Life’s a fairy tale

First page of Grimm's Children's and Household...

First page of Grimm’s Children’s and Household Tales, First part (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are looking for an opportunity or even a justification to draw back from the world and to spend some time on your own, the Fantasy and Science Fiction  might be exactly the thing for you to do. It does not mean that you would lose the relation to reality. It’s more that literally working with Fantasy and Science Fiction literature can also help you to find a relation to it. More than one moral of the story is adaptable to the current, real world and can still be helpful (even if you are neither princess nor witch)… There is an interesting reading list for the course. But even as an outsider the list is a good one and provides a handfull food for thougt. Almost all the books are available online for free.

  1. Grimm — Children’s and Household Tales (Lucy Crane translation with Walter Crane illustrations)
  2. Carroll — Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
  3. Stoker — Dracula (This reading is somewhat longer than most of the others. You may want to begin it in advance.)
  4. Shelley — Frankenstein
  5. Hawthorne & Poe — Stories and Poems (Hawthorne’s Mosses from an Old Manse includes „The Birthmark,“ „Rappaccini’s Daughter,“ and „The Artist of the Beautiful“ and his Twice-Told Tales includes „Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment“; The Portable Poe includes all the suggested Poe stories and poems
  6. Wells — The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, „The Country of the Blind,“ „The Star“
  7. Burroughs & Gilman — A Princess of Mars & Herland
  8. Bradbury — The Martian Chronicles (not available for legal, free download)
  9. LeGuin — The Left Hand of Darkness (not available for legal, free download)
  10. Doctorow — Little Brother (This reading is somewhat longer than most of the others. You may want to begin it in advance.)

It pays out now that I love reading and that I enjoy the genre. It gives me some time as I have already read 1. in the german original. Now the english version with lovely illustrations thrilled me. 2./3./4. I have already read in English but in any case I will still read through them again. It’s not the reading alone, of course. Each week there is the assignment to be uploaded and it is an 270 to 320 words essay. That does not sound much, however it does not write itself and with some other courses and a fulltime job going on, additional to other responsibilities, one needs to find the time. 🙂

If anyone of my readers calls 8./9. their own, please make me an offer I can not refuse.

The question for the first week was: Which learnings can we get out of Grimm’s tales even now? Why is it they do still touch us? How would the stories have changed if they would have been passed on verbally instead of being written down?

You can watch my essay in an animated form:
Hippo and Zebra talking about Grimm’s tales at the by sourwined on GoAnimate

Animated Presentations – Powered by GoAnimate.

or read it in classic text format:

Grimm’s Tales actually had been passed on verbally for many decades before being written down in the 19th century. If this would have continued, the tales certainly would have changed under influence of the time. People would have adapted them to contemporary topics and would have brought in their own moral standards and values. Role models like Princesses and Princes would have been replaced by other, contemporary persons. But when the brothers Grimm wrote down those stories they also have conserved what was of interest and importance at the time. For us it is like a time capsule. We open it with a completely different background and upbringing and therefor we can not fully understand. Or can we? The tales still  touch us and we still can apply their essence to our contemporary lifes.

The essence, the moral is:

  1. be true and be trustworthy. If your family, your boss, your neighbour can rely on you it means that the society as a whole also can rely on you and trust is what makes a society work. Be reliable as the sister who commits to seven years of silence to save the enchanted brothers even if it brings yourself in danger.
  2. do what is expected of you depending on your role in your family, in your job in your organization. Although rolemodels, e.g. male and female have changed, you still need to fulfill your role. In tales like „Fred and Kate“ the wife is not sure about her tasks in the household at all.
  3. do not be ignorant against other’s needs, like the lazy sister in “Mother Hulda” who was neither taking the breads out of the oven nor picking the ripe apples from the tree.
  4. If you fail at 1., 2. or 3., it will bring misfortune or death.
  These are core messages that are still valid today.

Do you remember a story out of Grimm’s tales that you especially loved or that had deeply impressed you? What was the moral of the story? Do you see any relation to society or your daily life?

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