|About this Recording
NA200512 - GRIMM: Fairy Tales
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
The Frog Prince • Bearskin • The Elves and the Shoemaker • Snow White
Hansel and Gretel • The Golden Goose • The Dancing Shoes • Tom Thumb
Rumplestiltskin • Little Red Riding Hood • The Fisherman and his Wife
Cinderella • The Little Tailor
Grimm’s Fairy Tales was first published in 1812 and was the work of two German brothers, founders of the modern science of comparative linguistics.
They traveled through Germany to study the popular dialects and in doing so collected the folk tales that for generations had been current among the largely illiterate peasant societies.
These tales formed part of the popular culture, which is now occupied by modern forms of entertainment such as television and cinema and consequently would have been told to a mixed audience of both children and adults. It is significant that fairies rarely feature in these tales, and although the content seems to come from a childlike and fantastic imagination, a quick look at contemporary mass entertainment such as Superman and comic strips will remind us that both adults and children respond to flights of the imagination. We can laugh and cry, be frightened and reassured by events, which are far removed, from our everyday experiences. And so it is with these stories.
Although we no longer have an oral tradition of storytelling, the tales in this collection have probably evolved and changed substantially over the generations and indeed different versions exist in different countries. They have been abridged, translated and altered to suit changing sensibilities so that it is impossible to be sure which is the original version, indeed, the search for such a thing would be contrary to the tradition of folk tales. The teller of a tale would embellish and exaggerate to suit the audience, and this is no doubt one of the reasons for the enduring appeal of these stories... But this is only part of the explanation.
All these stories are set in unspecified places with little concern for exact dates. There is timelessness to them, which is both reassuring (this couldn’t possibly happen here) and disconcerting. Who, for example, has not come across someone like The Fisherman’s Wife whose greed and ambition can never be satisfied? And who can listen to Hansel and Gretel and not share their fear at being lost, and of the hidden perils of the dark forest? These are universal tales, which strike a chord even at the end of the twentieth century, hundreds of years since they were first told round the dying embers of a peasant hearth.
We owe a great debt to Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, whose painstaking research has left us with a collection of stories which will continue to delight
generations of listeners, and which could so easily have slipped into the mists
of time to be lost forever.
Notes by Heather Godwin
A frequent reader on Naxos AudioBooks, Laura Paton trained
at LAMDA where she won the St. Phillip’s Prize for Poetry and
the Michael Warre Award. She has toured the UK extensively
in productions as varied as The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Oscar Wilde’s Salomé.
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