Philip Pullman's Grimm's Fairytales

Philip Pullman -- best know for his Dark Materials series -- has written a new edition of the Brothers Grimm stories, called Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version. It's the 200th anniversary of the Grimm collection, and Pullman's edition includes author's notes and Aarne–Thompson classifications.

By Cory Doctorow at 6:00 am Thu, Nov 8, 2012

Philip Pullman -- best know for his Dark Materials series -- has written a new edition of the Brothers Grimm stories, called Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version. It's the 200th anniversary of the Grimm collection, and Pullman's edition includes author's notes and Aarne–Thompson classifications. Pullman has revisited the stories with a light touch, not attempting to modernize them, but rather pulling from lots of different sources and versions to assemble coherent tales that have all of the teeth and blood of the original pieces. Pullman's Grimms are stories stripped to the bone, where every sentence just moves the thing forward, where almost no characters have names, motivations are explicit and stated, and stuff happens fast. It was a fantastic read.

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version

Philip Pullman -- best know for his Dark Materials series -- has written a new edition of the Brothers Grimm stories, called Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version. It's the 200th anniversary of the Grimm collection, and Pullman's edition includes author's notes and Aarne–Thompson classifications. Pullman has revisited the stories with a light touch, not attempting to modernize them, but rather pulling from lots of different sources and versions to assemble coherent tales that have all of the teeth and blood of the original pieces. Pullman's Grimms are stories stripped to the bone, where every sentence just moves the thing forward, where almost no characters have names, motivations are explicit and stated, and stuff happens fast. It was a fantastic read.

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version

Published 6:00 am Thu, Nov 8, 2012

About the Author

I write books. My latest are: a YA graphic novel called In Real Life (with Jen Wang); a nonfiction book about the arts and the Internet called Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age (with introductions by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer) and a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.

7 Responses to “Philip Pullman's Grimm's Fairytales

  1. tw1515tw says:

    Pullman pissed off a few people with his discussion of his book on BBC Radio 4 last month.

    From http://sallypommeclayton.com/blog/?p=927:
    “The programme had come to the conclusion that no one tells Grimm’s fairytales any more. They also seemed to think there is no difference between reading a story and telling it. In fact Grimm’s fairytales are a staple part of a storytellers repertoire all over the world, tellers translate and translocate the stories, making them their own. Last year I had a dialogue with a group of storytellers in South India who were performing Grimm’s fairytales. Many of the stories in the Grimm’s collection are not unique to Germany, versions of them can be found in other cultures. I often compare different versions of a story, then stitch together my own.”

    There’s nothing wrong with re-interpreting Grimm tales, but  if you don’t understand the telling of the tale, you’ll miss their essence.

  2. dragonfrog says:

    “Pullman’s Grimms are stories stripped to the bone, where every sentence just moves the thing forward”

    So, exactly the opposite of His Dark Materials.

    So many people raved about how great that was, I forced myself through The Golden Compass (bzw. Northern Lights) and halfway into The Amber Spyglass, but I couldn’t take the constant pattern of – children flail about aimlessly for a while – children hide as knowledgeable adults show up – adults have a long exposition-y discussion – children flail aimlessly some more.

    • jandrese says:

      Aww, you missed the “best” part where the final book suddenly cuts away from the epic final confrontation to spend half of its pages espousing the benefits of Unitarian universalism with a bunch of weird but boring aliens.

      The kids do kind of get their act together by the end of the second book though, just in time for the story to go completely off the rails. 

  3. privatedick says:

    I wonder how he dealt with that Grimm classic, “A Jew Among Thorns”. Seriously, you can find it in any unabridged Grimm.

  4. jandrese says:

    I find it amusing that one of the things that apparently turned off a lot of readers in His Dark Materials was the fact that the underage protagonist and her sketchy boyfriend have sex (off camera, and only vaguely mentioned) in the third book.  

    So he puts out a new book and has children spooning right on the cover.

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