Mar. 28th, 2009

shoebox_dw: (elephant plot)
So let's cheer things up a little around here! I know; why don't we discuss Grimm's Fairy Tales, the unabridged version of which I recently downloaded to my iTouch...and...uh...

OK, yes, problem.

After a week of this becoming steadily clearer, I have just one question: Why? Can somebody find me a book or something that explains what was going on back there? Not within the stories themselves; this has become one of those ironic factoids that the entire Internet is fond of telling each other, that these classic 'children's stories' are in fact stuffed to a giant's ceilings with imagery that'd keep Jeffrey Dahmer awake nights:

It was my mother who murdered me
It was my father who ate of me
It was my sister Marjorie
Who all my bones in pieces found
Them in her handkerchief she bound
and laid them under the juniper tree
Kywhitt, kywhitt, kywhitt I cry;
Oh, what a beautiful bird am I!

--The Juniper Tree

Just another adorable bedtime story making the rounds in the Rhineland, apparently. So what I really want to know is, was everyone in mediaeval Germany frankly psychotic? Or just the Brothers Grimm?

...OK, yes, I do understand about the stories being really for adults, and life being tough, cheap and short back then. Thing is, they're so very fatalistic about it that the modern reader starts to wonder how the race made it out intact. There's a kind of nihilistic weirdness running through the whole that just screams 'Therapy!' above and beyond the context.
Blood runs like a river, deus ex machinas rule the day, people are just as likely to be rewarded for selfish acts as selfless ones, and the main difference between good and evil is that Good is a whole lot cleverer. (In one story, Our Hero makes off with a fast horse and an invisibility cloak by convincing their owners to, I kid you not, let him try them on to see if they work. And they do. This kind of thing is repeated over and over again).

Net result: numerous stories wherein people end up apprenticing themselves out to the Devil - but not, in a touch I really like, before asking  "OK, but you promise this isn't going to mess up my shot at salvation?" On the other hand, this is a belief system in which God routinely hands over enchanted packs of cards to gambling addicts, and sorceresses cease to be a problem the instant they're touched with enchanted flowers revealed in dreams, so I just don't know. Would love to hear the scholarly sociological explanations behind that last one, though. Or possibly the pharmaceutical one.

Down the rabbit hole... )


shoebox_dw: (Default)

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