200 years after the Grimm brothers published their collection of dark, eerie fairy tales, Philip Pullman is set to rewrite 50 of his favourite tales. The author of His Dark Materials trilogy will be adapting tales including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and his personal favourite The Juniper Tree for a book called Grimm Tales for Young and Old, due out in September from Penguin.
Rewritten in “his own voice”, each story will end with notes explaining its meaning and offering alternative versions.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm first published 86 stories in an anthology called Children’s and Household Tales in 1812, with the number of tales growing to over 200 in the following years. Since then, the Grimm fairy tales have spawned novels, TV shows, films and songs by the bucket load. The stories have frightened and enchanted children and adults alike, some of the more popular stories becoming household names and serving as examples to be followed or avoided.
“This is really exciting. Philip Pullman is the right man; he tackles this stuff supremely well… I think these old tales connect with very basic issues. There is something about the stories that, if not eternal, they are certainly classic… Philip Pullman writes stunningly well. He deals with big issues including values and the meaning of life.” — Professor Bill Gray, English Literary History at the University of Chichester, founder of the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy and who has written on Mr Pullman
I love the fairy tales – they’re a strong inspiration for any fantasy writing, for a start – even when growing up, I was enthralled by them. Every story was fascinating, no matter how many times I heard it or read it or watched it. I cut my teeth on the fluffy Disney versions, and it wasn’t until my early teens that I realised the dark world of Grimm was quite different to Dopey and Happy and Doc and the rest of those loveable dwarves. This was even better! Not even that appalling The Brothers Grimm film could ruin it (shame it cast two of my favourite actors for it, because otherwise I would never have watched it and never have seen the misery that was that film).
I can’t wait to read these new versions from Philip Pullman (massive fan of the trilogy anyhow, so they’re going to be good!). What’s your favourite fairy tale? What do you think of Philip Pullman’s re-imagining?
As a little side-note, I stumbled across Nerd Blerp‘s blog post about the 7 Grimm fairy tales that should be adapted whilst looking for more information about this story. Clever and absolutely right, I would say, and I recommend you checking it out! (Also, going to credit Nerd Blerp for the beautiful Little Red Riding Hood illustration, though I’m not sure where it came from before that).