Sunday, May 27, 2012

Snow White

I have just finished reading The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales and was surprised to find that Snow White is also known as Snowdrop. Who knew?

This is one of the books Joseph Campbell put on his reading list when he taught Comparative Mythology as an Introduction to Cross-Cultural Studies at Sarah Lawrence College.  It must have been incredible to attend his class each week.  Alas, that option is not available but I have decided to work my way through the list without his guidance and imagine I am his pupil.

A short tale by the Grimm Brothers left an impression on me as I sat on the train commuting to work one morning.  It is entitled...

The Old Man and His Grandson

There was once a very old man, whose eyes had become dim, his ears dull of hearing, his knees trembled, and when he sat at table he
could hardly hold the spoon, and spilt the broth upon the table-cloth
or let it run out of his mouth.

His son and his son's wife were disgusted at this, so the old grandfather at last had to sit in the corner behind the stove, and they gave him his food in an earthenware bowl, and not even enough of it. And he used to look towards the table with his eyes full of tears.

Once, too, his trembling hands could not hold the bowl, and it fell
to the ground and broke. The young wife scolded him, but he said
nothing and only sighed. Then they bought him a wooden bowl for a
few half-pence, out of which he had to eat.

They were once sitting thus when the little grandson of four years
old began to gather together some bits of wood upon the ground. What
are you doing there, asked the father. I am making a little trough,
answered the child, for father and mother to eat out of when I am

The man and his wife looked at each other for a while, and presently
began to cry. Then they took the old grandfather to the table, and
henceforth always let him eat with them, and likewise said nothing if
he did spill a little of anything.


Steve Reed said...

Well, at least they were feeding him. :)

Gary said...

Steve - You are an optimist! I love that you see the positive side. Even I didn't think about that!

WAT said...

There's that upcoming movie I wanna see, SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN? Looks dark but good!

Gary said...

Wat - I saw it last night and it was visually stunning but it dragged a bit. Charlize Theron is deliciously gorgeous and I appreciate all the over-the-top scenery chewing.

Ms.M said...

Gary I so agree with your comments about Snowwhite & the Huntsman.

I just spent 4 weeks reading original versions of Fairy Tales to my ELL kids this summer. I know I heard the originals as a child cause I recognized them as I read. However, I had forgotten how cleaned up the current versions are. Ie Snow White is such a ninny! The Wicked Step-mother came 3 times and tricked her 3 times! Oh and I forgot that in Hansel & Grettle were sent to the woods to die because dad and Step-mom had no money to feed them.

Very dark these stories are. I like the dark versions better than the current clean up versions. My students loved them too.


Gary said...

Ms. M. - It is always a good idea to go back to the source material. These stories have been so watered down and some of the other German cautionary tales are even worse. Kids can handle them and a nightmare every once in a while isn't such a bad thing. Is it?

Ms.M said...

Oh I soooo agree. People forget that these tales were meant to teach something and sometime fear is a great motivator.



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