Why, yes, I DID misspell grim. I did it on purpose. As a play-on words. You'll see in a second. Why am I explaining? Shutup.
This week is AIMS testing at our elementary school. Basically, they bring in the students one-on-one to see how much they know at the beginning of the year. They'll do it again at the end of the year and compare tests to see how much the students have learned. Anyhoo, they're using the music room to do the testing, which means that my music teacher and I have been booted to a much smaller classroom to do music. BECAUSE we've been relocated to a much smaller classroom for the week, we are not able to do much movement (I felt like I did aerobics all day, every day last week and this week I feel sedentary), SO after do some clappy stuff with the children sitting criss-cross applesauce on the carpet, we watch a movie about musicky stuff. On Monday, this was very interesting. But after watching two different music movies on Monday-one three times, and the other four times- I'm good on the knowledge of Saint Soune (the conducter) and his Carnival of Animals, the Harlem Boys' Choir, and Berlioz the Bear. AND Levar Burton. Yesterday, I brought a book (I'm reading 'Til We Have Faces by CS Lewis- which I've already read, but I'm slightly OCD with stuff I like), but today I forgot it. So, I saunter over to the library to see what we've got. I work at an elementary school that is only for K-5 and first grade, so our library selection is pretty limited to easy readers and Dr. Seuss. After looking for a few minutes, I pick up a very old copy of Grimm's Brothers Fairytales. It smelled old and moldy. But, like I said, slim pickins'. And I love to read, so I really don't care as long as it's something and not watching Levar Burton tell me again and again about the Harlem Boys' Choir.
I settle into my VERY COMFORTABLE small-child plastic chair and dive in. Now, I do know Grimm's fairy tales. We've all seen Disney's Cinderella and Snow White, and I'm quite familiar with Red Riding Hood. Especially the Bugs Bunny version. And I've checked out Grimm's fairy tales from the library before for the children to read aloud. However, those were more up-to-date versions, and so I've been sheltered from the real Grimm's. The real Grimm's fairytales are not pretty. They're ghastly and horrific. I would never read them to the children. I know what you're thinking, "Oh, we're such a namby-pamby society. Read the real ones!" You may not know that:
In Snow White:
When Snow White's stepmother sets the huntsman to kill her and he cannot, he brings back the heart of a wild pig to trick the queen into thinking it is really Snow White's. This is in the Disney version. But the evil step mother then SALTS IT AND BOILS IT AND CUTS IT UP AND EATS IT WITH RELISH. When she finds out that she is not dead, she sets out to kill her three different times (because of her own vanity, mind you) and all three times fails. After the third attempt (the poison apple one), the Prince saves Snow White and the plan their wedding pronto. The Queen decides to go (because the mirror has told her she is STILL not the fairest in the land) to the wedding and see the bride for herself. The people in the wedding party, figuring she would come I guess, have a pair of red-hot iron shoes for her to put on and then she is forced to dance in them until she dies. The End.
The Stepsisters want so much for the prince's slipper to fit their feet that the first sister, at the insistence of her mother, cuts OFF her big toe and crams her foot in the slipper. The Prince is tricked and the only way he knows that it is not the true foot is when the birds on the path tell him to look at the blood trail following the horse. The same thing happens (and the prince is tricked again-he's not a bright fellow) when the second sister CUTS OFF HER HEEL. Both the sisters recooperate from the injuries (I suppose) and, because they still are looking to be included in the fortune that Cinderella is about to acquire, go to the wedding. Before the ceremony, bird come to both the sisters and peck one eye out apiece. They then GO TO the ceremony (hello, are they not dying of agony?) and after the ceremony is over, more birds come and peck out the other eye. The End.
In Red Riding Hood:
I have actually heard this original version before. The wolf swallows whole the grandmother and Red Riding Hood and they are only saved by a huntsmen who slices the wolf up into pieces to fetch them out. Then they put a large stone back into the wolf and he dies (what, again?) because it is too heavy.
Other observations about Grimm's Fairytales:
There is lots of cheating of others and not always with a good moral. I thought fairytales had good morals. Sometimes they end the story with "and thus is the way of the world."
On some endings, I literally gasped because it was so horrible.
There is a lot of "swallowing them up whole". Tom Thumb was swallowed whole three different times (maybe four) and escapes when somebody slaughters the beast he is in. He is unscathed.
There were lots of beatings. Like the husband who declared he would "beat his wife if she were too stupid to notice if she was being cheated." She only misses her beating (his description was "black and blue for a year- and not with paint") when he cheats others on a path to get back the money he was cheated out of. And after he successfully cheats others, he goes back to the house, declaring to his wife that she has escaped a beating, this time, because of the stupidity of others. The End.
All in all, and I'm not done with the book yet, it's pretty horrific.
Moral to the story? Don't pick up an ancient version of Grimm's to read to your kids. But, read it for yourself because it's interesting (and frightening) to read what people long ago read to small children at bedtime. "Goodnight, children... Bwa, ha, ha, ha!!!!"