Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm

Edited by Philip PullmanThese are the Grimm fairytales as pulled from various sources, both well-loved and obscure, edited by Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass. It’s probably a given that the fairytales we absorb as children don’t generally sound quite the same when we hear them again as adults (although that probably also has something to do with Disney and the variations of some tales, especially the most popular such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, that abound), and while you might already know some of the gory originals to the stories you know and love – the removal of various parts of the feet in Cinderella, for one, is pretty well-circulated – Pullman does an excellent job choosing and editing the tales that he chooses to include in this volume.

Pullman states from the start that he has taken liberties with some of the tales, leaving others in their original state, and he lets you know after each of the fairytales which ones have been revised from their original state and which have been preserved in whole, and, most importantly, why. He also makes a good point: fairytales were, and remain in part, a part of oral tradition, and as such the performer of the tale makes their own changes to parts of the story, whether it be the plot or the details, in order to tailor it to their way of storytelling – so why not change what doesn’t seem to be working, as an editor, to make even better fairytales for the reader?

As for the stories that Pullman chooses, there are the beloved oldies that most everyone will recognize, some that seem very reminiscent of other tales (The Goose-Girl at the Well & King Lear, anyone?), along with some really obscure ones I’ve never so much as heard of, such as the tale about The Mouse, The Bird, and The Sausage. The sausage – a bratwurst, if you care to know – features as one of the characters. He talks, he walks, he swims… in vegetable soup… to season it… and I’m not going to spoil it for you. So if you want to find out what happened to the mouse, bird, and sausage, you’ll have to pick up this book!


Looking for more Brothers Grimm? Here’s a general search for Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm. I’m rather surprised the two searches aren’t turning up the exact same list, but I’m also quite certain there’s bound to be a fair amount of overlap. Looking into the details, some of them, such as The Annotated Brothers Grimm, only cite one of them (in this case Wilhelm) as one of the authors, which makes me wonder whether it’s actually just that the authors or editors of these materials have separated so well which tales were brought forward by whom (despite the fact that many if not most of them were a collaborative effort), or if the citation of one is enough to imply the other? If you’re interested in pursuing this line of thought, perhaps metadata should be your next read?

As for other classic fairytales, take a look at Hans Christian Anderson, Charles Perrault, Joseph Jacobs, Madame d’Aulnoy, and Andrew Lang to get you started.

About Karen

Karen (she/hers) is a Culinary Literacies Specialist at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre library. When not in the kitchen, she can be found knitting, reading, and repeating.  |  Meet the team