The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale Series
with illustrations, commentary and analysis, using the translations of the late Gary V Hartman (1947-2017)
Gary Hartman began his formal study of Fairy Tales while at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland and dedicated his first self-published book of Fairy Tales to his professor:
A. Richard Pope “Teacher, analyst, translator…and lover of fairy tales”
Gary entrusted his fairy tale translations to me, along with his research documents, including numerous correspondence from other Grimm’s translators. In so honoring this gift, I have committed to this project, recognizing his determination to illuminate the psychological meanings found in these fairy tales. It is my hope to bring to a boarder audience these rich translations, along with some of his scholarship, my own commentary, and analysis on this webpage.
In addition, I have brought together a small group of illustrators most of whom knew Gary and studied with him in his Fairy Tale and Jung Studies classes which, for almost 30 years, I hosted for him. For each illustration, the illustrator will provide a brief commentary on how the image for the illustration occurred.
Although Gary’s goal was to translate all 200 of the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, in fact he could not as explained in his Forward.
I am delighted to present here the Forward to his book, first published in 2000.
For some time, I have had a recurring and relentless fantasy. That fantasy has been to re-translate or, simply, to produce a new translation of the two hundred fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. Every time I have considered working through that many tales, however, both spirit and flesh have quailed at the prospect of what seemed completely daunting demands on time and energy. By the same token, though, every time I have needed a fairy tale for seminar or teaching purposes, I have found myself frustrated with existing translations and have to translate the tales myself.
There are three major, authoritative translations available at the present. (By authoritative I mean a complete collection of all two hundred tales numbered according to the Grimms’ own numbering. Since translations of titles vary, the numbering is crucial for cross-referencing.) The oldest and probably the most familiar is James Stern’s reworking of Margaret Hunt’s translation. It is usually identified by the two names, Padraic Column—who wrote the introduction—and Joseph Campbell—who wrote a commentary. I recommend this translation, because it is the closest to a literal one. It does, unfortunately, add some superfluous frills not in the German text—to make the tales seem more “fairy-tale-like,” I have to suppose.
The second translation is more recent, 1977, done by Ralph Mannheim, a known and reputable translators of works such as the letters of Sigmund Freud and Jolande Jacobi’s Psychology of C. G. Jung. To my thinking, this version suffers by deviating too markedly from the literal text in an apparent attempt to be modern. My pet peeve with Mannheim is that he translates the title of Number 191 as “The Mongoose” as opposed to “The Sea Hare” in the Stern book or—as I would prefer—“The Sea Bunny.” Perhaps the Grimms intended a mongoose, but that certainly is not the German title!
Most recently, Jack Zipes, a professor of German literature, produced yet a third translation in 1987. While a definite improvement over the Mannheim version and, in places, even over Stern’s translation, I have to rank it as only my second preference.
My chief criticism of these works is that none of them take the psychology of the tales into account in creating the translations. Fairy tales are “collective representations,” to use Jung’s term. They are refined archetypal motifs, polished to a luster by the collective’s repetition—as are religious traditions. While the Grimms have been much criticized for taking liberties with their stories, their genius lies in having produced quintessential tales. The work that required generations of telling and retelling to accomplish, they managed single-handedly within their life-times! To translate fairy tales without an ear to these archetypal themes is to lose their psychological importance.
The Grimm tales are works of art, finely faceted gems: no word is superfluous and all parts complement the telos, the purpose, of each, individual tale. It is as if the Grimms understood the essence of “fairy tale” and trimmed and shaped the stories to achieve that quality. They were philologists, folklorists, professors of German language and literature, and a primary force in shaping contemporary usage of the language. The original, 1812 edition of the tales, contained almost as many scholarly footnotes as the story text. Between them, the Grimms wrote some thirty-five books, many of them on folklore and legend. They produced, for example, the beginnings of the definitive dictionary of German—the equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary. For me, any translation that moves away from the closest literal rendering of these stories, compromises them, if only in small ways. Some examples illustrate what I mean.
In Number 17, “The White Snake,” the king’s servant who serves the mysterious final bowl after everyone else has left the table is referred to as “servant” until the point in the tale where he dismounts from the horse given to him by the king. From that point on without exception he is referred to as a “youth” in the original German. To return to the designation of “servant” once he has undergone the transformation to “youth,” is to ignore and disguise the significance of the change that has taken place. It also seriously misleads the reader!
The translation that wins the prize as my favorite one to hate is the rendering of “king’s daughter” as “princess.” While this may sound like the epitome of pedantic hair-splitting, it does make a difference in the psychology of the tales. “King’s daughter” tells the reader that the girl’s identity comes from her relationship to father, more importantly, to father as the ruling dominant or principle, “king.” “Princess” carries connotations of being coddled, of being a “Jewish American Princess,” and/or of a superior, perhaps snobbish attitude. It does not necessarily convey the father’s daughter dynamic of the first term. The dwarfs, for instance, wrote in gold letters on Little Snowwhite’s coffin that she was a king’s daughter, despite the fact that the story only refers to a king in passing. [Today’s reader and perhaps even the reader in 1998 would find offense in Gary’s use of the term “Jewish American Princess”. I understand the overall context of how he intended its use here, honoring the original text both in his Foreword and in his translations from the original Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales remains my mission with the on-going project]
To honor the psychological significance of the tales, it is, I feel, crucial to stay as close to the original image as possible. This was Jung’s rule of thumb for working with dream material: “Stay as close as possible to the image.” The specificity of image and an appreciation for that principle is vital in working with fairy tales as psychological manifestations. With that end in mind, I have attempted the closest thing to a direct, literal translation possible, sacrificing ease in reading for the feeling tone of the direct wording. The resulting stories conveys some of the archaic, folkloric quality of the originals more so than had they been “polished.” I would add, parenthetically, that a translation produced with a sense of and attention to the images is also easier to work with and to hear from a psychological perspective. In this vein, I offer the translations in this collection.
Although a work in progress as the title suggests, this “book” will probably never include all of the tales of the Grimm Brothers collected. Nonetheless, it is my intention to translate as many them as I can. Further, I intend to include only Grimm tales, simply because they represent for me the most evolved form of the genre. To use an analogy, they are to fairy tales what the stories of Greek mythology are to other mythologies. Each tale is numbered according to the Grimms’ numbering. The translations are based on the standardized version of the Grimms’ tales.
There is a specific reason why I have not included Number 19, the story known as “The Fisherman’s Wife.” It is written in German dialect, the Plattdeutsch of the North Sea region. Since I am not conversant with an analogous English dialect form, I cannot translates it. I recommend the reader to the Penguin collection of Grimms’ fairy tales which includes a fine translation in Scots’ dialect.
Finally, I am translating these stories, because I throughly enjoy working with fairy tales. Even more than that other, traditional manifestation of the psyche, dreams, they possess a beauty and a wonder which delights any who have ears to hear. I hope that the stories in this booklet help in some measure to communicate the pleasure and wonder I have discovered in my translating—a childlike delight in the mystery of the human psyche and its products.
Gary V. Hartman, Mission, Kansas, October 1998
What a task/command Gary has given us….
In these regular installments I will strive to stay true to Gary’s biases while honoring the evolution and continued growth of both the illustrators and myself.