Color and silhouette illustrations first seen in editions 50 to 150 years ago add an antique glaze to 27 stories newly translated from the Brothers Grimm’s final and, as the editor puts it, “most child-friendly” versions.
Not to say that there aren’t still plenty of violent and gruesome bits—from the ugly fates of Cinderella’s stepsisters to the decapitated horse in “Goose Girl.” With only rare exceptions, like the Brave Little Tailor, who swats flies that are “bugging him out of his mind,” the language in these unabridged versions remains classically formal, more grand than intimate and conveying in the lighter stories more wit than laugh-out-loud humor. The art samples work from 27 illustrators, nearly all of whom were European, and likewise presents a range of elaborately stylized Princes, graceful Maidens, anthropomorphic animals and comical magical creatures in, usually, court or period costume. Printed in double columns of small type, the collection is designed for adult readers to read or read aloud, and for the grown-ups Daniel also includes analytical introductions, an opening appreciation of the Grimms’ work as “the DNA of all fairy-tale scholarship,” and long biographical notes on the illustrators. As a piece of bookmaking, it harkens back to more extravagant times, with a gold-stamped, purple cloth cover, many gilt pages, elaborate display type and scrollwork and two bound-in silk ribbons to act as bookmarks.
Though a bit of a patchwork with all the visual styles on display, this gathering of old favorites in their full, original forms collected in a lovely package should please fairy-tale collectors and bibliophiles alike. (translator’s and historical notes, index) (Fairy tales. 7-11, adult)