Loving traditional tales, folklore, myths and legends, the stories of the Brothers Grimm have always fascinated me so I was very excited to visit the German city of Kassel this summer. The brothers spent much of their lives living and working here. In 1860, Jacob Grimm wrote, “The Kassel years were the happiest of our lives...'so it is a fitting home for 'Grimm Welt', an amazing museum dedicated to their lives and work.
As well as collecting traditional tales, the Grimms were linguists and there is much evidence of this on display. They started work on the first German dictionary and from 1838 onwards, the brothers and their assistants searched German literature since Luther for examples of how words were used. Their love of words lead them to feel overwhelmed by the task as they also researched the etymology, word relationships and historic usage of each word. It's little wonder that 21 years after the work was started, Wilhelm Grimm at the time of his death had just finished words beginning with the letter 'd'. Four years later, when Jacob died, the brother had managed to complete A, B, C and E with F only complete as far as the word, 'Frucht'.
The Brothers dictionary included curses and insults, exclamations and insults. One of the exhibits- Little Arse- played with this! When you spoke into the large trumpet shaped sculpture, it hurled insults back at you. One little boy was having great fun with this- you didn't have to speak German to know what was going on!
Although the exhibition contained many fascinating documents relating to and work by the Grimms, it was their 'Children's and Household Tales' that they were most famous for. These were collected by the brothers and were printed 17 times during their lifetimes. The vast majority of the stories were collected from the Hesse region of Germany. Copies with handwritten notes and annotations were on display.
Copies of their stories in many languages were on display, showing a wonderful variety of illustrative styles.
Downstairs, visitors could make their way through the hedge of thorns to the magic mirror on the wall, who after much argument decided that you were the 'fairest of them all'! You could eat with the seven dwarfs, enter the gingerbread house (it smelt wonderful!) and follow the frog prince as he hopped his way across the floor.
A small cinema showed a compilation of film versions of the stories of the Grimms, showing how the same tale has been interpreted in many different ways. Many I recognised, but there there were many more I have never heard of!
A fascinating place about fascinating literary figures. Well worth a visit!