Two hundred years of The Brothers Grimm

Statue of The Brother’s Grimm, Hanau Germany, by Syrius Eberle, 1895-96. CC-by-SA-3.0

In honor of the bicentennial of Children’s Household Tales (1812) by the Brothers Grimm, the University of Florida presents Grimmfest this month and next.  The university is home to the Baldwin Collection of Historical Children’s Literature, which features 2500 digitized children’s texts and a virtual exhibition of 19th century children’s book covers.

The Grimmfest page,, has links to other fairytale resources, including related contemporary books and movies.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales, 1865 cover. Public domain.

“Traditional fairy tales have their roots in our oldest stories, in myths and legends, in those primal tales that were formed when human beings first began to speak…However we may wish to define fairy tales, they remain an inescapable part of our psyches and our cultures.  They are why we celebrate the underdog, and secretly acknowledge “The Ugly Duckling” as our own autobiography.  Through their flights of fantasy, fairy tales set us free to seek our happiness, to follow our bliss — if only for the few minutes we are enfolded in a particular tale.”

This is a marvelous resource for anyone wishing to delve into the roots of the stories we love.

The Importance of Stories and Listening

This wonderful article was sent to me by a friend and a marvelous storyteller, Robert Bela Wilhelm.

The article, “The Art of Listening,” by Henning Mankell, was published in the Dec. 10 New York Times.  Mankell is a Swedish author of many books, including the Wallendar novels.  He also spent 25 years in Africa, an experience central to what he writes here.

Henning Mankell

His comments on listening are striking:  “In Africa listening is a guiding principle. It’s a principle that’s been lost in the constant chatter of the Western world.”

Of great interest too is his observation that western story structure is simply one possibility among many.  Mankell writes:  “instead of linear narrative, there is unrestrained and exuberant storytelling that skips back and forth in time and blends together past and present. Someone who may have died long ago can intervene without any fuss in a conversation between two people who are very much alive.”

Check this out.  The article is brief and I’m sure you will enjoy it.