“Once upon a time, two German brothers began collecting the best fairytales of their age,” reads a story in The Guardian today about the enduring legacy of a certain set of children’s stories. “They gathered an array of stories involving princes and princesses, forests, castles and magic, but also darker sagas of cannibalism, dismemberment, murder and evil stepmothers.
“The 200th anniversary on Thursday of the first publication of the Grimm brothers’ Die Kinder und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales), a collection of 86 stories that became worldwide classics, is triggering a year of feverish celebrations in Germany to mark the birth of one of the most frequently read books in the world.
“Academics from around the globe, meeting this week in the central German city of Kassel, close to the brothers’ birthplace, are kicking off the 2013 celebrations with a Grimm brothers’ congress. Participants, ranging from lexicographers to psychoanalysts, will focus on everything from the book’s enduring legacy to the brothers’ impact on German grammar and how they shaped the nation’s erotic imagination. ‘Even during their lifetime the Grimms’ book became a huge bestseller among every section of society,’ said Claudia Brinker-von der Heyde, the congress president. ‘And so they became an indispensable part of our everyday culture and our national identity.”
“Other Grimm events will include forest trails in the western city of Marburg where the brothers studied, light shows, art installations, cabarets, theatre productions, readings and operas. Amid all the fanfare for the siblings who gave the world those unforgettable, childhood-defining tales of Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Rapunzel, cultural observers say the anniversary is above all a chance to examine once again a literary legacy that has often been associated with the gloomier side of German history.”