With birth control being somewhat rudimentary in 18th century Germany, a king finds himself saddled with 12 sons. Once his beloved daughter arrives, he takes a rather drastic approach to ensuring she gets her share of his fortune.
Fast forward and we find ourselves in a magic forest. Ravens, lillies, witches and tales of sibling love. A confusing story, but a beautiful one nonetheless.
It’s a classic “I heard it from these girls who heard it from a woman who heard it in her husband’s pub”. Such Chinese whispers might explain the older story fragments we find in this tale.
Afraid of ghosts? Ghouls? Cats? Then this story is not for you. Or maybe it is. Because our hero this week sure knows how to deal with all of them. Because he’s the boy who knows no fear.
And boy, is he having some adventures. I am so excited – this must be one of my favourite Grimms’ fairy tales. I had a graphic novel of it as a kid, and it scared me out of my wits, especially the gallows scene.
Wait, there’s a gallows scene? In a kiddie tale?
Welcome to 18th century Germany.
By the way, this tale is too long to do the reading and the analysis in one podcast. The second part will follow next week.
We sally forth into the wonderful world of the Grimm fairy tales. The original ones. Plus, some analysis.
First up is the Frog King – a delightful tale of lost balls, thrown frogs and found love. And Iron Henry. Who is Iron Henry? Well, you’ll have to hear the whole story:
This is the first old tale in the Grimm brother’s first edition of Kinder- und Hausmärchen, as translated by Margaret Hunt. It’s also one of the most famous German fairy tales, but as we will see it has been bowdlerised many times during its 200-odd-year history. The original tale is rather dark and creepy, just the way we like ’em.