Miserably ever after: U of M professor's fairy tales translation reveals Grimm side


Remember in Cinderella when an ugly sister tries on the golden slipper and it doesn't fit so she cuts off part of her foot to fit it in? Wait ... what?!

Classic fairy stories have been given new life thanks to University of Minnesota professor Jack Zipes, whose new book, published by Princeton University Press, translates Grimm's Fairy Tales as they were originally told.

And these are no sanitized Disney versions: they are the Brothers Grimm's very first edition of tales published in German in 1812, and are full to the brim of the dark and macabre.

The book paints a very different picture than the versions later released by the brothers and the stories made popular through film and television, with The Guardian picking out the following highlights:

  • Rapunzel becomes pregnant after having a "merry time" with her prince in her tower, asking her captor Mother Gothel why her clothes were becoming tighter.
  • The Evil Queen is actually Snow White's mother - not her stepmother - and she demands the huntsman return with her liver and lungs to prove she's dead. Hansel and Gretel were also abandoned in the forest by their mother, not their stepmother.
  • Cinderella's stepmother encourages the ugly sisters to mutilate their own feet to fit into the golden (not glass) slipper left behind by Cinderella. The Prince catches on when he notices blood sloshing around in the slipper.

Zipes, professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the U, says the brothers published lighter versions of their stories from 1815 to make them more family-friendly, according to the Mail Online.

His book takes readers back to the stories as they were initially intended, and also features stories that were cut from later editions. The change from 'evil mother' to 'evil stepmother' for example, was because the brothers 'held motherhood sacred', while other changes were made to avoid offending "middle-class religious sensitivity."

"The original edition was not published for children or general readers. Nor were these tales told primarily for children," Zipes told The Guardian.

"It was only after the Grimms published two editions primarily for adults that they changed their attitude and decided to produce a shorter edition for middle-class families. This led to Wilhelm’s editing and censoring many of the tales."

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