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Our Favorite Authors Part 1

Judy Snyder

Down through the ages there have been some excellent authors in different fields, but if pressed for my all-time, eyes-get-sparkly and the do not disturb sign comes out, my favorite authors would have to be Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, a.k.a the Brothers Grimm. They were not merely spinners of fanciful lies, but collectors of folklore, many only passed down orally until they set them to paper. They were also linguists and often translated tales from other lands. In a very real sense, they were historians skillfully recording the spoken word onto written pages for generations to come.

Their first work Kinder- und Hausmärchen (“Children’s and Household Tales”) contained some 200 stories in two volumes. That was back in 1812, so no spiffy 'Siri, take a note' for them! The best-known tales include “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Tom Thumb,” “Rapunzel,” “The Golden Goose,” and “Rumpelstiltskin." Whether considered psychological archetypes or strictly fantasy these tales (not so much the water-downed treacle we try to pass off nowadays) were well weighted with murder, mayhem, violence, and death. They weren't merely tales for entertainment but lessons on life. Almost every Disney version of a fairytale has a dark, sinister original counterpart. Those Disney endings of 'Happily ever after' didn't happen in the originals.

I'll give you a sample:

Hansel and Gretel (The Lost Children): A brother and sister get lost in the woods and find themselves trapped in cages, getting plumped up to be eaten. Only it's not a wicked witch, it's the Devil and his wife. The Devil makes a sawhorse for the little boy to bleed to death on and then goes for a walk, telling the girl to get her brother situated on the sawhorse before he returned. The siblings pretend to be confused and ask the Devil's wife to demonstrate how the boy should lay on the sawhorse; when she shows them they tie her to it and slit her throat. They steal all of the Devil's money and escape in his carriage. He chases after them once he discovers what they've done, but he dies in the process.

The stories are even creepier when you learn that many actually are based on true events. Names were often changed to protect the teller from repercussions from the powers that be (noble men and the like) which might be imprisonment or death. During the famines of the Middle Ages cannibalism was not uncommon and roasted children (who were going to starve to death anyway) were a source of protein. Some parents did turn their children out, so as not to watch them starve to death (or even ate them themselves!) And some of those kids fell prey to others. I can well understand how these people would be viewed as the Devil and his wife, in the telling by the escaped kids. The lesson? Working together you can defeat your foe.

KN Baker

As of right now, I don’t currently have a favorite author. Being a writer is being an artist. As an artist, I try my best to keep a clear mind. When I write and create then I try my best to be as much of me and as original as possible. I try not to be too influenced by other artists. When you’re trying to create something and a work of art, it’s hard if you have someone else’s work in your head.

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