It’s Saturday morning – time for a leisurely breakfast and a conversation about childhood favourites.

When I started this readathon, I could not remember having read Grimm before. Gradually the name Roger Lancelyn Green has resurfaced but while I’m pretty sure his King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table sowed the seeds of my ongoing fascination with all things medieval, I don’t think he introduced me to the Brothers Grimm … Or did he?

No, that accolade belongs to the television. Through film and pantomine, the Grimms seem to be an inherent part of the British Christmas.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I watched Tom Thumb. (And now that I’m so in the mood to watch it again, this will be the year it isn’t broadcast!) Disney, of course has his role to play – cartoons where the princesses are perfect and the wicked queens and stepmothers are downright evil. Though good always triumphs and the bad always receive their just desserts …

Though the lines are not always so clearly drawn in Grimm. Rapunzel, for instance. what did she really get up to with her prince in the tower?  An early Grimm version mentions her rounded stomach …. a detail removed from later versions.  Seems even the Grimms had to sanitise their stories! Sometimes too, the punishments dished out are so cruel that even the just and righteous cross the border line into malevolence. The fate of Snow White’s  stepmother shocked me last week. This is what happens at Snow White’s wedding when the wicked one is recognised ….

But iron slippers were heated over the fire and were soon brought in with tongs and put before her.  And she had to step into the red-hot shoes and dance till she fell down dead.

Jeez! That didn’t happen in Disney.

But back to television for a moment and that East German classic The Singing Ringing Tree. Made in 1957 and repeated on British television over and over up until the early 80’s – it too was an integral part of my childhood and that dwarf was so, so scary. The film is now available on DVD and, of course, when I watched it again last week, I wallowed in pure nostalgia and wondered how it could ever have been so terrifying. The power of a child’s imagination I suppose. Anyway I’m keeping the DVD and no doubt, when I’m feeling rotten, I’ll let it perform its magic once more.

The Singing Ringing Tree was based on a fragment of a story by The Brothers Grimm. I can’t find it online but if you listen to The White Snake, you’ll recognise some shared motifs.

Digested your breakfast?  Time now to repair to our carriage and continue our journey along the Fairy Tale Way. The route forks at Kassel and we are taking the right hand path so as to travel into the heart of the forest, the Reinhardswald.

Into the heart of the Reinhardswald

Imagine cutting your way through the thickets and the briars to reach sleeping Beauty in her castle at Sababurg.

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Sababurg

Once Tony, our #germanlitmonth prince charming, has awoken Beauty from her spell, we travel onwards to Trendelburg for a few words with naughty, naughty Rapunzel and her prince.

Burg Trendelburg, location of Rapunzel’s tower

Having put the tower behind them, they are living in the forest with their two children. Happily ever after? Let’s hope so.

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