Posts filed under ‘Brothers Grimm’
Most Honored Sir!
A society has been founded that is intended to spread throughout all of Germany and has as its goal to save and collect all the existing songs and tales that can be found among the common German peasantry (Landvolk). Our fatherland is still filled with this wealth of material all over the country that our honest ancestors planted for us, and that, despite the mockery and derision heaped upon it, continues to live, unaware of its own hidden beauty and carries within it its own unquenchable source. Our literature, history, and language cannot seriously be understood in their old and true origins without doing more exact research on this material. Consequently, it is our intention to track down as diligently as possible all the following items and to write them down as faithfully as possible: . . . .
1) Folk songs and rhymes,
2) Tales in prose that are told and known, in particular the numerous nursery and children’s fairy tales about giants, dwarfs, monsters, enchanted and rescued royal children, devils, treasures, and magic instruments as well as local legends that help explain certain places.
3) Funny tales about tricks played by rogues and anecdotes; puppet plays from old times with Hanswurst and the devil.
4) Folk festivals, mores, customs, and games.
6) Proverbs, unusual dialects, parables, word composition.
It is extremely important that these items are to be recorded faithfully and truly, without embellishment and additions, whenever possible from the mouth of the tellers in and with their very own words in the most exact and detailed way. It would be of double value if everything could be obtained in the local live dialect. On the other hand, even fragments with gaps are not to be rejected. Indeed, all the derivations, repetitions, and copies of the same tale can be individually important. . . .Here we advise that you not be misled by the deceptive opinion that something has already been collected and recorded, and therefore that you discard a story. Many things that appear to be modern have often only been modernized and has their undamaged source beneath it. As soon as one has a great familiarity with the contents of this folk literature (Volkspoesie), one will gradually be able to evaluate the alleged simplistic, crude and even repulsive aspects more discreetly.
It happened that the cat met Mr. Fox in the woods. She thought, “He is intelligent and well experienced, and is highly regarded in the world,” so she spoke to him in a friendly manner, “Good-day, my dear Mr. Fox. How is it going? How are you? How are you getting by in these hard times?”
The fox, filled with arrogance, examined the cat from head to feet, and for a long time did not know whether he should give an answer. At last he said, “Oh, you poor beard-licker, you speckled fool, you hungry mouse hunter, what are you thinking? Have you the nerve to ask how I am doing? What do you know? How many tricks do you understand?”
“I understand but one,” answered the cat, modestly.
“What kind of a trick is it?” asked the fox.
“When the dogs are chasing me, I can jump into a tree and save myself.”
“Is that all?” said the fox. “I am master of a hundred tricks, and in addition to that I have a sackful of cunning. I feel sorry for you. Come with me, and I will teach you how one escapes from the dogs.”
Just then a hunter came by with four dogs. The cat jumped nimbly up a tree, and sat down at its top, where the branches and foliage completely hid her.
“Untie your sack, Mr. Fox, untie your sack,” the cat shouted to him, but the dogs had already seized him, and were holding him fast.
“Oh, Mr. Fox,” shouted the cat. “You and your hundred tricks are left in the lurch. If you been able to climb like I can, you would not have lost your life.”
- Source: Der Fuchs und die Katze, Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales — Grimms’ Fairy Tales), 7th ed. (Berlin, 1857), no. 75.
- This fable was added to the Grimms’ Kinder- und Hausmärchen with the second edition (1819).
- The Grimms’ immediate source has not been identified precisely. The tale is very old and very widely spread. Versions are found in the ancient Indian Panchatantra, the fables Aesop and of Jean de la Fontaine, as well as in oral traditions around the world.
- Translated by D. L. Ashliman. © 2001-2002.
- Aarne-Thompson, type 105, The Cat’s Only Trick.
Links to related sites
- The Fox and the Cat, additional fables of Aarne-Thompson type 105.
- The Grimm Brothers’ Children’s and Household Tales (Grimms’ Fairy Tales).
- The Grimm Brothers’ Home Page.
- D. L. Ashliman’s folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.