GRIMMS' TALES FOR YOUNG AND OLD by Brothers Grimm

GRIMMS' TALES FOR YOUNG AND OLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is not, as announced, the first new, complete translation of the Grimms' tales ""in half a century""; that distinction belongs to the Magoun-Krappe German Folk Tales published by the Southern Illinois University Press in 1960 which, like Manheim's version, tends to the literal/colloquial rather than the literary. But Manheim's standing as a translator and his skill as a stylist are such that this will be the edition to challenge the Pantheon Grimm of 1944, based on Margaret Hunt's 1884 translation and revised by James Stern. Manheim's renderings may indeed be described as simple, direct, free of archaicisms or excrescences; and certainly they will give pleasure. But the Hunt-Stern version excels in two respects. For one, it points up meanings. ""Nothing ever seems so good as what one keeps to oneself,"" says the greedy cat devouring the pot of fat in ""Cat and Mouse in Partnership""; ""Nothing tastes better than what you yourself eat,"" writes Manheim. Secondly, it is literary--and a little archaic--in ways that fix attention and jog the memory. ""For my wife, good Ilsabil,/Wills not as I'd have her will,"" reads the refrain in ""The Fisherman and His Wife""; ""My wife, her name is Ilsabil,/ Has sent me here against my will,"" is Manheim's construction--which, for all its plainness, is not closer to the original either (rendered as ""My wife Ilsebill/ Doesn't want what I really want"" by supra-literal Magoun/Krappe). Norman Thomas Di Giovanni once remarked that he found a modern translation of Grimm ""horrible because it wasn't giving me what I wanted, which was the sensation of reading it as a child and recapturing that experience. I missed all the archaic flavor."" It is worth considering--along with the storytelling consciousness so highly developed in the late 19th century--before accepting the ""modern,"" however faithful or accomplished, as superior.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1977
Publisher: Doubleday