Tales of the Brothers Grimm
by Rebecca A. Say
A portrait of the men who brought us some of the world's most loved fairy tales
Stories have been told for generations. They were the favorite form of entertainment before radio, TV, and computers. Families would gather together to hear about old cultures, great heroes, and even true family adventures. Some tales became very popular and were told again and again, never lost over the ages. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm realized the importance of these stories and spent their lives trying to preserve them. Known as the Brothers Grimm, their fairy tales are still inspiring stories, movies, and much more today.
Jacob Grimm was born in Germany in 1785 and his brother Wilhelm was born the following year. They both became authors and scholars, spending most of their lives living and working on projects together. When the Romantic Movement spread through Germany, the Brothers Grimm became some of the first and most important romantic historians of early language and folk tales there. They studied medieval literature, which fed their love of folklore and legends. Wanting to produce their own collection of stories, the brothers talked with peasants and villagers to research different versions of common tales. While Jacob did much of the research, Wilhelm gave the stories childlike qualities to make them suitable for all ages. In 1812, they published Children's and Household Tales. Between 1816 and 1818, they published two volumes of German Legends as well as a study on early literature called Old German Forests.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm also achieved great things in regard to the German language. Grimm's Law is a set of rules about the sounds in German as they relate to other languages. An example for this would be the similarities between the English word apple and the German word apfel. Their final project, which they worked on till their deaths, was a German dictionary that included the origins and meanings of every word.
雅各布．格林是在 1785 年出生于德国，而他的弟弟威廉则在来年出生。他们两人后来都成了作家和学者，且大半辈子两人都住在一起，也一起努力从事写作。浪漫主义运动传到德国时，格林兄弟就成了当地最早也最重要的研究早期语言及民间故事的浪漫历史学家。他们研究中世纪的文学，这满足了他们对民间传说及传奇故事的热爱。为了要创作属于自己的故事集，格林兄弟和农夫及村民们交谈来研究常见故事的不同版本。大部分的研究工作由雅各布负责，而威廉则负责赋予这些故事纯真的特质，让它们能适合各年龄层。1812 年，他们出版了《儿童与家庭故事集》。1816 到 1818 年间，他们出版了两册的《德国民间传说》及一部研究早期文化的作品《德国老森林》。
格林兄弟在德国语言方面也有很大的成就。『格林定律』就是一套关于德文发音和其他语言有共通性的规则。这项规则的其中一个例子就是英文的 apple 和德文的 apfel 之间的相似性。格林兄弟的最后一部作品是一本内容包含每个字的起源和意义的德文字典，这部作品他们一直做到两人去世为止。