Friday, January 4, 2013
German philologist and cultural researcher Jacob Grimm was born on January 4, 1785. He developed Grimm's Law in linguistics (dealing with Germanic sound shifts) and co-edited with his brother, Wilhelm, the massive German Dictionary (Deutsches Wörterbuch, 1854) and Grimm's Fairy Tales, first published in 1812 as Children's and Household Tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen). The brothers were patriots seeking to preserve Germanic folktales and only inadvertently entertainers. Their collected stories offered life as generations of central Europeans knew it: capricious and cruel, laced with murder, mutilation, cannibalism, infanticide and incest. Tales included Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel and Snow White. The brothers subsequently softened, sweetened and sanitized the tales in multiple editions through the 1850s.