A postcard from the 1800s shows the seven dwarfs finding Snow White asleep in their bedroom. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm
by Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm, Jack Zipes and Andrea Dezso
It’s well-known that our favorite fairy tales started out darker than the ones Disney animators brought to life. But you might be surprised by how much darker the originals were.
For the first time, a new translation of the Brothers Grimm’s tales reveals exactly how unsanitized and murderous the bedtime stories really were.
Jack Zipes, author of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, is the only person who has ever translated the first edition of their tales into English.
“Some of them are extremely dark and harrowing,” Zipes tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “Many are somewhat erotic and deal with incest. Most of them are not what we call fairy tales; they tend to be animal tales or warning tales.”
Take, for example, Snow White. In the modern version of the tale, the Evil Queen is Snow White’s stepmother.
But in the first edition, Snow White is only 7 years old, and it’s her biological mother who wants to murder her for her beauty.
The stories are hardly appropriate for children by today’s standards, and at the outset, they weren’t intended to be.
The Grimms “collected these tales to show what life was like,” says Zipes. “And they wanted to reveal what they considered the divine truths of the tales.”
And the tales endure. Zipes says that’s because they resonate in every era. “I think they speak to the human condition. …
They also provide hope. For the most part, there is social justice in these tales and … we need that. We need the hope that these tales provide.”
James Gillray (1757-1815) was among the most popular, prolific, revered, and reviled print satirists of the golden age of English caricature, the late eighteenth century.
He took special delight in attacking the excesses of the royal family.
Here, he caustically depicts King George III, Queen Charlotte, and the Prince of Wales (later George IV) gorging themselves on the national treasury, labelled “John Bull’s Blood.”
The title, “Monstrous Craws,” refers to the rapidly expanding gullets dangling from the royal necks, probably inspired by the recent public display in London of three “wild-born human beings,” who apparently exhibited such features.
The Library acquired this print with almost 10,000 other English satires from the Royal Library at Windsor Castle in 1921.
lllustrations from Everard Digby’s De Arte Natandi (The Art of Swimming) published in 1587, considered the first English treatise on the practice.
Divided into two parts, the first is largely theoretical (Digby wrote in Latin, though it would be translated into English by Christopher Middleton eight years later).
The second part is concerned with practical demonstration borne out in a series of 40 beautiful woodcuts, all composed from five landscape blocks into which swimmers in various positions have been placed.
The work was hugely influential, not just providing a practical guide to staying afloat and different strokes but also in its attention to issues of safety. As the Wellcome Library blog notes: “The work is alive to the dangers of swimming outdoors:
Digby makes careful note of the safest methods of entering rivers, warning against jumping in feet first (particularly if the water has a muddy bottom to which your feet would stick) and advocating a slow and patient entry.
Swimmers are also advised to have a companion with them, to help if they get into difficulties. Digby also advises on the different kinds of water that can be swum in, advising against swimming in murky ponds (in which animals may have been washed).”
Born in 1550, Digby was an academic theologian at Cambridge University, though in 1587, the same year as his swimming treatise was published, he was expelled from his college of St John’s partly due to his habit of blowing a horn and shouting around the College grounds.
Steam trains have had a lasting romantic appeal, especially for photographers.
In the new book Smoke Over Steamtown, published by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., Dennis A. Livesey documents the steam trains and the people who run them at Steamtown National Historic Site, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a working railroad museum dedicated to the history of steam trains in the United States.
Livesey is a train photographer whose work has appeared in magazines including Trains and Railfan & Railroad.
Along with shots of locomotives passing through snowy landscapes framed by billowing clouds, Smoke Over Steamtown also focuses on life in the maintenance shop and yard, recording images and stories from the people who work as mechanics and crew for the site’s steam locomotives, diesel-electric locomotives, passenger cars and freight cars.
“My first visits here were made as a photographer, inspired by such greats as O. Winston Link and Richard Steinheimer, who tried to capture the steam train experience on film.”
But he eventually “stepped through the looking glass,” as he puts it, and began working on the trains as a volunteer, in addition to photographing them. “Having undergone rigorous training, I serve as a Steamtown trainman and railroader myself.
Instead of capturing the action of others on camera, I am now the one throwing track switches, hooking up air hoses, turning locomotives on the ninety-foot turntable, and giving hand signals to the engineer who stops and starts the locomotive on my say-so.”
The result is an insider’s view of the work of running the site and its trains. Writes Livesey,
“This participation has not only been a new personal experience, it has invigorated my photography, providing a new perspective and lending an authenticity that it did not possess before.”