Grimm, Brothers

Website: http://www.grimmfairytales.com

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The Brothers Grimm (Gebrüder Grimm) are Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm.

The collection of children's tales

They are well known for publishing collections of German fairy tales, as Kinder- und Hausmärchen ("Children's and Household Tales"), in 1812, with a second volume in 1814 ("1815" on the title page), and many further editions during their lifetimes. English translations of the 7th edition (1857) remain popular, though largely now as highly expurgated and saccharine versions meant for children, though the folk tales the Grimms collected had not previously been considered children's stories. Witches, goblins, trolls and wolves prowl the dark forests of the Grimms' ancient villages, as well as the deeper psyche of the insular German city-states of the time. Modern psychologists and cultural anthropologists often read in quite a bit of emotional angst, fear of abandonment, parental abuse, and sexual development in the stories that are often read as bed-time stories in the West. The child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, in his book The Uses of Enchantment, read familiar Grimm's fairy tales as Freudian myths.

Linguistics

In the very early 19th century, the time in which the Brothers Grimm lived, Germany as we know it today did not yet exist; it was basically a loose collection of principalities and small countries. The major unifying factor for the German people of the time was a common language. There was as yet no significant German literary history. So part of what motivated the brothers in their writings and in their lives was the desire to help create a German identity.

Less well known to the general public outside Germany is the Brothers Grimms' work on a German dictionary, the Deutsches Wörterbuch. Indeed, the Deutsches Wörterbuch was the first major step in creating a standardized German language. Being very extensive (more than 20 volumes) it is still considered as the standard reference for German etymology.

They discovered the Grimm's law, Germanic Sound Shift, which was the first non-trivial systematic sound change ever to be discovered.

Biography

From 1837-1841, the Brothers Grimm joined five of their colleague professors at the University of Göttingen. This group came to be known as Die Göttinger Sieben (The Göttingen Seven). They protested against King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover, whom they accused of violating the constitution of that state. For this, they were all fired from their university posts by the king.

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