effectively a paperback version of The Annotated Brothers Grimm, minus the color illustrations and some (though not all) of the scholarly apparatus.

Like die editions by Luke and Crick, Tatar's version of KHM is a selection, though it contains fewer tales than either Luke's or Crick's (46 as opposed to Luke's 65 and Crick's 82). So with roughly half the number of tales that there are in Crick, Tatar's wouldn't be die first choice if quantity is a criterion - though if it is, then Jack Zipes's Complete Fairy Tales of Grimm (Vintage 2007) would seem the best bet. Tatar, like Crick and Zipes, retains the order of the 1857 edition of KHM (Luke groups his selection according to his own criteria, explained in his Introduction) . Oddly, however, in The Grimm Reader Tatar makes one unexplained change from die traditional KHM order dial she follows in The Annotated Brothers Grimm: tales number 2 (? Fairy Tale about a Boy Who Left Home to Learn about Fear' - KHM 4) and number 33 ('The Poor Miller's Boy and The Cat' - KHM 106) are transposed.

In terms of the actual translations, Tatar's is more amenable to being read aloud than either Luke's or Crick's versions. The latter are excellent translations, but Tatar's is a pleasure to read, more conversational and even colloquial. The occasional American inflection to this colloquial quality may put off some British readers (e.g. "hollering" [226]; "the boy got really mad" [228]). However, Norton is clearly aiming this translation at an American market (and an "American" world market), so irritating the odd prickly Brit presumably isn't an issue. One delicate issue is die translation of the tales in dialect. Tatar, like Crick and indeed Zipes, simply sidesteps this issue, diough Luke offers translations into Irish and Scots dialects (the latter by Gilbert McKay, mentioned above). On one notoriously tricky issue, Tatar (like Zipes) opts to render "Aschenputtel" as "Cinderella" (versus Luke's "Ashiepattel" and Crick's "Ashypet"). Regards "Allerleirauh," where in terms of translating the eponymous name into English, anything seems to go (Luke, Crick and Zipes each translate this name differently), Tatar goes for "Furrypelts. …

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